MOTORING, NOT MOTORING, MOTORING … ALMOST HOME

Current Time: 1:30AM

Current Position: North 36 degrees, 43 minutes West 67 degrees, 11 minutes

Hi, Everyone.

A high overcast layer is covering the moonlight tonight. We are motoring through a no-wind area, something we had to do earlier today, but only for a short time. Now we may have to motor all night; this seems to be a wide, calm area we’re going through.

It was a very busy day for Horizon’s sailors. Variable conditions, from no wind to plenty, from smooth seas to choppy, dry to wet, sunny to dark, conditions changing every 20 or 30 minutes. When I first got up from my post-watch sleep, Philip had just dealt with one of those “switch” winds, usually associated with a squall, where one minute the wind is on one side of the boat, and the next it is coming from the exact opposite direction. You change everything to match it, and it all switches over. He then took his daytime snooze (we each sleep a long period at night, and a short period during the day, to add up to a “full night’s sleep”).

While he was sleeping, I was in the cockpit full time, adjusting sails for the changing conditions, including taking a reef out of the main to try to get as much power as possible in the light winds. At one point, we were making zero knots, and as much as I tried to see if I could make use of any breeze – although there didn’t seem to be any – it was obvious, as it was for Philip tonight, that it was time to turn on the engine. Fortunately I only had to go a short way before I hit sailable breeze, and we were able to shut the engine down and preserve fuel.

We are making our way to a setpoint Philip has calculated, just at the bottom edge of the Gulf Stream. He’s picked a section for us to cross that is a relatively narrow section and northward-flowing, which will work in our favor. As of dinnertime, we were only 399 miles from home, a mere pittance when compared to a total journey of 8,000 miles. Philip was estimating reaching Newport by Friday evening, but until we get closer, it’s impossible to know for sure.

I gave Philip chapter two of the business book for editing this afternoon. He thought it was “very good.” On the editor scale, this is not faint praise. I made sure it was as polished as I could get it before giving it to him, but it’s also the result of an absolute confidence in my subject matter, and a solid outline in a particular format that makes it fairly easy for me to “write to the outline.” While I wanted to get more done on that book – and we all know why I didn’t – I know I can keep writing after we hit land, and get this book to the next stage.

I think this is a good time to more formally address the “you’ve got a book here with your Horizon Updates” comment, which is fairly universal amongst you all. Thank you for saying it. It warms this writer’s heart. But, as I learned with my first book, writing it – as difficult as it can be, with endless editing and even more endless, mind-numbing proofing – is the easy part. Getting a book produced is also not that difficult, although it helps that we spent years producing printed pieces for clients. The hard part is pushing the book out into the marketplace. You have no idea.

The book industry is very crowded and competitive, with a well-established distribution network that must be convinced before it will take on anything new. You must really “hit the campaign trail,” so to speak, to get the book to rise above the noise level and out to the people who would benefit from reading it. Fortunately, you can do that virtually now, with webinars (web-based seminars) and telephone interviews. Because I have been through this already, I know what I must do, so I will be able to integrate it into my normal working schedule, and make it work.

I want this book to get healthy readership. Not because I need a best-seller before I die, but because this particular book will help entrepreneurs go from frustrating, blind-guessing marketing – where they can use up all their life’s savings and still not be successful – to a completely new way of thinking about marketing and selling – one that works by getting insights from the very people you’ve already sold to. That’s the thing I must accomplish before I die – getting that method out there where entrepreneurs can take advantage of it.

You see, I love entrepreneurs. If you go to http://www.revenuejournal.com, you’ll see what I mean. Last week’s article – “Main Street Rising” – sums it up pretty well. If you think it’s a big adventure to do what we’re doing on Horizon, just try starting your own business. I know many of you have, or have a family member who’s doing it, so you understand. It is one of the most exciting, enriching, and challenging things you can do, and is very satisfying if you manage to make more than you spend, so you can stay in business.

To me, business is about helping people. You see a need and go about filling it. You make sure people know what you’ve created, and how it can help them. They are happy to pay you, because you’ve solved a problem for them. You use the money to provide for your family and grow your business, so you can get your solution out to more people.

You help them, they help you. There’s a purity about it that has always appealed to me, because both the seller and the buyer benefit – as long as the seller is honest about what he’s selling.

Speaking of which, I’ll let you in on a little insider’s secret about the book business. There is a way to market a book that has become quite common, a way that I refuse to participate in. What you do is get the book ready to launch, then, on a given day, say June 10, you blast a message out to as many people as you can, usually using email marketing. The message says, “Buy this book on June 15, and I will give you all these other goodies – hundreds of dollars worth of content – for free. Make sure you buy it from Amazon.” On that day, those people buy the book, from Amazon, and tell the author, and the author sends them all the free stuff (usually content from other authors, supplements to the book, etc.). For one day, that book is one of the “best-sellers” on Amazon. Seems to me – I’d have to check this, but I’m pretty sure – that the New York Times’ best-seller list comes from Amazon data. So, guess what. Now the book’s authors and promoters can say, “New York Times’ Best Seller” when promoting the book. Or, even more specifically, “#1 New York Times Best Seller.” Yeah, true. But only for about 3 seconds on June 15.

There are people who go around giving seminars on this method. I don’t know about you, but it feels like a scam to me. I will not promote my books this way. I suppose you could say, “What’s the harm?” And, yes, no one is actually “hurt” by thinking that the book is a best-seller when it’s really not a best-seller. But that purity I talked about earlier means that nobody lets anyone be stupid. It either IS a best-seller or it’s NOT a best-seller. The author and the promoter don’t say, “New York Times Best Seller for One Day – the day that a bunch of people we bribed with free stuff bought the book on Amazon.” They are letting the buyer be stupid, and benefiting from it. Nothing “pure” about that.

Horizon is definitely a “dream come true” for us. Two weeks after Philip and I fell in love, I asked him to go sailing around the world with me – and remember, I had not been sailing before. Philip and I laughed about that the other day; when we remembered I had done that. “Dog catches car,” he said, which is shorthand for “be careful what you go after, you might just get it,” or, “you have no idea what you were getting into.” One of the reasons Horizon is a dream come true is I can keep working while we sail this boat. I’ve just spent two months on this boat, sitting in this pilothouse, on watch, doing work for clients, writing these Updates, turning out an article for the Revenue Journal (roughly) every week, and writing the intro and two book chapters for the “Roadmap to Revenue” book. It was as easy as working at my office in Jamestown. Easier, really, because there are fewer distractions. Yes, I get up every ten minutes or so and check the horizon and the boat, and you do have to make adjustments – some more days than others. But even that is helpful. Gives you a little perspective and gets the blood flowing. When I work at home, I can get stiff from a long writing session.

Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to tell you gals, if you want to lose some weight and gain muscle at the expense of fat, go sailing for two months. I am more trim right now than I have been in years. I even got my biceps back, which I haven’t seen since my windsurfing days. It’s mostly from cranking on the winches. But being on board is a physically active experience. Just walking around as the boat is pitching requires muscles you don’t normally use, and when things are active in the cockpit, it’s quite physical. I’m also eating less, especially snacks. I completely lost my appetite for them. Even dark chocolate, which I usually crave, has no appeal. Every day, I have one small snack at night on watch, cereal in the morning, and then dinner in the late afternoon. That’s it. I feel great.

We have had some rain, and it’s raining lightly now, but the Sahara Dust is still with us. Matthew says it is especially bothersome because it is so fine it permeates the little nooks and crannies, such as the creases in the twisted wire used to create the lifelines (the thin wire “railing” around the boat) and the shrouds (the fat wires leading from the mast to the edges of the deck). Once the dust gets in those creases, it absorbs salt water. The water evaporates and leaves the salt. Salt leads to rust. Sigh. Horizon is going to get a major cleaning job when we get home. It’s not easy to do while underway, especially in the hot tropical sun. The metal gets so hot that whatever you’re using to clean it gets baked on as you are applying it. I’ll have to focus on it when we get home.

When we do get to our mooring, it’s going to be a busy time. We will have to empty the things we’ve been storing in the inflatable dinghy, lower it overboard, and load it up with items to take to shore. We will be cleaning the food out of the freezer and fridge, for example, so we can shut them down. I still have about half of the meat I bought, so we will be eating Cape Town meat for weeks to come.

We will take the inflatable to the beach – well, almost to the beach. Our beach surface is covered with small rocks, so we won’t be beaching the inflatable. We’ll hold it just offshore and walk the items on to the beach. Then Philip will take the inflatable back to Horizon, and I will row out our beach dinghy and he will row us – and probably some more stuff – back to the beach. The beach dinghy is a wooden pram (a pram is a boat with a flat bow) that we keep on the beach, stored upside down.

First you unlock it (Philip buried a concrete block with a chain on it, underneath the dinghy), then you lift up the bow and get yourself situated so your shoulders are lifting one of the athwartships (crossways) seats. Then you hoist it, balancing the 80 pounds of dinghy on your shoulders – turtle-shell style. Then you walk it down to the water’s edge, about 30 to 50 feet away, depending on the state of the tide. Then, you gently lower the stern, get out from underneath, flip the boat over into the water, put the oars in, point the boat in the right direction, and push off as you get in. This particular dinghy, one that we bought, doesn’t row well in the waves; they hit the bow and the boat stops cold. No momentum. Philip has built a new pram, which is in his workshop waiting for paint and other finishing touches. He designed it and built it out of very thin plywood, so it is quite light. It’s also a pram, but the flat bow is smaller and higher. The waves will slip underneath instead of stopping the boat’s motion.

It will be wonderful to see Horizon on our mooring, after working on making this boat a reality for the past 2+ years. We’ll have a small anchor light on her, a little white light inside a salt shaker, that shines at night. When you walk around the house, you glance out toward the water, and see that little light shining in the darkness. You know that the boat is still secure on her mooring. When the weather is particularly nasty – we can have winds up to 50 knots after a storm – that little light is quite comforting.

Back to the present…Horizon is speeding up just slightly, which means there’s a little wind affecting the mainsail, which is still up. The jib is rolled up. Our speed has only increased about three-quarters of a knot, so while I’m checking out in the cockpit every few minutes, I’m not shutting down the engines just yet. We also have a nasty cross swell, one of this boat’s least favorite things, making the lines and the blocks complain as the swell lifts each hull in succession, over and over again, and the boom swings in rhythm. It also slows the boat down.

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