“What you see is what you get.” Not necessarily. Henry David Thoreau said, “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” As a philosopher, I think he was describing what we see internally.

It boils down to this: We only find the world we’re looking for. As photographers, we often search for that perfect landscape, the ones we’ve seen in the photography and travel magazines, only to miss what’s right before us. Instead, we should give up our preconceived ideas of what an image should be and open our minds to the unexpected.

I’ll give you a few examples from photos published in my new coffee table book called In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss: The Long Way Back.  

Visitors and residents flock to Darwin’s public beaches to view the glorious sunsets. While visiting there, of course, I planned to go there at sunset as well. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I arrived to find hundreds of people with the same idea as mine! Many of them had walked right into the surf to take their photos. Being short, I could never walk though that surf to get in front of them; nor I could I shoot over their heads! I decided to take a photo of everyone else taking a photo, and to describe what the people of Darwin came there to do.

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I used another example of this approach when I photographed a crew, Kate, on our catamaran, Pacific Bliss, looking back at the sunset behind her. We readers can then share in her moment of bliss.

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When entering the bleachers to see the dancers perform in the Festival of Pacific Arts in Palau, I caught sight of this dancer beneath the stands, putting on his make-up. That photo became one of my favorite pictures of that event.

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There was no way I was going to make it up all the way to the top of the pilgrimage to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) without beginning that climb at 3:30 a.m. so I could photograph the view from the top. I could, however, photograph those who were coming back down. This 82-year-old Sri Lankan guide has been leading pilgrimages there for the past twenty years.

IMG_8265 Indian Guide in her _80s_ Adams Peak_ Sri Lanka

Sometimes, I see someone walking into the scene and I wait patiently until he or she is just in the right spot:

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Other times, I want to portray how small people seem in relation to the immensity of the structure.

IMG_9465 Palace complex built into rock

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Truly “seeing” requires that we slow down, wait, and get into a different space in our heads. Try that the next time you take a photograph.

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It’s no surprise that I’m a lover of literature. I recently had a chance to answer some literary-related questions with Mikaela for her blog, A Place Like Me In A Girl Like This.

One of my favorite questions was, “What book is your childhood sweetheart? Why?.” To read my answer and chime in with yours, click here.

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It has to be done. It’s all part of the process. An author agonizes over writing every line of the book manuscript. Then he or she fusses about the editing, the formatting, the layout, the cover. When all that creative work is finally completed, the author—an introvert during this time, working in PJs—is forced to change roles and to promote his or product, first to get it published, and then to get it sold.

I’d gone through the process once, but that didn’t make it easier the second time around. Because now, with two books on the market and a third book still “in creative,” I’m expected to take on both roles, sometimes within the same day: donning my “presentation clothes” and my smiley face to promote the first two of the series, and then changing to my PJs and trying to get into my creative mode. Schizophrenic? You bet!

This spring, I presented at the Pt. Loma Optimists Club, MOAA (Military Officers Association) check exact name, Southwestern Yacht Club, Pacific Beach Library, and Upstart Crow in San Diego; and at Changing Hands bookstore in Phoenix. I exhibited at Strictly Sail Oakland (the largest sailboat convention on the West Coast), at the SCWC booth at the L.A. Festival of Books, and participated in the downtown library’s Local Author Exhibit. I gave on-line interviews and two podcasts: The Sailing Podcast by David Anderson, an Australian, and The Gathering Road on Women’s Radio, by Elaine Masters.

I breathed a sigh of relief when my last presentation on the Spring Author Tour, at West Marine on May 10th, was over.  I can’t say I enjoyed all the organizing, setting up the displays, and hauling those heavy books (over 2 pounds each) to various venues! Always, before I speak, I worry about forgetting what I want to say. So I update my cards, tailoring them for each event. But when I begin to speak, I relate to my audience and my stage fright dissipates. I just go with the flow. I wrote this nautical series because I wanted to share. I realize that when I speak, I’m still sharing, but in another way.

Gunter also frets over whether the computer and projector will work. But at the end, he loves interacting with audiences! The Q&A afterwards is our favorite part. Why? Perhaps it’s because we haven’t lost the love for that surge of adrenalin that occurs when one is living on the edge. We never know what question will lead to yet another revelation about adventure travel.

Audience questions challenge us and perk up our lives. And many of those we meet become our readers and our friends.

Here are a few photos from my Spring Author Tour. To see more, please visit my author Facebook page.

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Over the weekend, I worked on a chapter in the second book in my nautical trilogy In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss: SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC.  This chapter is titled  New Zealand Adventure. While writing a section called “Following in the Wake of Ancient Explorers,” I came across a statistic related to my hero, Captain James Cook.  That he “discovered” more of the earth’s surface than any other explorer is indisputable. Cook’s three epic voyages, though, are said to be the equivalent of sailing from the earth to the moon. Could that be true?   I fact checked the statement. Yes, indeed. The distance from the earth to the moon is 238,857 miles (384,403 km) but since the orbit is elliptical, this distance at the closest point is only 225,622 miles.

From my book (to be published in 2012):

“Ambition leads me not only further than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it is possible for a man to go,” said James Cook on January 30, 1774…His maps were so accurate that some are still used in our paper charts that we have on board Pacific Bliss.

“Cook’s Voyage of Discovery on the HMS Endeavor was launched in order to observe the transit of Venus, when the disc of Venus would pass over the face of the sun. Based on the length of time it took to do this, astronomers could calculate the distance between the earth and the sun, which it was thought would help to gauge the size and scale of the universe. Tahiti was perfectly positioned in the Southern Ocean to observe the Transit. When given command of the Endeavor in 1768, Cook was not even a lieutenant, let alone a captain. But Cook was an astronomer who was also known for his superb navigational skills, an ideal balance of seaman and scientist. The Transit observations proved disappointing, so Cook used his remaining time to survey Tahiti.”

“Cook was an amazing man! No wonder he is my hero.

“Sailing from Tahiti, Cook opened a sealed packet of orders from the British Admiralty: he was to sail to 40° south in search of the great Southern Continent. His men’s hands were freezing as Cook pushed on to 40° without sighting land, so he headed north and west to the coastline charted by Tasman over a hundred years earlier.

“Cook sighted land on October 1769. Although skeptical that this was the Great Southern Continent, Cook made a thorough survey of what turned out to be the two islands of New Zealand, which he claimed for King George III.  By the time he departed, he had established a life-long friendship with the local Maori, dashed the hope of a southern continent, and charted 2,400 miles (3860 km) of coastline—all this in less than three months of sailing.”

At the New Zealand Maritime Museum’s Store in Auckland, I purchased a few books about my hero. You may be interested in these: Captain’s Log, New Zealand’s Maritime History, by Gavin McLean; The Explorations of Captain James Cook in the Pacific, as Told by Selections of His Own Journals, Edited by A. Grenfell Price; and Captain James Cook by Richard Hough.

Cook’s First Voyage of Discovery 1768-1771

Image source:  Clip Art from Florida Educational Technology Clearing House

 

 

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

“Living your dream” is a mantra for Bob Bitchin, founder of Latitudes & Attitudes, the sailing magazine that first published my stories of our circumnavigation.

My mantra is the quote from Hellen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all,” often repeated in the first book of my trilogy, “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss: MAIDEN VOYAGE.”

On Sunday, February 6th, President Reagan would have turned 100. I was intrigued by the WSJ article by Peggy Noonan, a speech writer for Reagan.  In her article, “Ronald Reagan at 100,” she says, “He told me as he worked on his farewell address of a recurring dream he’d had through adulthood. He was going to live in a mansion with big rooms, “high ceilings, white walls.” He would think to himself in the dream that it was “a house that was available at a price I could afford.” He had the dream until he moved into the White House and never had it again. “Not once.”

Before I had the dream of sailing around the world, I lived in Minnesota and wanted to move, preferably to California, to escape the cold and cruel winters. When I would shut my eyes to do my affirmations, I had a vision of myself sitting in a big chair, looking through a picture window, down at the Pacific Ocean.  It wasn’t until after I met and married Gunter, that one day, sitting in that very chair, in our second-floor condo, I looked down at the view of Sail Bay and realized that indeed, that view had been my vision!

I’ve always learned best visually. When I began to write sailing stories, I had no problem describing what I saw. But it took some writing courses and extra effort to convey what I heard, tasted, and felt. When my book, “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss: MAIDEN VOYAGE” reached the production stage, I could not imagine grouping the photos in the middle or end of the book. I insisted that they be on the page with the story, so that the reader could be there, tagging along with me on my adventures. That’s why my book has over 150 full-color photos and maps.

I sincerely hope that this book will provide more than enjoyment, that it will help you visualize your own dream.  And that your dream will become a reality!

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.