Stories for Readers, Writers, and Sailors

With What Eyes Do We See the Soul? Nov 21, 2021

How I came to write The Prisoner's Apprentice: Post 3 of 3 (1, 2)

Once I’d finally accepted that the only way to get Rulloff out of my head was to write a novel about him, I assumed the best way forward was the direct path, to write the story from his viewpoint and let him explain...

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Getting to Truth, Through Fiction Oct 24, 2021

How I came to write The Prisoner's Apprentice: Post 2 of 3 (1, 3)

Once a seed like your great-great-grand-uncle murdered a bunch of people gets planted, no matter how much you want to ignore it, you're powerless against the enormity of the questions that roil inside you. So I gave in...

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It Takes a Villain to Make a Writer Sep 19, 2021

How I came to write The Prisoner's Apprentice: Post 1 of 3 (2, 3)

I didn’t start out to write a book about a serial killer—never consciously chose the darkest corners of the soul as a neat place to spend several years of my life. I’ve never been a noir kind of girl. In...

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2021—Here We Come! Jan 03, 2021

You don’t need reminding that 2020 brought a heap of surprises.

For the crew of Pristine, the year meant a series of unexpected pivots. We didn’t cross an ocean or frolic among the atolls as we’d planned, but like many curveballs, 2020 brought gifts to the back door even as...

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Sometimes the Real Adventure is Getting Home Jul 05, 2020

Just ask Ernest Shackleton.

True, our Baja Bash didn’t involve icebergs or Southern Ocean storms, but the name of his ill-fated ship could have been the theme for our more recent journey: Endurance.

In some ways, our 800 mile trip from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego was routine for a Baja...

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Love From La Paz Mar 26, 2020

For Colin and I, the tectonic Covid-19 shift revealed itself slowly, then all at once.

We were a week away from departure for the South Pacific when Tonga closed its borders. Bummer, we thought, but we’d work around it. Then the Cook Islands followed suit, and we were sad, but a bit like...

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It's Go Time! Mar 03, 2020

Even if you’re not a sailor, you’ve probably heard that a tidy boat is a safe boat.

That whole place for everything and everything in its place thing. Perhaps it sounds like a worthy ideal that’s never really needed, like the earthquake kit in your garage circa...

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Putting the Awe in Awesome Jan 13, 2020

It was my first shift of our first night passage in six months and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what was just ahead.

After umpteen hours of sailing into twenty-knots-on-the-nose, the wind had petered out and the quiet whisper of sails had given way to the mechanical chug of pistons....

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Embracing the Butterflies Nov 22, 2019

I call it the Losing-My-Sh*t pose.

To my knowledge, there’s no official name for the advanced yoga maneuver that involves wedging yourself between the galley and nav station, balancing on one foot and one knee while trying to achieve the extension and leverage required to scrub...

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The Care and Feeding of Hurricanes Jun 30, 2019

Because once you how a tropical cyclone thrives, you know how to avoid one.

There are hundreds of rules for sailors, but Colin and I live by a single one that so dominates the others it deserves all caps: MOTHER NATURE IS IN CHARGE.

This means that if she doesn’t want us to sail...

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Killer Whales in Our Bathtub Jun 03, 2019

It’s a unique experience to wake up, step in the shower, and find a razor-toothed predator.

Colin and I live a pretty clean life on Pristine, bathing every morning in the world’s biggest bathtub, scrubbing down in the cockpit, then rinsing off the salt with a spritz of fresh...

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“Hard to Port - Turtle Twelve O’Clock” May 11, 2019

The seagull standing on a rock set off alarm bells. We were supposed to be in 1500 feet of water. What rock??

The binoculars came out immediately. Magnified, the rock took the form of a big, upside-down salad bowl. Also, it was moving. 

We grinned at each other like five-year-olds handed ice...

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Surf SUP! Mar 21, 2019

After sailing 2500 miles to find warmth and waves, it was time to break out the toys.

There’s something about taking the slow boat that improves one’s sense of geography immeasurably. Did you know Mexico is the 13th largest country in the world? There are literally 3500 miles of...

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Mother Nature Brings Her A-Game Mar 02, 2019

The cruising life involves some hefty contrasts.

After a week surrounded by beach umbrellas and construction cranes, Colin and I sailed a mere 90 miles and arrived 9,000 years back in time at a prehistoric island dubbed the Galapagos of Mexico.

As dawn broke after an overnight passage,...

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Magical Mázatlan Feb 24, 2019

A Señor Frog’s tourist trap or a cultural and culinary paradise?

Yes, and yes.

If you have one week to build sandcastles with the kids, squeeze limes into beer, and sunburn your butt, Mazatlán has you covered. Since Colin and I lead a uniquely sun-filled life, we opted to...

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Sailing the Wide Open Sea Feb 19, 2019

Well, almost.

We weren’t exactly crossing the Pacific, but Colin and I were heading from Baja to Mazatlán, a journey of roughly 200 nautical miles across the Sea of Cortez. Depending on the winds, we’d be out of sight of land for 2-3 days. If anything went awry, we could be 100...

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A Year of Living Dangerously. And Vibrantly. And Spontaneously. Jan 28, 2019

Last Christmas, the length of our to-do list would have overwhelmed Santa.

Colin and I were hip deep in selling our furniture, renting our house, prepping the boat for its new role in our lives and trying like mad to squeeze in time to see friends and family. Today, we’re waking up to...

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Have a Very Mariachi Christmas Dec 25, 2018

We hope you are enjoying a very Feliz Navidad and will have quite the Prospero Año Nuevo as well.

While we really miss our beloved family and friends, we’re also enormously grateful we get to spend a very memorable holiday season in a very special place. We arrived in La Paz...

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Recipe for Apple Pie à la Mer Dec 01, 2018

Start with a three-day coastal passage from Ensenada to Turtle Bay, delayed by missing wind until departure falls smack on Thanksgiving.

Next, consider carefully what festive holiday dish can be made using only the ingredients you have on board, the preparation or consuming of which is not...

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Belonging, in San Diego Nov 15, 2018

When this sailing dream was new and fragile, I probably talked about it a little too often.

The common concerns I inevitably heard voiced—storms, rogue waves, and a variety of scenes that all led to sinking—I had carefully prepared answers for. Besides the technical marvels of...

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Sailing in the Wake of Giants Nov 01, 2018

“We must come down from our heights, and leave our straight paths, for the byways and low places of life, if we would learn truths by strong contrasts; and in hovels, in forecastles, and among our own outcasts in foreign lands, see what has been wrought upon our fellow-creatures by...

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Running With the General Oct 22, 2018

General Santa Ana was an unpredictable, shape-shifting politician and dubious military leader who helped Mexico gain independence from Spain, then lost more than half her territory to the U.S. There are various origin stories for the wind phenomenon that shares his name, but one thing’s for...

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Colin's Great White — Up Close and Personal Oct 17, 2018

The trolling line, which had been quiet since we left Santa Cruz Island, suddenly screamed into life like a swarm of angry bees.

”Colin!” I yelled. “Fish ON!” 

He’d been up at the bow, pointing at the eruption of wildlife all around Anacapa—pods of...

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Working the Dream Sep 11, 2018

Sailing Pristine: the Maintenance Issue

For those of you who open Pristine’s adventures for soothing photos of paradise to help you through your workday, we’re afraid we will disappoint you this time around. For those who want a more realistic picture of what cruising is actually...

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