Say Goodbye To Fish Sticks?

Now they’re saying there’s not enough cod for fish sticks. Here’s a link to Tim McDonnell’s article on the New England’s cod fishery. You better pour some coffee first. Or something stronger.

Interested in books for the beach? check out some of Linda Greenlaw’s books Hungry Ocean, Lobster Chronicles, and Seaworthy. (You might remember her as the female sword fisherman portrayed in the movie The Perfect Storm.) She knows the industry and has a great writing voice to boot.

As for the fish skeleton wind vane photo, I hope it inspires a change in direction.

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill


My Che Guevara Poem

[Note: Che Guevara’s hands were severed from his body following his execution in 1969.
At this writing, their whereabouts remain unknown.]



The Hands Of Che     

Show us the hands of Che

separate from the body

because the face lies.


Make the beret go away

with its stupid star. Let the

faithful poor stay hopeful

loving the notion but loathing

the man.


Show us Che’s palms, up,

as in their promises of love,

and bread. Then show them

turn down, dropping the grains

to take up the gun.


Show them touching the mirror’s

mouth —Che’s lips curled into

the smile of war. Look closely:

How the vain executioner has

the eyes of a violent mind.


Yes, children of the hungry sun,

be angry and, yes, “Be Like Che”

the idea of Che, the compassion.

But see through the mask of

Ernesto that was placed there by

his hands.

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Hammock Man w/Optimum Sailboat book

Another of my newly found “Hammock Man” You Tube videos. I was recovering from an injury and had nothing better to do. In this one I have a copy of my Optimum Sailboat book. Another for you to add to your great books for the beach and great books for the boat collections.
— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill


Book Review: Time Bandit

I just got out of the hammock having finished Time Bandit, the memoir of brothers Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand whose fishing vessel of the same name has taken them out into the Bering Sea and back—where they brave ice floes and heaving 60-foot waves, gusting winds of 80 miles per hour, unwieldy and unpredictable half-ton steel crab traps, and an injury rate of almost 100-percent in search of “the deadliest catch”: Alaskan king crabs and opilio crabs.

Add this one to your books for the beach and books for the boat shopping list.

What makes Time Bandit especially fun is that these two guys were waaaaaaaay crazy long before they came to own that famous boat of theirs. As young boys they went camping—sleeping by the shore eating crows (which, for all I know, may be the tastiest thing in the world, I’ve never tried it)—while at their feet were a type of mussel deemed tastiest in the world (but they didn’t know, having never tried it).

There were sword fights using garbage can lids for shields. Attempts to jump motorcycles over way to much –resulting in so many trips to the hospital for stitches that the doctor told their mother she’d save a lot of money learning how to do stitches herself.

I think my favorite story was from their childhood was the time a friend decided to become an astronaut by climbing into a metal garbage can while the two brothers lit the odd collection of combustible fluids and explosives underneath.

And not much changed as they got older. When not taking on near death experiences at sea, they faced them on land as well: lots of great bar brawls in this book including the time one of Jonathan’s uber hot girlfriends got her faced slammed into the bar by a biker, resulting in the biker being given a three-day coma by Jonathan.

Next time I’m fishing at the Jonesville Reservoir I’ll take along my copy of Time Bandit.

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Book Review: Wind From The Carolinas

Another book review for my books for the beach and books for the boat recommendations…

Robert Wilder’s Wind from the Carolinas is one of my favorite books for the beach or boat. It’s one of Jimmy Buffet’s favorite books too. I read every other year or so and have several copies including one that lapped me around the pool a few times.

If you like historical fiction you’ll like this story of an aristocratic South Carolina family relocating to the Bahama Islands after ending up on the wrong side of the Revolutionary War. They went “lock, stock and barrel”–even dismantling their big plantation house brick-by-brick and shipping it out as ballast.

The plot unfolds with a fulfilling description of early life in the Caribbean then follows changes to island life through several generations.

There’s a love story in there too.

Bring a copy of Wind from the Carolinas along next time you’re under sail or heading to the coast.

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill


Books for the boat. Books for the beach.

I’m a book hound. Books fit my life the way sailing, sunning, beaches, hammocks and machine guns do.

After moving to the boonies and getting more or less settled at Pineapple Hill, I’ve been on a “books for the boat, books for the beach” book buying binge. By that I mean grabbing up five, sometimes ten, at a time. They’ve become a sort of security blanket “wooby.” During times when I can’t escape to a boat or beach, I escape to a book.

Listening to some buds explain their SHTF plan, it occurred to me that a good book will be worth its weight in gold in the event the world goes off the grid –shutting down the Internet, television, DVD players and so much else. People will want information and will want to be entertained.

Your bug out kit –whether going to the boat or the back roads– should include a private library. A few titles or a big stash. Loan em. Trade em. Sell ’em.

And, in the meantime, enjoy ’em on your pool lounger.

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill




Book Review: Submerged

Three decades ago, I went diving alone, a big No-No, to check my gear and clear my head. There was a yellow school bus in the lake that had been stripped of its benches and windows: a fun place to hang out. The roof was right at 30-feet or so. I could lay there on my back—tank removed and resting, valve down, beside me—and watch my bubbles rise. I could focus on my breathing and, based on the sound, the only sound down there, make adjustments for Yoga-like meditation.


That day, a bright red Autumn leaf floated on the surface and, high up from there, three big fluffy white clouds seemed hung like pictures on a bright blue sky.

The water and air were so crisp and still… then a small bass swam over and, next to it (but high up, of course), I noticed the thin chalk line of  a jet (on its way …to where?).

A few years later an injury sidelined my scuba diving hobby. I advertised the tank and regulator for sale, but kept the fins, mask and snorkel for “sightseeing” and occasional trips down at the dock to clean the hull of my sailboat or retrieve a lost tool.

# # #

My limited diving experience provided a “sights and sounds” background to Daniel Lenihan’s Submerged –the only book about underwater archeology that’s ever made me catch myself holding my hold my breath. A great book for the beach or book for the boat.

Subtitled Adventures of America’s Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team, it tells the true story of his career and exploits developing a new program and resource within the National Park Service: a thoughtful/scientific approach to surveying, preserving and sharing sunken assets while, when needed, also recovering bodies from very dangerous hard to reach places.

The emotional insights related to risk and death are as captivating as the adventures going deep and dark.

In addition to navigating creepy death traps including caves, wrecks and the rooms of a sunken power turbine, Lenihan and his people must successfully navigate the “Chutes and Ladders”-like matrix of governmental policy, funding and politics. The accounting of what all happens behind the scenes gives you a real appreciation for what they were able to achieve –with their lives literally “on the line” the whole way.

This is a keeper for the beach, boat or hammock. Not just for divers but also for riders of pool floats in blue rubber pools. Bring a flashlight and some spare air.

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— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill






Book Review: Looking For A Ship

Enjoyed John McPhee’s notes about career shadowing a merchant marine. Thought I’d tell you about it while waiting for the guy to come check on the family of bats that wintering in the Pineapple Hill attic this year…

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Back in my Jacksonville Beach days a buddy of mine spent a lot at the JAXPORT ship terminal inspecting oil shipments. He’d go out on arriving tankers (at whatever hour they came in from sea, often in dead zone of darkness between 1 and 3 am) to verify that the deliveries were as promised. Often I’d go with him. He’d pick up the tab at the shabby beer joints where we waited for the call to go aboard. I was right out of college and living the life of a beach bum. My schedule was pretty flexible. And it was cool to see the secret life of professionals in the shipping business. My friend’s girlfriend, it happened also, was a Merchant Marine. So I learned a bit about it from her as well. But she was usually away –out at sea for a hundred and more nights at a time, staring at the moon over the Black Sea.

The whole deal seemed so cool and the only thing that stopped me from going that route was the ink –still wet– on my Journalism degree. I thought I owed to my dad (and the student loan company) to deploy that thing somehow.

Just as soon as I was done hanging out on the beach…

# # #

McPhee’s book follows the highs and lows of his friend Andy whose wallet contained a National Shipping Card, the Merchant Marine’s ticket to going to sea.

No card, no job.

They don’t just give you the cards, you have to train for them then pass a bunch of tests. (I’d already decided I was done with tests for a while, except for testing the SPF rating on my sunscreen, and testing the local surf bunnies on their tolerance for alcohol.)

As Mcphee explains: the older the National Shipping Card, the better the prospects for a job. But if the card the goes unused for twelve months, the holder is bumped down in seniority. Back to the end of the line. The book was not just a narrative, it was a drama singing the woes of too much supply (cardholders) and too little demand (job openings).

The once big and mighty U.S. Merchant Marines had fallen on hard times. Again, too much supply (too many companies operating under foreign flags –enabling them to pay at near minimum wage levels). These flag-of-convenience ships, McPhee notes, are essentially unregulated, leading toward “compromised safety and the lowest practical levels of operation and maintenance. Dragging others down with them…”

Consequently, the big bucks Andy made at sea (or, when he could, in between jobs, getting gigs guarding ships dockside) had to also cover the long stretches in between.

Andy and his brothers in the MM would go into the union halls every morning and wait for assignments to be called out. Often there were none, or just one, for the 15 – 30 people hopefully reporting in. While there, they’d listen for any stirring rumors of other ships heading out from other ports –then quietly try to beat each other there. Andy would go down to Jacksonville from Maine. Then up to Savannah from Jacksonville. Then back to Maine. While the clock was ticking against the expiration date of that card of his.

That aspect of the business was every bit as interesting to me as when Andy finally landed something. It’s a much more quirky line of work than I’d imagined. (Probably a good thing I stayed on the beach.)

The book keeps a good clip all the way through. The inside quirks and background stories of a commercial ship at sea –especially under the command of a polished Captain such as Andy sailed with makes an eye-opening and FUN read.

Check it out. Another great choice for the private library book collection and a favorite among Pineapple Hill’s books to take to the beach and boat/books to take sailing.

(Nope, not going to drop any spoilers on you here.)

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Whale Warriors

I just finished Peter Heller’s book The Whale Warriors about “the battle at the bottom of the world to save the planet’s largest mammals” …and I’ve got to tell you the whales don’t stand a chance. Between the mega-sized factory ships that process whales with the same cold efficiency that’s that leveled our rain forests so quickly, to the hippy vegans that go to sea to safe them ill trained and poorly equipped, the odds of preserving these wonderful and important animals look dim.

And once the whales go the other essentials to our survival go too.

It’s not just that that makes whales special. It’s their human like characteristics. The ability to feel love and deep rooted emotional attachment. To be stricken with grief when one of their peers is killed. To feel pain and loss. All of these motions made possible because inside the big brains of whales is a teeny tiny cell, called a “spindle” cell –originally thought to live only in humans and great apes. It the cell enabling love and emotions.

But fear not. I’m not going warm and fuzzy on you. I “get” Darwinism and the realities of survival.

I promise, I’d eat Pineapple Hill’s little pound pup Jack if I was hungry enough.

Jack doesn't like it when my stomach growls.
Jack doesn’t like it when my stomach growls.

I’m not here to preach. Neither was Heller.

What I especially liked about his book was his ability to tell the story of the voyage and The Situation –straddling the line between them as if on a teeter-totter. (As if trying to keep his balance on a 180-foot converted North Sea trawler pitching to and from and side to side on five story waves off the stormy shores of Antarctica –which was frequently the reality of his circumstances while embedded as a journalist out at sea).

His notes describe the politics of whale hunting

Chilean Sea Bass (aka Patagonian Toothfish). Yummy ...but nearly extinct.
Chilean Sea Bass (aka Patagonian Toothfish). Yummy …but nearly extinct.

and whale saving –at international levels, between Greenpeace and its rival The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and between crew members of the Sea Shepherd’s warship the Farley Mowat. I like his sincerity. His suspicions. His cynicism. His worries. His empathy.

Here’s an excerpt:

Here was a heavily dressed hand loading the harpoon gun with the explosive-tipped harpoon. Here was the ship moving fast in the swell. There were the blows of a pod of minke whales ahead, fleeing for all they were worth, blowing every few seconds, clearly panicked. Fire. The flight of the harpoon, the arrow-straight line of cable following. Miss. Fleeing whales. Now the camera focused on a whale in the rear of the pack. Good size. The harpooner focused on her too. Fire. Miss again. And another. Fourth shot hits her in the flank. Explosion and fountain of blood. Whale thrashing. Cable winch engaged, thrashing screaming whale reeled in, gushing blood, turning the sea red. Hauled to the side. Still convulsing, hemorrhaging everywhere, another spear, probe, on long pole with cable attached thrust into her side. Whale writhing. Big generator on deck blaring. Electrocution current now coursing through the new spear. Whale in bloody agony, Not even close to dead. Finally hauled, tail up, suspended so they can hold her breathing hole under. She drowns after fifteen more minutes in a sea of her own blood. I wanted to vomit.

Heller’s book was written almost ten years ago. There’s been a lot more oil and chemicals and pharmacuetical laced pee dumped into the water since then. A lot less fresh water pouring out from the world’s rivers. A lot more over harvesting of shrimp. Chilean Bass (aka Patagonian Toothfish), oysters, and other yummy ocean dwellers. There’s been a lot of life supporting coral reefs destroyed. A lot more mouths to feed (human, bovine, canine and others depend on what is brought up from the depths of the Earth). Where the currents of the wide open seas swirl and circle, there’s garbage accumulating: coolers, plastic chairs, sports beverage bottles and other junk –along with dead birds, fish and animals caught up in them.

I am not a crusader. I read Heller’s book in the hot tub next to a bunch of banana trees. Usually with some sort of sweating cocktail going.

But I do think more of us need to at least be more informed on what’s happening out there with “Mother Ocean”.

It’s not enough just listening to Jimmy Buffet songs wearing a Hawaiian shirt, faded red lifeguard trunks and sand encrusted flip-flops.

There’s a bigger place for all of us in this. A more substantive role. The first step is simply wanting to go look for it… Be sure to add this to your list of books to take to the beach and boat, or books to take sailing list.

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill