The Fat Guy’s Here


My beautiful ballerina turned out to be a nautical she-devil. 

“One thing about being at sea is that you don’t really get to stop. Until you arrive in port, you’re stuck, and conditions can always worsen, the boat can always break in new ways, whether you’re prepared or not. Even in port, you can slip anchor, blow against other anchored boats in crosswinds and currents, or run aground. A boat simply does not allow for genuine rest. Its essential nature is peril … ”

A Mile Down; The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea

David Vann

I didn’t read David Vann’s disturbing book when it was published in 2005. I should have. Because that was the year I lost my mind and took ownership of the sailing vessel Copy Cat.

Copy Cat is the last 23-foot New England cruising catboat built by Bill Menger—who would pass over the bar two years later. When I extended my open hand to accept the keys to the boat, I didn’t realize that I was signing up for every bit of the “enormous effort and expense” and the all-around torment described in Vann’s book.

It was so memorable an experience that I wrote my own book about it. It's called Fat Guy in a Fat Boat and the paperback is available now.

As a boy growing up in Perth Amboy, NJ, I fell in love with the graceful sailboats I watched dancing on the shimmering but sometimes polluted waters of Raritan Bay. But many years passed before I had the time and the wherewithal to buy my first sailboat—a traditional but tubby New England catboat that I sail off Cape Cod.

Fat Guy in a Fat Boat is a tale of trying to tame what I thought was a ballerina of a boat. It turned out to be a nautical she-devil. But in learning to sail, I also learned a few things about life.

Even though I usually sail with my heart in my throat over the prospect of doing something stupid and sending my pricey investment to the bottom of Buzzards Bay, I tried to keep my story hilarious—because it is.

It’s my belief, however, that a sailboat is as close as we humans can come to approximating the wondrous beauty of God’s creation.

When we raise sail, we conjoin forces of nature in creating an image of kinetic beauty that occupies a moment or two of time, like a shooting star or flashing lightning—glorious and troubling together.

Aboard a sailboat, the sailor is hard at work to keep sail and helm perfectly poised against the wind. Observers on the shore, as I was as a boy, aren’t aware of the effort. They only stare in admiration as the sailboat in the distance glides gracefully through the waves, yielding happily to the wind like an alluring woman to the embrace of her lover.

There is no other manmade structure that so summons us to contemplate its beauty.

You can buy a signed copy of Fat Guy in a Fat Boat by emailing 

Or order copies from Amazon:

Ebook versions will be available soon for Kindle, iBooks and Nook. 

And ... I will be signing copies of the book during the annual meeting of the Cat Boat Association in Mystic, CT, March 7.



Also available is my recent e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.


In my next blog, “Downton Abbey's C-Level Lessons”

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.