Archive | Life Lessons

Just another daily storm at Isla Iguana, a couple days out from Panama City.

Vulnerable, Together: The Ocean and the Sailor

On the ocean, the horizon can feel crushingly wide. From the cockpit, we can only react to what the expanse reveals—and what it doesn’t, with frustratingly vague clues. As we sail through the tropics in rainy season—filled with towering thunderclouds and sudden, violent storms at any hour—we find ourselves often peering nervously into the horizon. […]

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Rich Country, Poor People: Life on the Panamanian Coast

“Panama is NOT a developing country.” The young sailor leans back in her chair in the tranquil courtyard of the marina. “They’ve got all the money from the canal. People are doing alright here.” A root-choked path filled often with thigh-high mud leads from our spot in the marina to an indigenous village less than […]

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A Coast With No Water

All I can see are breaking waves. I stand up on the lazarette and lean onto the dodger to steady the binoculars. There is supposed to be a channel clearly marked with lighted buoys, our first entrance to Nicaragua. We left Honduras early and had a favorable current pushing us south from the Gulf of […]

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The Brewing Storm: Coffee Steeped in Climate Change

I walk into the cabin and have to suppress a gasp. My friend Jon sits on the bed, his entire body covered in lumpy, bright red hives. “My lips feel weird. They’re all swollen.” “I gave him the allergy pill already,” Shannon, his partner, is unnecessarily tidying, something I have noticed she does when she […]

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Oleada heels in a gust as the rain pelts the cockpit.

Into the Wind

Three weeks ago and a few days before the US election, we faced a building storm in one of the most remote areas of Caribbean Panama. Totally alone out on the ocean, our transmission died just as I was hoisting the main sail as we departed from an offshore island. We were leaving an anchorage […]

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Any sunset on the water is a good one.

The Truth About Researching by Sail

This blog could also be called ‘Why Sailboats Are the Slowest Possible Way to Get Anywhere.’ Or maybe ‘Research is Tough Enough Without Doing it From a Sailboat.’ Or perhaps ‘How a Sailboat Teaches Me What It Really Means to Learn.’ Let me explain. After we pulled up the hook in Chacala, we made our […]

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Shannon and I test the water and we think it will do just fine.

The Unfinished Path: Yoga for the People in Chacala

When we sailed into a little bay in the center of Mexico’s Pacific coast, we came to meet old friends. But because we stayed in this town for a couple weeks, I found myself facing some of the uneasy questions of development in Mexico. I didn’t figure it out until much later, but this little […]

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Blue-footed Boobies at the edge of the sea.

What Can a National Park Do?

“Mexico has many good laws.” Professor Martín Soto leans back from behind a clump of papers on his desk and sighs. “It’s the enforcement that lacks.” I’m sitting in Martin’s office on the second story of the Marine Science and Limnology Institute in Mazatlán, Mexico. The building hangs on the edge of a cliff above […]

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Mazatlán and the rising tide just outside of the marina. The breakwater becomes impassable with bigger swells.

Getting It Wrong: Fear and Learning in Mazatlán

I love giving presentations. It’s sick, I know. But I used to fear it deeply. I have a friend who is a professional street performer, and I have always admired his ability to withstand the potentially saucy, unforgiving, or worst of all, bored crowd. But as the result of training and good advice during my […]

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We finally made it! The Quepos anchorage, Oleada in the background.

Sailing to Your Wedding …and other ill-advised feats

You may have noticed the quiet state of this blog for the past few months. This is not because a meditative calm has pervaded throughout the Pacific, or because we have stopped sailing and settled down in the mango-laden mountains of Central America, or even because we have found the perfect wave for Josh.   […]

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