A Decade at Sea!!!


So, on 09/09/1999 Dena and James signed the papers for the sailing vessel Sovereign Nation and effectively sailed off into the sunset…


…Now here we sit at the top of the food chain, at the top of the second decade of the 21st century exactly ten years after we set sail on our first boat together 10,000 nautical miles later and still loving each other, our lives and the decisions we’ve made together. I know, I know not exactly a world record but a record non-the-less for the two of us that’s for sure!

Whenever we (as humans) reach these land marks in time we tend to get all sentimental and shit and recap those adventures in our heads and for us the word “adventures” really does fit the bill. So for all of you out there that have just recently joined our program let me just give you the “Sports Center” style recap of…

!!!The Amazing Adventures Of Dena and James- A Decade at Sea!!!

(the sound-bite version)

9/9/99- bought our first boat together a wooden fifty foot, William Garden Sea Wolf ketch rigged sailboat that we named S/V Sovereign Nation and upon boarding her for the first time Dena slipped and broke her left arm…

10/25/99- Our first big adventure aboard SVSN… We’d planned to go to Doe-Bay on Orcas Island (were we’d been married the year before) but got stuck in Oak Harbor, WA after getting hit by a terrible storm in the Saratoga Passage between Whidbey Island and Camano Island. The storm lasted for four days and was the worst storm in 25 years with winds reaching 65 knots with fallowing seas from 10 to 13 feet. We had a wet boat, a ton of bruises and a dreadfully sick cat. BUT, as we rounded the last channel marker a local T.V. crew caught us on camera and interviewed us after we made landfall. After describing our adventure to the interviewer She asked me if I’d ever do anything like that again, my reply; “Are you kidding me, we live for this shit!”

11/15/1999 to 12/31/1999- Our first haul-out of SVSN. After replacing the deck with a drunken fuck-up as our “ship-wrong” we splashed our Sovereign Nation and headed for Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island, WA.

01/01/2000-07/01/2000 We lived aboard SVSN as “sneak-aboards” for the next six months… (high lights include; rowing across Eagle Harbor every morning to the Ferry terminal and taking the ferry into Seattle every day and sailing our ship in Elliot Bay with friends and family.)

07/01/2000-09/09/2000- Gunkholing in the San Jaun Islands! A beautiful sailing adventure all throughout the Islands of the Northern Washington coast that ended with the two of us at anchor on an island looking at a bright spot on the horizon saying to each other “That is our next home!”

09/10/2000-07/15/2001- Blaine, WA. This was our first official Port-of Call… After making land-fall we quickly got jobs with the local newspaper, me as the photographer and Dena as one of the features writers. I also got a job at the Inn at Semiahmoo as the woodworker for the Inn. We made some great friends, shot some great pictures and started building our first website… “sovereignnation.com”

07/15/2001-09/16/2001- We sailed from Blaine, WA. to Eureka, CA. Our first off shore adventure together!!! Highlights include; Sunfish, dolphins, Orca’s and two airplanes smashing into two buildings in New York City…

09/16/2001-04/20/2002- Wet, tired and broke we made land-fall in Eureka, CA. and got work at the only place in that crappy little town that we could find… Dena sold glasses at the mall and worked the graveyard shift at a local breakfast joint and I worked at SEARS as a stock-boy… (After we’d had enough of that horrible little bum-fuck town Dena got a job in Oakland, CA. working for Toys in Babeland and we left SVSN in Eureka and moved our bodies to downtown San Fransisco…)

06/17/2002-09/17/2006- San Fransisco, Emeryville, Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland, CA… On the 17th of May in 2002 I got a phone call from the Eureka public marina saying that SVSN had been hit by a plastic-destroyer at the dock and the taft-rail, mizen boom-gallows and mizzen boom had been torn off the boat!!! Dena and I took the weekend off and went down to Eureka to sail SVSN down to the San Fransisco Bay… We Jerry-rigged the boat and sailed her down to SF.

On the 21st of May in the year 2002 we sailed our broken boat out of the Humbolt Bay into the Pacific Ocean once again… As we rounded Cape Mendocino we had 40 foot seas for ten hours!!! “WAVES the SIZE of WALMARTS” We watched our beautiful 6ft wooden lapstrake dory get destroyed by one of the biggest of those aforementioned monster-waves and made land-fall in Emeryville, CA. at 0201h on the 23rd of May 2002, just 55 hours after setting sail in Eureka… 55 hours that are as real to me today as if I had just lived through them yesterday!!! 55 hours that we will NEVER FORGET!

…We lived in the San Fransisco Bay for four years on two boats. After repairing SVSN we sold our Sovereign Nation to three sailors from the Czech Republic and they sailed her to the Mediterranean Sea from Richmond, CA. in the spring of 2004. We bought our next boat, S/V Sapien, a 1989 Gulf-32 pilothouse sloop, from Dena’s dad and put over 5000 nautical miles under her full keel over the next two years as we made her ready for our next big adventure, (highlights include, a two week sailing adventure up the California Delta and an incredible off shore sail down the coast of California to Monterray, CA.),  San Fransisco to Hawaii!!!

9/17/2006- 10/06/2006- San Fransisco, CA to Hilo, Hawaii!!! Yes we sailed a 32 foot sailboat 2040 nautical miles from the San Fransisco Bay to the Big Island of Hawaii, it took us 20 days and once again confirmed that, not only were we invincible but sailing around the world was the way we wanted to spend the rest of our lives!

10/06/2006-10/18/2007- After living on the hook in Hilo for four months and NOT finding work there we circumnavigated the Big Island of Hawaii to Kona where we lived for another four months before sailing to Honolulu, Hawaii on the Island of Oahu. We were able to find pretty good jobs there and a permanent slip for S/V Sapien but found that living under the shadow of debt-culture and across from an airport in “paradise” wasn’t the life that we had planned so we sold that boat, paid off all of our debts and briefly moved back to mainland just long enough to fall in and out of love with a fucked-up alcoholic hairdresser… Anyway, that is another story all together!

…Then we moved to Moses Lake, WA. saved up enough money to move to India (see India blog entries)…

12/25/2008-Present- So there we were in Trivandrum, Kerala, India looking at boats on E-Bay when I stumbled upon a beautiful 1961 Phillip Rhodes Chesapeake sloop rigged 32 foot sail boat. Dena and I had spent the last 6 months exploring the Indian subcontinent and writing our separate works of fiction and we both knew, at that moment, it was time to go back to sea. It took us a little over a month to sell off all of our furniture and our Bullet (our Royal Enfield, Bullet motorcycle) but we did and thus moved back to the USA to Norfolk, Virginia to take possession of our new boat.

…Well, yesterday was the 9th of September 2009, our tenth anniversary of living our dreams and once again we made two profound decisions that will forever change our lives…

1) I will spend the next 6 months finishing and preparing my manuscript “!RADIO! Vol-1” for publication and…

2) We will name our new boat, S/V Sovereign Nation as well…

…So from this point on, we will start preparing ourselves for our next big adventure, Norfolk, VA. across another pond to circumnavigate The Mediterranean Sea in our new SOVEREIGN NATION!!!



  1. To the coolest guy I know,
    First , I would like to say , Good luck & God bless . I’ve been waiting to see where you would go to before winter approached. I’ve always found your adventure stories very interesting and your employment history comical.
    O.K. so your not an art dealer Fucking hilarious !!! Braddah, I am waiting for you to sail back to Oahu, from the west side… Aloha and don’t bang your head this time fixing the boat

  2. Everything he says is absolutely true, even when not exactly factual (the only example being my ex-facto promotion at the newspaper in Blaine). Wow – boiling it all down brings a belly-laugh and a tear at the same time…love it!

    We have far to go – as far as anyone else on this earth. Between us and death, there is a world of adventure, fun, tribulation, and learning. May we never stop.

    Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither.” My version would go “Those who would trade freedom, learning, adventure, growth, and wonderment for security deserve neither.” I know, harder to fit on a bumper sticker, but I believe that freedom is one among many “dangerous” elements that I refuse to live without. So here we go, always trading security for the more expansive options…

  3. C’mon, don’t you remember going up to the mountains for the Mt. Baker Experience for their X-Mas issue, it wasn’t just for the ad sales that we did that, and you remember the train… and, and!!!
    Your words made me fall in love with you but it was your actions that drove me to make you love me… A Nation of two, us!

  4. To my can making brudda from another Island… Damn, I didn’t tell the story of how I ended up working for you my friend, a great adventure tale to say the least, and how you put me in a cage and tortured me for 6 weeks and how at the end of my time in THE CAGE you tried to get my hands chopped off in a Deadly MAN EATING BOX MAKING Machine that you quickly replaced after I soaked you down to the birthday suit with purple sugar water… Shaka, BOSS MAN!

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