Interview with Cap’n Fatty
Interviewer: Why is the new book entitled CREATIVE ANCHORING? We think of anchoring as mechanical and boring. What’s creativity have to do with it?
Fatty Goodlander: Well, it dawned on me after 55 years of living aboard on my own anchors that I view anchoring in a completely different light than most cruisers. I don’t like marinas. I shun moorings. I much prefer lying to my own anchor and gear. But anchoring year-in and year-out without any damage is complicated. Thus, explaining the nitty-gritty, step-by-step details of this process took me one year, 365 pages, and lots of drawings.
Interviewer: How can our readers get a copy?
Fatty Goodlander: The cheapest and fastest way is through Amazon. The Kindle edition is only $9.99 and anyone with an internet connection can have it within minutes on his or her computer, Kindle, iPad, smart phone, or tablet. The dead tree book-book is 365 pages long, and has about 50 drawings and 50 photos. Usually it takes about 48 to 72 hours to arrive at any stateside door—faster if you have it FedEx’d.
Interviewer: But there is really nothing new about anchoring, is there?
Fatty Goodlander: There most certainly is! In the 1950s I grew up on the schooner Elizabeth with cotton sails, kerosene running lights, and hemp anchor rodes. Almost no yacht had an electric windlass. Very few had chain. No one carried chain trip hooks, snubbers, nor anchor swivels. Depth sounders were unheard of. The term tandem anchoring hadn’t even been invented—ditto Bahamian moor, etc. Nobody carried Paratech sea anchors nor Jordan Series drogues until recently. It’s a whole new world!
Interviewer: So you think anchoring is creative?
Fatty Goodlander: If you do it right, sure. The problem is anchoring seems so simple: you toss an anchor over, let out some rope, and you’re done! Only, you aren’t. Not really. In fact, you might not even be anchored at all.
Interviewer: What does the book focus on subject-wise? I wouldn’t think there’d be enough material…
Fatty Goodlander: My first draft was over 600 pages! This book contains every single thing I know, or would like to know, about the subject of anchoring. Sure, a lot of the focus is on staying-put. But we also take long looks at when & why & how to leave an anchorage. How do you best anchor in 250 feet of depth? How tandem anchoring differs from deploying two anchors. How do you fix your windlass or install a new one. Which is better: windlass foot switches or hand-held controlers? What should you do if your gear is down and your windlass packs up? Why carry flopper stoppers? When does hoisting sail lessen your chance of dragging? Why are anchor weights mostly evil and yet of great use? Why let out more scope? When is minimal scope best?
Interviewer: Well, you do seem excited.
Fatty Goodlander: “I yam what I yam,” as Popeye would say. And, yeah, I’m extremely passionate about anchoring. It’s a freedom issue and an economic issue and a quality of life issue. For me, anchoring is also an empowerment issue as well. I know it might sound crazy, but anchoring isn’t merely something I do, it’s intrinsic to who I am. My vessel isn’t a dock-queen or rock hugger. I average between 6,000 and 8,000 ocean miles a year. I like to sail, I really like to sail. I have little use for dirt dwellers. I don’t want to be B&D’d to a dock! I want to pivot into the wind. I want a moat around me to keep the greed heads at bay. I seek freedom—not shore regimentation. Screw the land sharks. Anchors forever!
Interviewer: So the book is solely focused on anchoring?
Fatty Goodlander: Yes and no. Anchoring is a big subject. Staying put is only one part. Boats can be maneuvered via warping and kedging. Anchors can be used in docking, for instance. And there’s many practical tricks and cheats to sailing on and off the hook and the mooring and the dock—which involve anchors. We recently saved almost $2,000 by being able to anchor in 150 feet of water for a couple of months. Plus, I’ve tossed in heaving-to as well—and how to say “no.”
Interviewer: How to say “no?”
Fatty Goodlander: Yeah. Increasingly, people around the world ask us for money. When we first started circumnavigating, these people were few and far between—and asking for a dollar or two. Now there’s dozens of them in every port and they are asking for hundreds of dollars. We just say no. And we anchor out. We not only save money in marina fees, the land sharks tend to take the long-hanging fruit. Instead of chasing us for their trumped-up fees, they direct their efforts on the poor sap at the dock. And, yeah, saying “no” is kinda fun. When a corrupt official in Panama demanded we pay $100 dollar each for ‘an exit visa,’ we just laughed and did a Nancy Reagan… we just said “No!” He seemed a little shocked, true, but he accepted it. He knew he was asking for a bribe. He knew we knew that shining a light on the situation would not be in his best economic interest. We just left. And he charged the cruising couple just behind us in line $200. And they paid it. Because they didn’t know how to say “no.” My wife, Carolyn, is master of “no.” She says stuff like, “Our owners don’t allow us to pay such fees,” and/or “Without a receipt, our shipboard software can’t input such bribe requests. Sorry! Maybe the new beta version will be better…”
Interviewer: Only you would think of saying “no” as a part of anchoring, Fatty.
Fatty Goodlander: Thanks.
Interviewer: How many books have you written so far?
Fatty Goodlander: Quite a few. I think I have about ten in print at the moment. Chasing the Horizon is my most beloved. Red Sea Run is the scariest. BUY, OUTFIT, & SAIL is my best seller. I hope all my books are fun reads—but each stresses safety offshore as well. I’m a big believer in safety because you can’t laugh or make love if you’re dead. Life is for the living—and it is great to alive! And for me, writing and living and sailing and laughing are all one-and-the-same. Recently, I received a fan letter which indicated I had talent, but I think what I have mostly is enthusiasm. I have a real lust for living. I kiss life full on the lips every day. I sing out. I dance. Luckily, I spent my childhood undersail and was only forced ashore a few years to attend school. So nobody told me I couldn’t write or that writing was supposed to be boring.
Interviewer: But your latest, Creative Anchoring, isn’t funny, right? I mean, it’s a serious book, right?
Fatty Goodlander: I’m not sure I know what serious means. If you’re a cruising sailor there will come a time when your vessel and your life will depend on your anchor gear. So, yeah, my book is serious in the sense it addresses those very serious, very complicated issues. But there’s no reason why not to laugh your ass off while surviving a major blow. I’d like to think sections of my anchoring book are funny. Hell, I’d like to think sections of it are erotic. I mean, anchors & boats & romance are the perfect ménage à trois.
Interviewer: Do you really make a living from your writing?
Fatty Goodlander: Yes. I usually write four hours a day, five days a week, usually from 8 to noon. I’m on retainer for 40 magazine articles a year, plus I publish at least one book a year. I’ve also written seven novels, all which have a common theme.
Interviewer: …and the common theme is?
Fatty Goodlander: They suck. If I ever write a novel worth publishing, I will certainly do so. Until then, I’ll just cry onto my fictional keyboard and shove aside my thoughts of suicide.
Interviewer: Is there anything you’re serious about?
Fatty Goodlander: Not really. My mother is blind and I write stories about stealing from her purse. I regularly abuse my wife and child in print. If I believed in God, I’d write bathroom jokes about Him. I think all forms of seriousness are seriously overrated.
Interviewer: Do you currently have a goal?
Fatty Goodlander: Yes, and it’s the same goal I had when I sailed away from my family at 15 years of age aboard double-ender Corina: to be the freest man in the universe.
Interviewer: How is that going?
Fatty Goodlander: Fairly well. And I’ll be doing even better when this interview ends.
Interviewer: Oophs! One more question: Do you have a philosophy of life?
Fatty Goodlander: Yeah. I believe that I am in charge of my life—and what happens to me isn’t nearly as important as how I deal with it. I can usually choose what kind of a day I have. I (mostly) pass on miserable days when I focus on injustice, intestinal gas, or arthritis. Instead I pick days filled with sailing, laughter, love and lust. Hey, it works for me!”
All books by Fatty are available at Amazon.com in both Print and Kindle editions. The Cruising World website has numerous of his sea stories online. Ditto AllAtSea.net.
Brief Bio of Cap’n Fatty Goodlander
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander is a 63-year-old writer who has lived aboard various sailboats for 55 years, 45 with his wife, Carolyn. He is currently an editor-at-large of Cruising World magazine. At the moment, he and Carolyn are cruising Southeast Asia while finishing up their third circumnavigation.
They have no idea how many ocean miles they’ve sailed together, and joke, “It’s hard enough to keep track of the circs!”
His entire income drips out of his pen—and has for many decades now. He’s on retainer for 40 magazine articles a year. He averages about a book every 18 months. He also occasionally freelances as a broadcaster, and has had dozens of marine-related segments on NPR Radio and WVWI Radio One. While he occasionally teaches, makes speeches, or gives seminars ashore—he much prefers staying aboard to focus on his writing and cruising.
“I’m totally off the grid and making a good living with my pen,” he says. “People want to know how to do this—and are always attempting to lure me back to States by waving fistfuls of dollars. I demonstrate exactly how to do this by turning down almost all their offers.”
“Life’s too short,” he continues. “I ask myself during every major decision: will this make me more or less free? If the answer is less, I skip it.”
Fatty grew up aboard the 52-foot John G. Aden designed schooner Elizabeth. At eight, he salvaged and rebuilt a holed derelict dinghy—under his father’s watchful eye. At 15 years-of-age, he purchased his Atkins double ender Corina for $200—and sailed away from Babylon forever.
“I was too young to drive a car—and yet pulling into all the trendy seaports aboard my own yacht in search of loose women. What fun! That first 1968 summer of having my own tiller in my hand changed me forever. I decided never to return to reality—and I haven’t.”
He seldom attended school ashore—completing three years of grammar school and two years of high school—during which he managed to fail both English and gym. When he unexpectedly needed to transport a bunch of marine stuff during a refit—he briefly became a taxi driver, and, yeah, picked up passengers if they didn’t mind sitting on the piles of boat bits. That was about as serious as he ever became about any shore job.
“I’ve found it’s best not to get mixed up with the dirt dwellers ashore,” he says. “An unprepared sailor can get trampled in the consumerism.”
At 19, he and Carolyn took the money from selling Corina to build a 36-foot Peter Ibold-designed Endurance ketch that he named Carlotta—which they raised their daughter, Roma Orion, aboard along the way.
Twice he has had to dog-paddle away from floundering vessels in 100+ knots of wind—once with his 7- year-old daughter in his arms.
He and his wife circumnavigated twice about a salvaged $3,000 Hughes 38, which Fatty describes as “a modest boat with much to be modest about.”
They currently live aboard an Amphitrite 43 ketch built by Wauquiez of France—and often have their 4-year-old grandchild, Sokù Orion, aboard in Thailand, Bali, or somewhere in between.
Fatty plays guitar, sort of, and regularly pens “naughty” adult sea shanties that have gotten him thrown out of many waterfront grog shops.
His most beloved book is Chasing the Horizon. His best seller is How to Inexpensively and Safely Buy, Outfit, and Sail a Small Vessel Around the World (aka Buy, Outfit, & Sail). His most recent book is Creative Anchoring.
“I have no idea,” says Fatty. “I write what I’m passionate about. I might not have any talent to speak of, but I’ve got great enthusiasm—maybe the same thing.”
Has he learned anything?
“Perhaps,” he said. “I think there are three kinds of people in this world—people who can count, and people who can’t.”
All books by Fatty are available at Amazon.com in both Print and Kindle editions. The Cruising World website has numerous of his stories. Ditto AllAtSea.net. For more craziness, see fattygoodlander.com
This entire web page (except where noted) is copyrighted by Cap'n Fatty Goodlande