Thursday, December 27, 2012

Interview with Charles Dougherty, Part 1 of 3

Where to find the book
My guest this week is Charles Dougherty, author and sailor. I found him an interesting interview. It turned out to be longer than expected, so I've divided it into three parts, to be posted Dec 28, Dec 30, and Jan 1. This one is mostly about life on his boat, but the next two are about his writing. Check back!


How did you decide to live on your boat?

Living on a boat was a dream from my childhood. I grew up around the water and some of my earliest memories are of watching boats come and go. I had been away from boats for several years when my wife and I got married. She had no exposure to boats before she met me, although she liked the outdoors. A few years after we were married, we bought a 30 foot sailboat on Lake Michigan, and she quickly got hooked on sailing. Once she began to talk about living aboard and cruising, my old dream became a possibility. One cold November weekend on the Chesapeake in 1988, she said, “You know, if we’re going to take off and do this full-time someday, maybe we should go ahead and get the boat for it. That’ll give us time to get it fixed up the way we want it and learn its quirks.” Two weeks later, we owned the boat that we still call home. It was our weekend and vacation getaway for 12 years before we were finally ready to cut our ties to the shore.

Do you miss having space to spread out?

No. That’s a reasonable question, but we find living in a small, well-organized space to be pleasant; everything we need and care about is close at hand. Since we sail in warm, pleasant places, we sit out on deck and enjoy the ever-changing scenery, so there’s no sense of being confined. We spent an extended period ashore this summer with my in-laws, who have a very large house with beautiful gardens outside. We felt more closed in there than aboard our boat, and as pretty as it was, the scenery didn’t change. We found ourselves yearning to return to the boat and the islands.

Do you have access to the Internet or do you have to go ashore?

When we’re actually at sea, we don’t have Internet access. We can send email via a ham radio system, but it’s very slow. We use it primarily for obtaining offshore weather forecasts and letting family know we’re all right. Most of the time when we’re in port, it’s possible to get Wifi access on the boat using a long-range Wifi adapter. In some places like St. Martin, where we are now, I’m able to get mobile high speed access on the boat for a reasonable price.

Is there an author you particularly admire or who has influenced/inspired you?

I’ve always been a voracious reader. I usually read a book a day, so that’s a tough question for me to answer. If I look back to my youth, I was a great fan of William Faulkner. Ernest Hemingway and T.E. Lawrence were also favorites of mine back then, and I’m sure there are influences from many others that have made their way into my writing.


Sailing blog about life afloat:

Books for Sailors and Dreamers (Non-fiction) :



Polly Iyer said...

I love that you're living your dream and you found the ideal partner to share it with. Considering how cluttered my house is at the moment--son returned after 14 yrs--there's something to be said for the neatness and organization you're talking about. Cheers to you and your wife, Charles.

Ellis Vidler said...

Charles, it sounds like a great life. How does this kind of life affect your writing time? More or less? I'm sure it's inspiring though, seeing all the different places. Your wife must be a great partner for all this.

I'll be back to learn more about your writing. Thanks for being here.

Charles Dougherty said...

Thanks, Polly. I'm not sure about the neatness part, but organization is an absolute requirement. Storage space is at a premium, so things get tucked away in little nooks. We try to keep a database, but we occasionally find something that we 'stored' years ago...

Charles Dougherty said...

Well, I don't know if it's a great life, but it suits us, Ellis. It certainly provides inspiration and background for my writing. I don't think it allows more or less time for writing than life ashore. While life on a boat may sound like endless days of beaches and umbrella drinks, boats are as maintenance intensive as houses and cars combined, and there's nobody around to do the work but the two of us, most of the time.

Thanks for having me here.