THE RIVERS OF THE UNITED States have a certain lore and mystique within American culture. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these roaring waterways were home to thousands. Entire communities existed on or near the water in self-made houseboats. The history of these communities has been explored briefly in river memoirs such as Harlan Hubbard’s Shantyboat Journal, but hasn’t been thoroughly examined in a present-day context. That is, until a modern shantyboat came bobbing down the Mississippi in the summer of 2014.
This all started about two years ago. An old hometown friend and I prowling Craigslist obsessively. Chugging sailing instructional books. Politicking with yacht club members. Learning to speak like pirates. We had tunnel vision. Sail off to the Bahamas on a dollar and a dream. We made quite a bit of progress but before we ever actually pulled the trigger on a boat my vision became blurry and skewed by what I mistook for love at the time. When I finally snapped out of my daze we had missed Caribbean sailing season for the year.
One day, I decided to take the 26' sailboat I lived on for a sail on the San Francisco bay to work out some kinks. I was just going out for a quick jaunt, I thought, so I didn't grab extra food or water, and didn't even check my gas tank on my little four horsepower outboard. It was a great outboard, got amazing mileage, but was a little underpowered for the boat, but generally got her around pretty well. I fired her up, and went out for a quick jaunt around Angel Island. Gorgeous day, plenty of wind, a six pack, and a bit of cannabis. I was in such a hurry to get out and enjoy the day that I totally neglected to do one really important thing: I didn't check the tide charts.
5 years ago, everything I had fit in a pack. I decided I was tired of hopping trains and hitching, and wanted to become a sailor. Practically everybody told me it was impossible (except, ironically enough, actual sailors). I had never set foot on a sailboat in my life. I had no money, and boats are expensive. A year later, I was sailing my own boat. This is a quick guide for people that want to get into boats, but have nothing. It pretty much comes down to three steps.
First of all I can recommend hitchhiking in Oman without reservation. It's so common the locals don't even bother signaling to cars; they just stand at the edge of the road, which gives me the creeps when I'm driving. Interestingly, most of them are expat workers from southern Asia and the Philippines. I'd be curious to know whether hitching existed in Arabia before the great influx of migrant workers or whether they brought hitching culture with them. It's a natural fixture of all developing countries, after all.
In early April of 2013, a group of us got together to sail the SV Rocksteady to Fort Jefferson. This old civil war fort turned national park is located on the Dry Tortugas, a series of islands located 70 miles west of Key West, Florida.
The following is an article from the German Magazine NEON. I translated it with the help of Google translate, so it’s a bit rough around the edges, but I think it still conveys the story pretty well. It features many of the friends I was living with in Key West, some of which you may recognize from my blog posts about the Liquid Courage, and my recent trip to the Dry Tortugas.
I’ve been playing with instagram a lot in my spare time since coming to Key West, so I thought it would be fun to put together a collection of the photos I’ve taken in order to give you a view of this place through the lens of instagram filters. Some look like postcards, others are just funny, but most capture what an awesome place Key West turned out to be.