What I found most interesting about these conversations is how much all three of us love sailing. Not just cruising, but sailing in any form it takes, from the lightest of winds to much heavier going, for an afternoon or for weeks at a time. At the same time all of us have a deep desire and take real pleasure in writing about the sailing we’ve been doing. John said something that had me thinking long after we finished our conversation. Though I am paraphrasing here as I didn’t write down his exact words, it went something like this; “When I write it down, it seems to clarify and embed the experience in my mind.”
Interestingly, that echoes something another sailing writer said to me a few weeks ago. Behan Gifford was adding her input about why she started blogging, then writing for magazines. “When I am writing a blog, I find I get down to the essence of the experience,” she stated. I had never thought of my writing this way.
But, now as I look back at the thousands and thousands of words that have leapt from my fingers onto printed or digital pages, I see what they were all saying. As I am working to describe a voyage, be it a short and sweet one, a rugged slog or something in between, I get to think back over each incident that made it distinct. Then I have to pick and choose the most important or sometimes the most poignant moments. I have to describe the reasons things went well, or things went awry. This gets me considering the interaction of the crew (Larry and I in the past, David and I now,) the interaction of the boat with the sea and the effects of the weather on all of this.
By the time I am satisfied with the words that are down on digital paper (and occasionally still on actual paper) I have distilled the event to its essence. Yes, though you readers feel I am writing just for you, in an emotional sense, I am doing it for me too. Once done, I am, just as are these fine writers, eager for another day of sailing, another possible adventure to write about.
Right now, as I am in the USA presenting these seminars and then taking part in the amazing honor of being inducted with Larry, into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, I am two months away from heading back to Kawau where Sahula awaits me. We already have our sailing plans laid out, plans that will take us towards new destinations, ones that I know will give me plenty of reasons to keep my story telling brain active. But I will stick to the advice I give those who are headed out with the dream of reaching far off destinations. I won’t share our exact plans – that way if we change direction, if the weather gods thwart us, no one will ever say we failed.
I hope to see some of you at the Festival or Sailboat show. I’ll be in the authors booth at Port Townsend, and at the Annapolis Boatshow look for me (and Behan) at booth M5, the fun booth I share with The Boat Galley crew.
P.S. There are some entertaining examples of John Kretschmer’s writing here - https://johnkretschmersailing.com/writing/
Herb McCormick was editor at Cruising World Magazine for more than 30 years and has written several books including As Long as It’s Fun, a biography of Larry and I. His latest book is Offshore High, a biography of Doris and Steve Colgate.
Behan Giffords blog can be found at https://www.sailingtotem.com/