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Guest Blog: Amy McCullough on the Risks and Rewards of Cruising Life

We’d like to thank Amy for her fantastic guest blog. She can be found at her website.

The Box Wine Sailors
The Box Wine Sailors

In The Box Wine Sailors, I liken life aboard a small sailboat to a game of “Bad News, Good News,” meaning that times were often trying, but the rewards more than legitimized the struggles. My partner Jimmie and I lived aboard Cotton, a 1972 Newport 27, for a year, sailing from Portland, Oregon, to La Paz, Baja California Sur, and we shared a fair amount of good and bad news along the way.

For instance, less than a month into our trip—a journey we embarked upon with no sailing experience (really!) and very little money ($6,700 in the bank), our tiller snapped off. This happened during a very stressful bar crossing into the Siuslaw River along the Oregon Coast (see below). That’s some pretty bad news.


Pic1(The remains of our tiller)


The good news was, as a crazy-in-love young couple, we were gleefully unemployed and thrilled to be spending all of our time together. Oh, and this was the view the next morning:

(Our anchorage in the Siuslaw River near Florence, Oregon)

We met another case of bad news when rounding Cape Mendocino: The waves got bigger than we ever expected—crashing over the sides of the boat and right into us—and there was that added bad news that we didn’t really know what we were doing.

(The author beginning to round Cape Mendocino…well before the worst of it)

The good news (as was often the case) was the stunning natural beauty of the anchorage that awaited us in Shelter Cove:

(At anchor in Shelter Cove, California, note how the mountains dwarf little Cotton)

When trying to explain this in the book, I write: “So much of what we did was a strange mix of magic and torture, as if performing the most inconvenient, trying tasks could somehow be infused with an indescribable wonder, even joy. Everyday events ranged from doing the hardest thing you’ve ever done ever to witnessing the most breathtaking sights imaginable. We were constantly filled with awe—both at what we had to do and how fully we were rewarded.”

It was exactly because of these challenges and benefits that our trip aboard Cotton—the voyage of The Box Wine Sailors—was so incredible, and why Jimmie and I (pictured below) were so grateful to have the other to share it with. I suppose it’s not quite like being there, but The Box Wine Sailors is my attempt to share those risks and rewards with the world.

(Amy McCullough and Jimmie Buchanan in Shelter Cove, Northern California)


One thought on “Guest Blog: Amy McCullough on the Risks and Rewards of Cruising Life

  1. Great book. Great description of the ports on the pacific west coast. Thanks for sharing.

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