How far will I go to research a book?
I’ve been to London and the village of Roydon, which dates back to the 16th century. That was fun because I have a daughter living in London and stayed with her for three weeks. I even called Scotland Yard. They were very courteous and gave me all the information I needed. I have found that if you tell an agency or an authority that you are a writer, they will tell you almost anything.
But my most recent trip was much more exciting. My oldest son and his wife live on a 49 foot sailboat. Yes — no land house — only the floating one.
When he told me about it, I thought it might be good research for a book. So I made two trips, one to the American Virgin Islands and later to the Caribbean. I must say it was a magnificent sight, a beautiful blue sailboat with a sixty foot mast reaching into the sky.
I stood on the dock staring at the space between me and the boat. It was only about a foot, but I’m not good at jumping onto a rocking this vessel.
My son said, “Mom, there are four hurdles you have to master.”
I gave him a disarming look. He hadn’t mentioned anything about hurdles.
“First, take my hand and put one foot on the deck.” His wife held the dock line taut. Okay, here goes, I thought. I didn’t look down because I never would’ve made it.
“Ready?” He asked. With a heave, he pulled me onto the vessel. “Now just put your leg over onto the bench.”
With three artificial joints, I just about managed to accomplish this feat and get down into the boat proper. “Do I have to do this every time I get on and off?”
“Yeah,” he said. “But you’ll get used to it. Now for hurdle number three.”
I had no idea what that might be and wasn’t too keen on finding out.
“To get down into the hold, you must climb down the companionway.” This consisted of a vertical ladder built into the ship with six stairs and secure handholds on each side. I manage that without a hitch.
“One more,” he said as he led me into the aft bedroom. “There is a 3 inch riser that separates each compartment of the boat. Don’t trip.” At that point I didn’t care why there was a 3 inch riser I just wanted to be safe.
After five days of island hopping, snorkeling, swimming in the ocean and battling a storm, I had all the research I needed. I had a list of wind speeds and barometer readings and what constitutes a strong wind, a squall, a near gale, a gale, up to a hurricane.
I was happy to leave the Caribbean with its 100% humidity and temperatures hovering around the 90° mark most of the time. It did take me a few days when I got home to get my land legs back. I kept feeling as if I were still on the boat.
At present, my sailor son and his wife are in French Polynesia. I have enough research for two books and prefer to remain on dry land.