This story was originally published by Latitudes and Attitudes magazine in the “So You Think that was Dumb”  column.

I was way forward in the starboard hull of our 43-foot catamaran Pacific Bliss when I thought I heard a distant, “Lois…Help.”

I rushed topsides to the cockpit. Then I heard another “Lois…Help,” muffled, but louder this time. I could barely make out my husband’s words: “I’m stuck…stuck in the anchor locker.”

I crawled underneath the sunshade lines (we were preparing to leave the boat in Fiji’s Vuda Point Marina for the cyclone season) and made my way to the bow of Pacific Bliss. There I saw Gunter, head down in the anchor locker all the way to his waist. His stomach was pressed tight against the square opening. His hands were down, so he had no way to right himself.

“Put your hands under my stomach and pull,” he grunted.

Again and again, I tried in vain to yank him out. I scraped and bruised my arm against the sharp edge of the hatch. But I couldn’t get a handhold on him so that I could pull.

Time was getting short. I feared that he would lose consciousness, with the blood rushing to his head. Then he wouldn’t be able to help me at all. He would be dead weight.

Suddenly I realized that I could yell for help. After all, we were not at sea. We were in a marina at mid-day, with yachties and boat workers within earshot. I yelled as loud as I could, took a deep breath, and rallied all my strength.

Meanwhile, Gunter had managed to shift his weight so that there was a small opening.

I pulled on his legs as hard as I could. Out he popped like a cork out of a bottle. We both fell back on the deck.

Disoriented, Gunter stumbled to his feet, just as a Fijian worker bounded onto the gangway. A yachtie followed a few steps behind him.

“Are you all right?” the yachtie asked.

“I think so.”

I had expected Gunter to emerge red-faced; instead, he was ghostly pale. Rivulets of sweat poured down his face and dripped onto his bare chest. I led him to the galley and dressed the superficial wounds on his belly. “Let’s go to the showers,” he gasped, still drenched with sweat.

We stood together in the bamboo-enclosed uni-sex showers a few yards from the yacht basin. The cold water refreshed our bodies.

“What happened?” I asked, as we walked back to Pacific Bliss.

 “A shackle pin dropped as I was connecting the French anchor—the one that came with the boat—to the rode. I pulled all the chain out. Then I tried to reach the pin. But it had dropped all the way to the bottom. You know how deep that locker is!”

We walked up the gangway to our med-moored yacht as Gunter continued his story.

“But I kept thinking I could reach it. I managed to touch it, but then it went farther and farther down. All of a sudden, my equilibrium shifted and I was stuck in there, head down. What a horrible, suffocating feeling!”

“Don’t you ever do that again!” I ordered, trying to put on a stern face. Ask me the next time. I’m so short; I could probably have stood in there. Maybe I could have grabbed it with my toes.”

“Yes, it was very foolish of me,” Gunter hung his head with uncharacteristic humility.

I seized on the opportunity. “And don’t you do anything else foolish. I need you! How else am I going to sail around the world?”

We hugged each other, then turned on the fans and collapsed in the master berth. Later, too exhausted to cook, we walked to the Marina’s restaurant, The Hatch, for Bula Burgers and cokes.

When we returned to Pacific Bliss, Gunter had an idea. He opened another hatch (no worries, this hatch is the wide-and-shallow cockpit locker) and started throwing things out onto the deck.

“What are you doing now?” I fretted.

“Look here.” A triumphant captain—a true connoisseur of the San Diego West Marine store when we’re not cruising—held up an impressive mechanical gripper with an extra long handle. “I could have used this. That’s what I bought it for.” The price tag was still on the tool.

To read more about our circumnavigation, please visit Amazon.com to purchase your copy of “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss:  Maiden Voyage.

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One of the common questions that I am asked about our circumnavigation is this:  “Did you catch many fish when crossing oceans?”  And after I answer “Yes, fresh fish was a primary source of food,” the next question is: “How do you catch a fish under sail?”

“Very carefully,” I answer. “But sometimes, the fish just has to win.”

I’ve posted on SCRIBD an excerpt from my forthcoming book, the second in the “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss” trilogy, called SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC.  It is taken from the chapter “Passage to the Marquesas.”  In this chapter, my husband Gunter and I are sailing our catamaran, Pacific Bliss, directly from San Diego to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, over 3000 nautical miles away.

Here is a preview:

The One that Got Away

April 4, 2002

There is life out here today, over a thousand miles from the nearest land. Pairs of blue-and-yellow bonito weave alongside the hulls, pursuing schools of flying fish dashing frantically from the crest of one wave to another. The four of us stand on deck for a long time, braced against the dagger boards, watching the marvelous marine show.  We wonder when the next predator in the food chain will arrive, attracted by all the commotion.

It doesn’t take long. Just as we take a break for lunch, the whirl of the reel announces a fish on our line…

 The Second One that Got Away

April 6, 2002

Today, I awaken from my afternoon nap to hear commotion topside. “Lots of birds and dolphins,” Doug informs me, “and where there’s dolphins there’s fi-i-sh.” The reel whirrs as Doug rushes to the holder, picks up the rod, and begins to play the fish.

“Slow ‘er down!” he yells.

“How? We’re sailing.” Gunter heads for the controls at the starboard helm.

“Yeah, I know, at 8 knots. Turn into the wind, quick.” Doug can barely hold onto the rod…

Read the full version at:   http://www.scribd.com/doc/50473221/The-One-That-Got-Away

Pull back! Doug plays the fish

The Reel Bends to the Breaking Point

http://www.scribd.com/doc/50473221/The-One-That-Got-Away

Many New Year’s resolutions don’t pan out because you simply are not passionate about them.  Yet many of the passions you may have remain unfulfilled because you did not set them as a firm priority in your life.

I have one primary passion this year of 2011: sharing my travels through writing and photography.  My specific goal is to complete Book 2 of the trilogy “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss.” This book will be called SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC.  I look forward to writing it; in fact, I already drafted the first five chapters in 2010, before my focus became to get the first book, MAIDEN VOYAGE, published and available on www.Amazon.com

One might think that merely pursuing one’s passion is easy.  I like to write.  I like to adjust my travel photos in PhotoShop.  I love participating in the design-and-layout process involved in producing my coffee table books. But I learned one lesson well from sailing around the world: turning dreams into reality requires more than passion. So many other things in life tend to interfere.  Achieving a goal requires passion plus purpose.

So my purpose this year is to spend a minimum of two hours every day of creative writing.   My friend, the late “Captain Jack,” to whom my first book is dedicated, kept reminding me that 2 hours per day x 365 = 730 hours.  If a writer can write 1 page in each two-hour session, a reasonable expectation, he or she would have the draft of a 365-page book completed by the end of the year!

Posted on the door to my “writing den,” (I refuse to have an “office” since I retired from business), is the following poem by Horace Mann:

Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset,

two golden hours,

each set with sixty diamond minutes.

No reward is offered,

for they are gone forever.

Self publishing appears to be the method of choice for entrepreneurial minded authors.  I chose the self publishing route for my trilogy: In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss because no publisher would want to take on the risk and expense of publishing over 150 full color photos in each book, requiring all pages to be of high quality, coated paper stock.  But according to this article in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, big name authors have found out that they can make much more than the standard royalty through e-publishing. For example, crime writer Joe Konrath can’t wait for his books to go out of print so that he can publish on Amazon and other online outlets.  My first book in the Trilogy, MAIDEN VOYAGE is now available on Amazon.  The seller is PIP Productions, my own publishing company.

Please take a moment to “Like” my author page on Facebook.  Thank you for reading!

Our Thanksgiving was special this year. In addition to our “kids” Markus and Sabine, we had Sabine’s sister Maria and her friend Gottfried here from Germany.  This was their first traditional American Thanksgiving.  Gottfried was intensely interested in the process of taking the stuffing out of the 24-pound turkey. (See Photo.)

Gottfriend and Maria

Gottfried was our skipper from France to St. Lucia during our Voyage One.  And Maria joined us in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and sailed across the Atlantic with us.

Gottfried reminded me of the Thanksgiving celebration on Pacific Bliss, enduring heavy seas during the Gibraltar-to-Canaries passage.  This was definitely NOT traditional!  I used our pressure cooker to cook up a chicken and what was left of our tired vegetables. The seas were too “lumpy” to use our non-gimbaled oven!

Gottfried watches Gunter

Following is an excerpt from my new book, In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss: Maiden Voyage:

Thanksgiving at Sea

33°  30.5′ N, 9° 56′ W

…As clouds race in to snatch the sunrise, my thoughts turn toward traditional Thanksgiving celebrations with friends and family at home:  a giant turkey monopolizing the table, surrounded by dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, side dishes, with an assortment of pies on the side board.  I miss the phone calls to and from our children and others who can’t be with us.  It feels so, so lonesome out here.

Okay.  Get with it.  I continue my soliloquy at the helm while the guys are fast asleep…

I retrieve the pressure cooker and its cover with the rubber seals from our pan storage underneath the galley sink; then, I fill it with chicken, along with some tired celery and greens from the fridge.  I take the manual down from the recipe shelf, look up the correct amount of water, and bravely set it on the burner.  The cooker hisses steadily as it reaches full pressure.  Mesmerized, I think back to how, as a preschooler, I hid behind my barefooted mother’s muumuu-style housedress, peeking out to watch the steam volcano, waiting for it to “blow its top,” an expression my German father used all the time.  Now, I wait for the valve’s three red lines to appear, then watch Günter carefully lift it from the stove and into the sink.

It worked!  As Pacific Bliss lurches through the waves, the four of us enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner in the salon.  The chicken is not overcooked like my mother’s beef; it is surprisingly juicy and tasty, and the vegetables are firm.  Christian has recovered and regained his appetite.  Günter is hungry, as usual.  I’m starved.  And Gottfried is amazed.  “I never knew pressure cookers were so useful,” he admits.  “When I bought my used boat, I threw away the cover to the cooker because it wouldn’t fit well in the galley shelves.  I thought it took up too much space, so I used only the bottom, and then couldn’t find a good top to fit tight!”

This is a Gottcha Gottfried moment I cannot resist:  “Serves you right!”

We all break out laughing – especially Günter, who is a like-minded “minimalist.”  The two of them have been driving me berserk because they insisted on having as few items on the boat as possible, using the excuse that a catamaran must be kept light…

Now, on Thanksgiving, after gorging, we feel just like Americans always feel after their Thanksgiving dinners:  stuffed like a turkey.  And I store my pressure cooker, feeling like I have made a new friend.

Gunter carves the Big Bird

To read more, you need to buy the book!  It will be available on Amazon in a few weeks.

In the meantime, please read my original journal entry from our Thanksgiving at Sea by clicking here.