Interview with Cap’n Fatty about his latest book Buy, Outfit, and Sail
Question: Why did you write your latest book?
Fatty Goodlander: I’ve always shied away from writing how-to for a number of reasons—the primary one being that I don’t really know how-to do much! I think of myself as a storyteller and humorist. Frankly, I’m not overly fond of facts, figures, and technical drawings. I find them a tad boring. But I was reading a modern marine magazine article, written by a well-know marine writer, that was called Managing Your Haul Out. It was about overseeing the payment of $72,000 to have shipyard workers swarm your gold-plater. Huh? I don’t have a fancy yacht nor do I have that kind of money. So, the article was completely useless to me. So I thought to myself: how come nobody is writing how-to articles for guys like me? For people like my friends? For the vast majority… call them the 99% if you want… of rice-and-beans cruising people out there?
Question: Where is it available?
Fatty Goodlander: Most of our books are sold through Amazon.com, and the remainder through book stores which specialize in marine books. We have a few in chandleries as well. I’ve recently been selling a lot of books in Europe through Amazon UK. Of course, we have a Kindle edition that is far cheaper and lighter than our 230 page print version. The official title is BUY, OUTFIT, and SAIL but the full title is “How to Inexpensively and Safely BUY, OUTFIT, and SAIL a Small Vessel Around the World.” There is a revolution going on in the publishing world—yippee for the poor, struggling writer! The best part—anyone with a computer or iPad can download a free Kindle reader and buy one of my books within 60 seconds. Wow!
Question: Is your book anti-money?
Fatty Goodlander: No, it is not. Well—okay, I do use the F-word and the M-word a couple of times in the same sentence. However, I’m not against spending money. I spend nearly all the money I earn on my boat and its use. But most of us can’t afford to buy a new Hallberg Rassy 48 to circumnavigate aboard—and pay for expensive refits in New Zealand, Thailand, and Cape Town. It just isn’t realistic for sea gypsies like me to dream of owning a million dollar yacht. But I can easily buy a damaged $3,000 vessel, have fun fixing it up and outfitting it, and then sail it more miles and have more orgasms per ocean mile than the wealthy Hallberg Rassy owner ever dreamed off. That’s realistic. That’s do-able. Hell, I’ve done it. Repeatedly!
Question: Is your book aimed at the green horn or the experienced circumnavigator?
Fatty Goodlander: The book is divided into three main sections: buying the boat cheap, fixing up and outfitting the boat cheap, and sailing it around the world cheap. I’d like to think it offers good value to all cruising sailors. Lots of people tell me I’m not supposed to use the word cheap—that I should sugar-coat it as ‘affordable’ or ‘inexpensive’ or even ‘budget.’ But I’m not ashamed of the word cheap. Earning money isn’t my life-priority—living a rich, full, sensuous life is. So I’m a bit more careful with my pennies than most sailors because I’m going to have ten times the fun on less than a quarter of their income. This takes some thought and some effort, true, but it can be a very enjoyable pursuit as well. I’ve always thought that ‘pleasure boating’ should be just that—for rich and poor alike.
Question: Aren’t you encouraging people to go to sea who should not?
Fatty Goodlander: No, I am not. There’s no price tag on Mother Ocean. She had no idea how much is in your bank account, nor does she care. All the money in the world won’t help you in a severe gale. And the word ‘safely’ is in the very title of my book. The whole thrust of my manuscript is that a modest boat that is well-sailed and correctly outfitted can be much, much more seaworthy than her fancy cousin costing ten times as much. There’s a gleaming 77 foot Windabago (heavy, fat, high-freeboard, flying-bridged, huge-doored) catamaran currently anchored off my port side and a funky Westsail 32 anchored to my starboard—I know which one I’d prefer to be hove-to aboard!
Question: What’s your pet peeve?
Fatty Goodlander: People who confuse insurance and safety. Recently I had a wealthy guy on a huge multi-million dollar blurt out that he thought I was ‘completely negligent’ for not having full insurance coverage. I swallowed my anger, and calmly questioned him. His goofy ‘layer cake’ boat was new and untried. He had little sailing experience. He didn’t even know how to heave-to—and didn’t understand why he should. Yes, he had two electric bilge pumps—but he wasn’t sure if he had a manual pump aboard or if the float switch was on the same or different circuit breaker than his pump. He had two anchors, only one of which was set-up for immediate use. He had no storm jib, no gale rider, no Paratech sea anchor, no Jordon Series Drogue—and he certainly didn’t have a storm trysail permanently hanked to his mainmast. No, he didn’t keep a DR position in his log, carry a sextant, or know how to use an old-fashioned RDF. Instead, he relied solely on his GPS plotter and his electronic charts… which type and where/how they were stowed he wasn’t quite sure. And this was the guy telling me I was unprepared for offshore!
Question: What should the newbie avoid?
Fatty Goodlander: They should avoid thinking that they have to have all this ‘marine garbage’ being marketed. Does having hot water heater make your boat safer? A color radar? Is a bow-thruster really important on a 32 footer? Is a chart plotter which draws 5 amps and costs 5 grand mandatory on a J/24? What do you really need that Josh Slocum didn’t have? Not much! By not buying a popular ‘must-have’ water maker you can save $7,800 on the unit, $2,000 on the installation (if you don’t do your own work), $1,200 on unexpected accessories (yes, you’ll need that additional pre-filter pump), $1,000 on various replaceable filters, $600 on a spare electric pump motor which needs to be replaced once a year or so, a 100 pounds in weight, and many cubic feet in space. I mean, that’s a lot of crap to carry aboard a small boat. And that first glass of water costs you, like, over $13,000! Carolyn and I can, and do, cruise for a year on that amount. And we often meet great local people while having ‘big fun’ with our water jugs—locals who befriend us and invite us into their homes and hearts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money wandering the world. We don’t. And we just bumped into a delightfully frugal young cruising couple who spent only $1000 while sailing for six months in the Canaries.
Question: How much money do you need to circumnavigate?
Fatty Goodlander: As much as you can get! Seriously, the boat has to be seaworthy—that’s the bottom line. Kevin Rowlette was cruising the Caribbean on the Beneteau 42 Fast Buck—which cost only that—but he spent the time and money to rebuild it into a seaworthy safe. My point is that the lack of money can’t be used as an excuse for going to sea in an unseaworthy boat. But once you’ve got a good stout boat—it doesn’t take much money to sail around the world. It takes lots of effort, sure, but that’s the fun part! We used to go cruising on a hundred dollars a week in the 1970s but we now spend between $250 and $400 a week. But I don’t like the ‘save-up and spend-out.’ I prefer to earn as I go. Thus, I avoid the stress of watching my money evaporate. We left on our second circumnavigation with $4,000 in cash, had a fine time for seven years, and returned with $39,000 in the bank—not too shabby, eh?
Question: Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
Fatty Goodlander: My latest is always my favorite. I had a blast writing this book. I really did. I squirmed in my seat—always a good sign. Parts of it are quite funny. And, trust me, there are sections of it which are… well, unlike any other book published ever! I’m 59 and have lived aboard and cruised offshore for 52 of those years. I’ve almost never worked ashore. I’ve learned a thing or two about squeezing a penny. So I really got a chuckle out of this book—just telling the honest, outrageious truth as I see it, and not caring what the hell the PC landlubbers think! But I also really love my book Chasing the Horizon. It was well received when I wrote it 22 years ago—in fact, it convinced me to shift my writing focus from magazines to books. And it has sold better every single year since. And, best of all, I’m happy to report that it is now selling more per month than it did per year initially—which is great. I still laugh aloud when I read it… it’s totally crazy that any sailor could write stuff like that and not get immediately arrested by the thought police for having ‘too much fun!’
Question: What are your plans?
Fatty Goodlander: Carolyn and I really want to sail around the world at least one more time… or more! We also want to spend more time with our daughter Roma Orion and our granddaughter Soku. We miss Southeast Asia. Micronesia is a gas. Chagos is close to heaven. Madagascar is utter magic! Most of all, we love the lovely, lonely landless atolls such as Minerva and Beveridge reef. Why, the whole world is, literally, our oyster. We’re ‘home’ anywhere there’s salt water. Also, on a practical note, I’d like to buy our final retirement vessel now, when I’m 59 and still capable of wielding a grinder and an axe—rather than attempting to do major fiberglass work in my 70s. And, of course, I want to continue writing. And guitar play. Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget the wild sex! Seriously, I love my wife, our humble boat, the goofy projects we collaborate on, and the crazy, silly lives we spend within each other’s arms. Every morning I roll out of bed and smile. Once I dreamed this life, now I lead it.
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