Entries by Bo Bryan

Listening Inside

Sailing single-handed you don’t sleep much, not for very long at a stretch. Like you don’t sleep caring for a restless newborn, except on a boat, the first time you go alone the newborn is yourself. Everything about the ocean looks brand new, as though you’ve never seen it before. Out of sight of land, […]

Slow Leak

Having a baby is very like offshore sailing: ahead of the birth, before setting sail, you think you have a plan, all laid out as a series of lines drawn on a chart of the open ocean, the future. You plot a course from Point A to Point B. On the chart of your imagination […]


The first rule at sea is don’t fall off; you never let go unless the vessel sinks out from under you. Most sailboats, like most marriages, can withstand more stress in heavy weather than the sailors or the lovers. On the morning I set sail for Key West, the sky over Mobile Bay was dreary. […]

The Sensation of Yes

I was glad to be alone with the boat. Not having a pregnant wife close by, the obligation I felt to attend her every need was lifted, I was free to go all day as I pleased. There was work to do on Mysterion, repairs to make, supplies to gather, navigation to study for the […]


Coming into Mobile Bay, tying up at Dog River Marina, I had a decision to make: whether to sail for Key West, across the Gulf of Mexico, or take the Inland Waterway down the peninsula, and hop outside where the bridges were too low for the boat. The direct route would be four to six […]

Virtue of the Easy Way

We had been on the move for a month. Starting out, I had tried to teach Betsy how to manage the boat, taking any opportunity to teach and keep her informed of the process, make her part of it. Of course she was pregnant. The workings of a sailboat held no interest. Her preoccupation was […]


I saw signs in the flight of birds. “Auspices” the ancient seers had called the signs, who had made their observations to advise emperors in leading nations. If they were crazy, the majority of mankind had followed lunatics. In the Bible, I could find no instance of the prophets consulting pelicans to lead them, but […]

What Independent Means

I was supposed to be independently wealthy. How else could I pay cash for a sailboat and afford to be without a job? Did I feel rich, spending all of my time cruising on the Inland Waterway across Texas and Louisiana? Looking into the future, I could see myself independently going broke. The only source […]


We anchored in Sabine Pass, among giant oil rigs used for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. There were a hundred of them—I don’t know how many—mothballed, standing idle in the shallows along the channel leading to open water. Raised up high on cylindrical steel legs, their platforms supported what looked like shabby apartment buildings, […]