Last May, eight of us boarded Coral of Cowes, a 80-foot wooden schooner built in 1902, for an adventure of a lifetime. We sailed from Sint Maarten in the Caribbean to Portugal’s Azore Islands in 16 days experiencing the awesome beauty of the ocean and three wicked North Atlantic storms. Read all about it in my article TransAtlantic Tradition in the February 2016 issue of Sailing Magazine.
After The Ax
Klein Bonaire is a small, uninhabited island in the southern Caribbean Sea. Its story is similar to many islands’ woes around the world. Isolated and unprotected, but rich in natural resources, this islet was exploited over centuries for profit and gain. But After The Ax in the Winter 2015 issue of Earth Island Journal shows how a dedicated few can reverse an ecological disaster. Read all about it in my recent article at http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/after_the_ax/
A Mokoro Adventure Through the Okavango Delta
In my second article for WoodenBoat Magazine I write about mekoro, long, narrow, handcrafted canoes that have plied Botswana’s Okavango Delta for millennia. In researching this story, I got to spend three adventurous days with Balebogeng “Bally” Mbwe. Bally comes from a family of mokoro builders. He also was my guide, calmly poling our 16-foot dugout canoe past herds of zebra, gangs of hippos and one tense bull elephant a mere twenty-five yards away from the boat. You can read all about it in the November/December 2014 issue of WoodenBoat Magazine, pages 14-15.
If This Hull Could Speak
Every once in awhile there is a boat that supersedes reality and those who surround it. That is true with the Askoy II, a magnificent steel ketch from Belgium that has survived decades at sea, a traumatic ship wreck and a cast of amazing characters from sea gypsies to a world super star singer and drug runners. Now the boat is back home in Belgium and is being fully restored after being rescued as a rusting hulk off a sandy beach in New Zealand. If This Hull Could Speak documents this amazing story. You can read it in the October 2014 issue of Sailing Magazine.
In the September 2014 issue of Sailing Magazine is my latest feature story, What’s Old Is New. The story focuses on four boats that raced in the 2014 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta for the first time. They include the 131-foot long Rainbow JH2, a replica of the original J-boat Rainbow launched in 1934 at the Herreshoff Yard in Bristol, Rhode Island; Chronos, a 177-foot, steel hulled, custom ketch; Grayhound, a replica of the 1776 that served as a privateer during America’s war for independence; and the Spirit of Callisto, a Spirit yawl that hails from the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
My first article for WoodenBoat Magazine, Grayhound’s Encore, can be found in the publication’s 2014 September-October issue. The original Grayhound was a British privateer built in 1776 that helped stem the flow of goods to the upstart American republic. I spent three years covering the evolution of this historical replica from its 2011 launch in England to the 2014 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in the Caribbean where the new Grayhound turned a lot of heads. During this time, I had the pleasure of getting to know Freya Hart and Marcus Rowden, the dedicated owners who hocked house, home and two boats to make their amazing dream a reality. You can sail with them http://www.classic-sailing.co.uk/vessels/grayhound-lugger
This year Bonaire lost one of its greats, Captain Don Stewart. He was responsible for pioneering the dive industry on the island. But he was also a sailor who never left. In my story, Eight Bells For Captain Don, I chronicle Don’s reluctant love affair with sailing and boats. Read all about it in the August 2014 edition of All At Sea, Page 68. http://www.allatsea.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/all-at-sea-caribbean-0814.pdf
Tern Island was built by Cargill Corporation in the southern part of Bonaire in Spring, 2014. My story reports on the success of this public/private partnership in safeguarding nesting activities for Least Terns on the island. This is my third article for Earth Touch News this year. It can be read at http://www.earthtouchnews.com/wildlife/conservation/in-the-caribbean-building-an-island-to-keep-birds-safe
The Return of the Sky Giants is about the reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles to Scotland after their demise nearly 100 years ago. It reports on the recent discovery of the first east coast nest since the first eagle chicks were released in the region in 2008. For the full story, log on to Earth Touch News. http://www.earthtouchnews.com/wildlife/conservation/comeback-birds-how-imported-sea-eagles-found-a-new-home-in-scotland
The Big Squeeze begins in Aruba’s Arikok National Park with Diego Marquez, a steel-nerved biologist who is now director. “I often go hunting at what we call the Boa Forest. Not all the rangers want to go there. A few times I’ve seen so many boa constrictors that it sent chills down the spine.”
The Big Squeeze is about how this invasive species is threatening animals in Aruba’s natural world. From the cascabel, Aruba’s rare rattlesnake to the shoko, a subspecies of burrowing owl and the island’s national bird, boa constrictors are wreaking havoc. But The Big Squeeze also points out that unchecked development and a rapidly increasing population are also impacting nature due to habitat fragmentation. Read all about it at Earth Touch, a multimedia outlet for everything happening in our natural world.
In the February 2014 issue of Sailing Magazine you will find my article about a voyage of two sailboats from Bonaire to Venezuela’s isolated Aves Islands. Being in the Aves is like going back in primordial time. Nature dominates with enormous flocks of egrets, terns and red footed boobies. These pristine spits of coral and snow-white beaches offer sailors tranquil respite from today’s modern world. Sailing here is a travel back in time to what the Caribbean was like hundreds of years ago, a wild utopia of sand, seahorse and shark.
I just placed a story on Orion Magazine‘s web site in a section titled The Place Where You Live. My story, of course, is about Bonaire. Specifically, I talk about my time walking the tideline on the southern beaches of the island. Orion Magazine is an award-winning environmental publication that has been around since 1982. You can read the story at:
In the July 2013 issue of Caribbean Compass check out my feature article, Taking A Deep Breath, about freediving on Bonaire. Hear from Leo Hoggenboom about the zen aspects of taking the plunge with only your breath. His wife, Zsuzsanna Pusztai, supplies her stunning underwater photography and explains why freediving allows her upclose encounters with the creatures below. And Karol Meyer, a world record-holder from Brazil explains what it is like to dive to incredible depths of 200 feet or more using only her lungs. It starts on Page 22, http://www.caribbeancompass.com/online.html
I enjoyed writing about my home island for this article in the June issue of All At Sea. Bonaire has experienced a rapid resurgence in sailing in the past year. From charter yachts to sporty daysailers, people now have a choice in how to enjoy the island’s gin clear waters and dolphins off the bow. Ready to cast off? Find out how to do it at http://www.allatsea.net/caribbean/resurgent-bonaire-sailing/
Small victories against massive problems is the theme of From Plastics To Pleasure, which can be found in the June issue of the Caribbean Compass, Page 12. John Webb, a tourist to Bonaire, crafted a kayak from beach trash and then donated it to a local dive shop. Dive Friends is now using the boat to further its campaign to rid Bonaire beaches of plastic trash. Read all about it at http://www.caribbeancompass.com/online.html
A Race To Save A Continent
When Katharine and David Lowrie kicked off their epic run from the tip of Tierra Del Fuego, Chile, athletes half way around the world were gathering in the couple’s homeland for the 2012 London Summer Games. Those Olympians have long since stopped their runs. The Lowries have not. They are attempting to run the length of South America in just over a year. That is the equivalent of running over 200 marathons in 12 months. No one has ever traversed the continent like this. I caught up with the couple in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, midway in their record setting trek. Read their story, A Race To Save A Continent in Earth Island Journal. http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/a_race_to_save_a_continent/
In the April 2013 issue of Islands Magazine is my recent article, Wind Guru. This story is about Elvis Martinus who was one of the Bonairans responsible for pioneering windsurfing on the island. But perhaps Elvis’s greatest contribution is how he has encouraged youth to engage in the sport. For the full story, read the Making A Difference section in Islands.
In the March 2013 issue of Sailing Magazine is my report on the Oyster World Rally. No, not those succulent bivalve molluscs that are served on the half shell. Rather these Oysters are high end sailboats made in England. Nearly thirty Oysters departed Antigua in January and kicked off a 27,000-mile, 16-month sojourn around the globe. Most of the yachts stopped off in Bonaire on the way to the Panama Canal. I got to interview several of the skippers on board about their journeys. The article can be found in the Splashes section of the magazine.
The Last Boat Built
In the February 2013 issue of Sailing Magazine you can find my article, The Last Boat Built. It is a story of a Swedish-built sloop constructed by world cruisers Caroline and Ola Svennson who I had the opportunity to meet during their visit to Bonaire. The young couple invited us aboard to circumnavigate the island. It was a pleasurable 12-hour sail that allowed me to take the helm of their Linjette 35 sloop and enjoy its sailing prowess. As the story title suggests, ReLax is the last of the line, #102, built at the Swedish boutique boatyard, Rosättra, near Stockholm. Caroline and Ola continued their Caribbean cruise and are now enjoying the San Blas Islands of Panama.
While in Scotland this summer, I got to spend a day with Simon Jones who heads up the Scottish Beaver Trial in the picturesque Knapdale Forest of Argyll, Scotland. My report on this project can be found online at Earth Island Journal. The article also includes Martin Gaywood of the Scottish Natural Heritage who delivers the big picture on the rewilding efforts in Scotland.
Hunters of the Scottish Skies
In the Winter 2013 issue of Earth Island Journal you will find my article about the reintroduction of White-Tailed Eagles into the wilds of Scotland. It is an amazing story about the resiliency of an incredible animal and the tenacity of people dedicated to the preservation of our planet. I was humbled by both during the writing of this story. Log on to:
I was also fortunate to reconnect with a dear friend and staunch conservationist, Rhian Evans. My spouse, Hettie, and I traveled to Scotland in the summer of 2012 and followed Rhian as she completed a 35 year project to bring back the eagles to their ancestral home. Seeing her and others committed to making this a better planet to live in for all was inspiring.
I witnessed the majesty of adult White-tailed Eagles as they soared above the Sea of Hebrides on the western coast of Scotland and the youthful exuberance of juvenile eagles brought in from Norway to populate the eastern shores of the British north. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that impressed me immensely. The power of nature can be lost in the drive to control our destiny, which at times, can be detrimental. There is much to be learned by eagles and other living beings if only we open our souls to what surrounds us.
Spanning The Globe
In the July 2012 issue of Sailing Magazine you will find my article, Behemoth Beauty (the magazine’s choice of title, not mine). It is a story about my time aboard the largest catamaran in the world, Hemisphere. I was fortunate enough to have a personal tour given by the mega-yacht’s captain, British-born Gavan Bladen. We spent the better part of an afternoon exploring this magnificent catamaran. Below deck is a world of organic opulence created from exotic woods, polished stones, textured leather and brushed metal. Above deck, Hemisphere dwarfs any boat of its kind. As Captain Bladen explains, “We are the largest catamaran in the world. “We’re just under the magical 500 (gross tons), which frees us from a number of regulation requirements. Douce France, the world’s next biggest cat at 137 feet, is only 300 gross tons. If we tied up alongside her, that boat’s coach roof would barely reach our deck level.” Welcome to the bold world of sailing mega-yachts where size does matter. Behemoth Beauty will take you there.
There comes a time when traditional press becomes a barrier to stories that need to be heard. Such is the case with my story, Paradise In Peril. It is about how the island of Sint Maartin is at the crucial point of destroying the last of what draws many dollar-touting tourists to this Caribbean destination. I had pitched it to Orion Magazine, which took nearly a year to decide if they wanted it. Eleven months later, it was rejected. Then Environment Magazine expressed interest last October, but said that it would fit better in their new format change. Six months later, the change had still not taken place nor was there any indication when this would occur. I decided that my journalistic effort that took a year of research, two trips to Sint Maarten and extensive interviews and writing, needed to be read.
Thank goodness for Green Antilles, an internet site dedicated to posting stories about critical issues facing the Caribbean. I did additional research and updated the article. Now Paradise In Peril will be read by hundreds, perhaps thousands. It is a story that needs to be heard. As Frank Boukhout, a Sint Maarten conservationist, proclaims in the article, “Since we live on an island, the consequences of our actions are immediately more apparent. What is happening here on Sint Maarten should serve as a warning to the rest of the planet.” Log on to Green Antilles for the full story. http://www.greenantilles.com/2012/04/01/st-maarten-paradise-in-peril/ It has also been released to Sint Maarten’s English newspaper, The Daily Herald for publication in their WEEKender section.
Taking It To The Bank
This is my first article for Pilares, a publication of IUNC-the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization. Taking It To The Bank is an article about the Saba Bank, the third largest submerged atoll on Earth. After decades of reef-destroying anchoring and over-fishing, the article explores what is being done to preserve this amazing underwater wonder.
I wrote the article for the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, a non-profit organization that has the mission of safeguarding the land and marine parks in the Dutch islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten. When on Saba for the story, the seas were so rough that even the local fishermen were not going to the Bank. Hats off to Paul Hoetjes, nature policy coordinator for the Caribbean Netherlands, for supplying the underwater photos from previous expeditions. Enjoy the read…Taking It To The Bank-Pilares
Invaders of the Reef
In the Spring 2012 issue of Earth Island Journal you can find my article, Invaders of the Reef, a story about how the red lionfish is taking over waters of coastal North America and the Caribbean Sea. Much is being done about the problem on Bonaire and the efforts of the national marine park, dedicated volunteers, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and even chefs like Hagen Wegerer are making a difference. On newsstands now or log on to http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/invaders_of_the_reef/
Terns in Paradise
In March 2012, the April issue of BirdWatching Magazine will hit the newsstands, which includes my most recent article, Terns In Paradise. The story takes place in Aruba where for five days I follow intrepid avian ecologist Adrian del Nevo as he studies the terns, the only place on the planet where ten species gather to nest. We visit five tiny islands of San Nicolas Bay, far from the glitter of Aruba’s hotel row. These mere spits of sand, coral and scrub in the southern Caribbean Sea hold the promise of rebirth for these resilient sea birds. Terns in Paradise focuses on the efforts of many to preserve this special place on our planet. Nearly 15% of the world’s terns nest on these tiny Aruban islets. Perhaps more importantly, it is a chronicle of wonderment, one that even in this age of increasing environmental encroachment and cutting-edge science, defies easy explanation.
Top of the Kingdom
Check out the second edition of Caribbean Beach News Magazine for my journey to a mysterious volcano of cloud forests, opulent orchids and island rogues. Top of the Kingdom features amazing treks on the island’s trails, a chat with ex-seaman Eddie Hassell-now owner of the Swinging Doors Saloon, and the art of Stacey Simmons who paints Saba’s lush rainforest in bold, colorful abstracts. This is my first article for Caribbean Beach News Magazine, a new, Sint Maarten-based publication that started in December 2011. You can find Top of the Kingdom at http://www.caribbeanbeachnews.com/CBN_issue_2.html
My article in the January 2012 issue of Sailing Magazine chronicles the extraordinary efforts of an English crew building a full size replica of a British lugger called Grayhound. The original ship was built in 1776 and was used as a privateer to captures guns and goods going to the American colonists. Ocean yachtmaster Freya Hart and project manager Marcus Rowden are leading a group of seven to complete the new Grayhound for launch by August 2012. I’ve been invited to attend the grand event near Plymouth, England. How could I miss it?
Did you ever wonder how it would feel to glide over the Caribbean blue while piloting a sea plane? I sure did. You can live the dream and discover much more in the December 2011 issue of ISLANDS Magazine. My article, Island Pilot can be found in the Live The Life section on Page 34-35. My subject is Jeff Newton, a fly boy who hails from Arizona, but landed down island and never looked back. He gives a hilarious interview about his sea plane run from St.Croix to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Jeff has seen it all–from strange ‘live’ cargo to island rogues.
What happens when a sailor, an ornithologist and a 75-year old sailing ship get together? Find out in the June, 2011 issue of Sailing Magazine. This feature story tracks Dave and Katherine Lowrie’s adventure of a lifetime. The young British couple is sailing their beloved wooden schooner, the Lista Light around the globe. As Dave quips, “Her name sounds a bit like a low-fat margarine.” Not only is the duo taking on the challenges of a major voyage, but they are on a scientific expedition studying seabirds of the oceans. As Katherine shares, “Seabirds are so crucially important. They are part of a very complex food web. They will eat the slower fish, the weaker ones, keeping the populations in peak health. So they are moderators of certain species and promoters of others and it’s all part of that very complex, but healthy and balanced ecosystem.”
Ten Years After
Now midstream in already my tenth year of writing for popular press, I look back on the changes that have shaken the industry. You have probably heard about some of this. Major newspapers have folded. Mega-media groups conquer and consolidate. Traditional readership audiences are fragmented due to the lure of instant-gratification new media.
Of the outlets that I began writing for in 2002 only one remains, and for a freelancer, it has become unreliable in its payments and unresponsive to my queries. Gone are the small-but-great publications like Water’s Edge, Ventanas del Valle, Fiery Foods Magazine and Sabroso! I really enjoyed writing for them and without editors like Dave De Witt who had early faith in my writing skills; I may have never cracked into this über competitive business.
Recently, I have spent much energy and time seeking out other publications, developing relationships and trust with new editors, and broadening my topic choices. These days, I write little about food, wine or travel. Rather, I have expanded into writing environmental pieces, character profiles and continue to expound on my passion, sailing. 2011 has been productive and the rest of the year looks promising. ISLANDS Magazine will be carrying my profile on Jeff Newton, a seaplane pilot based out of Saint Croix in the USVI. And Birdwatching Magazine has asked me to write on spec The Mystery of the Ten Terns, an article that I will be doing in July on Aruba—a surprising, global hotspot for sea birds. Other stories are in the works, so stay tuned. As they come to fruition, I will post news about their release on this blog.
In the April 2011 issue of Sailing Magazine you will find my article about teenager Laura Dekker who hopes to break the world’s record for the youngest solo sailor to circumnavigate the world. Dekker, 15, visited Bonaire this year and held a press conference to tell about her voyage. She began her solo sail from Gibraltar on August 21, 2010 and hopes to return there before July 2012 to break the record set by young Australian Jessica Watson in May 2010. If precociousness and rudeness are the only criteria, Dekker will have no problem beating the deadline. Many thanks to writer/photographer Mallory Smith for helping me out with this report.
This is my first article for All At Sea, a Miami -based publication billed as The Caribbean’s Waterfront Magazine. While on assignment in Sint Maarten this past fall, I had the opportunity to meet editor, Gary Brown. He mentioned that he wouldn’t mind seeing an article from the southern Caribbean. Soon after, I sent him Green Cargo, a story about a company called Freetransport that hopes to revive sailing cargo ships in a way that is competitive in the world of oil-based freighter shipping. You can read the article in the March issue of All At Sea.
The March 2011 issue of Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine, on newsstands now, features my story on Hannah Madden, a ranger for the Sint Eustatius National Park. Hannah has committed to serving as a guardian of the 18 species of orchids that exist on Statia, a tiny Dutch island in the northeast Caribbean. The article takes place in the Quill, a 2000-ft volcano with lush rain forests of towering trees, exquisite bromeliads and dense vines. Dig on the photos above. You won’t see them in the magazine.
Trekking Lagadishi appeared in the October 2010 issue of Caribbean Compass Magazine. The story was originally posted on this blog as Island Notes 61. Trekking Lagadishi is about a trek on the Lagadishi (lizard) Trail in Bonaire’s Washington Slagbaai National Park.
Want to know what it’s like to spend three days in a Force 9 storm in the middle of the Caribbean Sea? Check out the August 2010 issue of Sailing Magazine. My article, Two Hulls To Jamaica, chronicles the storm, a first place winning in the Bonaire International Regatta and other wild adventures aboard Worldwide Traveller, a 47-foot Catana catamaran.
The April 2010 issue of Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine features my recent article, Looking For Lora. Loras are stunning yellow-shouldered parrots that live on the island of Bonaire. They are also an endangered species that is facing habitat destruction and threats by humans from poaching. The story focuses on the exploits of a team of scientists dedicated to preserving this exquisite creature.
Kontentu’s First Trip Around the Sun
The February edition of the Caribbean Compass features my reflections of sailing a small boat in the Caribbean. First featured on this blog in November 2009 as Island Notes #44, the article chronicles my boat’s first year on the water.
Turtles In Paradise
The January 2010 issue of the Caribbean Compass features my latest article, Turtles In Paradise. Lac Bay, Bonaire’s exotic lagoon and important sea turtle feeding ground is presented. Many thanks to Kevin Favreau for supplying the stunning title close-up of a hawksbill turtle.
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB), a non-profit environmental organization, is also featured in the piece. Their work here is fundamental to the preservation and well being of sea turtles throughout the Caribbean.
Tug of the Sea
Tug of the Sea is a hilarious and harrowing story of my adventure aboard Lucaya, a massive tugboat based out of Kralendijk, Bonaire. After months of wrangling permission to go aboard, I find myself at the wheel of the tug speeding toward a ship-eating reef! The article was published in the August edition of Caribbean Compass.
The story is originally from my Island Notes series. This is my first article for Caribbean Compass, a monthly publication out of Bequia. I was fortunate to discover the magazine nearly ten years ago while sailing through the Grenadines in the eastern Caribbean. Now I get to write for them.
Last Stand in the Kunuku
One woman’s battle to save her island’s plants & culture.
This is my first article for Earth Island Journal. It can be found in the Summer 2009 issue.
Small Boat, Little Island, Big Fun
This piece, in the June 2009 issue of Sailing Magazine features my sailboat “Kontentu” on a day adventure around the off-shore island of Klein Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean.
Radio Series On Sea Turtle Conservation
At last year’s Bonaire Jazz Festival I was fortunate to hear Izaline Calister, a renowned Antillean jazz singer, perform to a captivated audience. Her lovely voice provided the spark for me to create a new public service announcement radio series, Did You Know for Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.
Izaline’s smash hit, “He Le Le” provides the music background for the 30-second announcements. She also announces the introduction and ending of each spot. In between, announcer Chris Richards from Curacao delivers the specific message for each spot. Music composer and sound recordist Jan de Kruijf from Amsterdam directed Calister’s recording session in the Netherlands in March. All donated their talent, time and energy to this important project.
These public service announcements in Papiamentu and English were distributed in June 2009 to radio stations in all five islands of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The series is designed to inform the island residents of the importance of sea turtles to their environment and economy.