Friday, March 17, 2017


Do you remember the day, hour, the moment she called out to you?  I could never forget. 

My teenage son, his girlfriend, Aubree, and I were out on my father's fishing boat on the 4th of July.  It was night time and we were having a great time running around the Manatee River, which is lined with Mangroves, at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico.  I spent a lot of time in the ocean that night, for one reason to get fishing line out from around my prop!  The outside breeze was warm and so was the water, and I was more worried about the night time feeding habits of the shark, more than being wet.

We ran out of gas, but I was near a marina.  Everyone was closed due to the Holiday, so I put the kids in a Taxi, and decided to spend the night on the boat and deal with the gas issue in the morning.  I wasn't completely comfortable, but I was cozy on the water, surrounded by boaters. To my surprise the next morning, so many boat people had plenty of gas to share with me with exuberant smiles of helpfulness.

I headed home down the Manatee River at sunrise.  The sea was calm like blue glass.  Dolphins played before my bow guiding me home.  A friend who was worried about me, met me at the public boat launch to make sure I was okay and helped me put the boat on the trailer.  As I pulled over the bridge of the Manatee River, I looked out over those calm waters and stopped.

I heard her at that moment.  The motion of her waters was still moving the very fluids in my body.  She called me, "Come back to me."  I felt her tug, her draw and my spirit reached out from within to find her, "Come back to me."  I felt if I left her, my heart would break.

I hadn't known then, I would marry a sailor, who is a boat builder, a few years later.  I do know now after many hours on the waters, it is the only place feeling like home.  With each wave she still greets me, with each trough and blow of wind she beckons me further and further away from land.  I am settled, I am calm, I am free in her embrace.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


A long time ago, Peter wrote this words, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." It never occured to me the several times i have read this, that it would ever actually come in the form of fire.
I was filling the canisters for the stove fuel and it over filled. When lit it exploded. It had happened before. We kept two small kitchen extinquishers in the bread hammock, and we had two large containers on board. I opted out for throwing our everblades blanket on top of the stove. I was perplexed the fire suddenly got bigger, the hatch was closed, and i did not want to open it to give the flames more 02, so i reached for the small extinquisher and put out the fire on the stove, but again, i was surprized our starboard port light curtain burst into flames. I felt the heat of the flames in my nostril. The only thought going through my head was, "There is no way, I am going to let my house burn down to the water!" I threw open the hatch, to run up the dock to get the hose and then I saw the fuel container, uncapped, on it's side, spilling it's liquid all over the countertop.
Running out on the dock, I saw, heard and smelled at the same time the hair on my head curling up in tiny black balls. Realizing I was on fire, I contemplated jumping in the canal, but the water hose was two seconds away. On goes the water spout, I doused myself, running back to the boat. I threw water everywhere. The flames were gone, but the smoke kept pouring out the hatch....I couldn't stop. I was out of breath, unable to call David, the neighbors looking over the fence asked me if I wanted them to call the fire department. Looking down at my left arm and seeing the skin falling off before my eyes I breathlessly yelled, "NO, call an ambulance!"
We have stayed too long at the dock, knowing this, but excusing this as the many land responsibilities and hobbies David and I knowingly take in our lives, I became complacent. I couldn't remember that word, David to my agreement was able to come up with a 4 syllable word to describe the most important ingredient for trouble; complacancy.
I found out in about 5 minutes an equation ringed true: Fire + complacency + split fuel + exploding butane = trouble + pain and fiery trial. That came with about $3,000 worth of electronic equipment.
In the middle of my captains course I was watching a lengthy film about prevention of fires aboard a vessel, I wondered through out, who would ever want to be a captain!? The Captain of my home, and heart has a few pet peeves, but one single command is sticking in my mind during these moments of contemplation. Those words are, "Gear Adrift!"

We hit a brick wall, we are recovering. The healing outpouring of love came from all over, family, and friends. Pain turned into experience. The goodness ripples
of the effects of those weeks will continue to manifest.

We know and believe God is Good.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Riding The Storm

I’ve heard the term before (riding the storm),  but I never really experienced it, until July of this year.  David and I were going to Marco Island to watch the fireworks and fish.  It was the usual hot Florida summer day and the storm cells that week formed anywhere, at any time.

It was impossible to anchor long enough to get a hook in the water before a thunder cloud threatened our safety.  We were off of Coon Key, searching for Triple tail near a large marker.  A storm cell formed, David announced we got 5 minutes.  By the time we lifted anchor, the waves and wind was sending Anhinga 8.4 knots towards the river.  She liked that. 

If anyone has been in the Marco River, one would know right away it is a great safe haven for storms.  Outside in the Gulf a storm could be raging, but inside the river, a boat would experience only ripple of waves.

The sky was kind enough to halt it’s downpour until after the fireworks were over.  We decided to leave the next day.  David took stock of the weather and saw that there were two storms in the gulf, but a wide margin of clear skies were between them.  The entrance to the river was a bit deceiving.  It’s  a blind exit into the gulf.  We casually motored out, watching others in their yachts motor inward.  David put up a reef main, knowing the winds would be high.  Once out of the river’s mouth we found ourselves not yet in a full gale storm, but as we looked back we could see an high energy large thunderhead with soft rolling clouds around the top of it like a halo.  We were in the warm strong wind the storm pushed ahead of itself.  It was about 40 knots.

The main slammed against its starboard stay, as the wind was directly behind us.  David could not get the main down and this was vital for our safety.  He couldn’t leave the helm, so he told me I had to go and pull the main down.  I wanted to tell him he was crazy, it was not safe and I didn’t know I could do it, but when I looked at David’s face, I knew it was a job I had to do.  I only had my bibs on and a t shirt.  I held the hand rails tightly along the port side, then dragged the main sail down, it was hard.  I barely got a hold of the halyard line to pull it around the cleat as my butt smashed down on the cabin with my legs wrapped around the mast.

What I did not know at the time, David’s plan was to throw some of the jib out, to steady the boat.  The jib tore loose from its roll and slammed all the way out.  I was flat on my back at that point as Anhinga tipped about 30 degrees and her side railings was slicing through the water.  I grabbed onto the hand rail and nothing could stop my mouth from letting out a girly scream.  Flat on my back and tipped towards starboard, I could not even sit up as the wind pressed down on me.

Then I heard David from behind me yell, “Don’t worry… we are still under control!” I was safely secured to the mast by my legs and my hand on the rail.  I was in an exhilarating position; I thought to myself, I’m glad someone decided to tell me because it really doesn’t look like we are in control!

  Yet, I trust my salty dog with my life; he is experienced and knows what to do in an emergency.  My second thought was, “I’m going to stay right here until he fixes this.”  Just then, I heard the grinding sound of the winch as David slowly pulled the jib in until we had about 2 feet of triangle sticking out.

Anhinga righted herself up properly and we had a fast sail home.

I learned a few things:
To gain proper experience, one must allow oneself to reach out of the comfort zone.
Trust the one with the most experience behind the helm
God is still in control of the wind and the waves.
Experience in the storm will help you through the next one.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What every Mariner Knows

Every Mariner knows that a ship wants to be in the water. This keeps a boat healthy. It’s not just the maintenance one does before a trip, the stroke of sandpaper along her teak, the replacement of worn moving parts, or the re-stitching of a weak clue in the jib. A happy boat needs to keep moving.

Likewise, every Seaman has heard the call of the sea, when the wind tumbles with untamed waves sending a breeze of a whisper saying, “Come out with me, and immerse yourself with me.” It’s not just a call, but a drawing of one’s soul back to the primal source of life.

We almost lost our boat in the Bahamas. David and I was finishing up a 3 week sail in our 28 foot Phillip Rhoades sailboat, Anhinga. We anchored on the leeward side of a rocky island as a weak Northern front was coming through. By 3 o’clock in the blackness of night our anchor alarm went off. We were about to slip towards the mass of jagged rocks off the stern. I was on a pitching bow holding onto two anchor lines like a bull rider; below David was trying to start our Yanmar diesel engine with failing starter wires.

David got the engine roaring and we gingerly maneuvered around the rocks to be sheltered from the wind. That morning we woke up to what could be called a white squall. It’s all I could see, it was glorious. I could not keep the rain from pouncing through the bin boards of the companionway. When the storm passed we were amazed to see a large water spout spinning alongside the leeward part of the island right where we had anchored that night. Anhinga became our sanctuary.

The sun came out and the winds turned southwesterly, so we set off our way back to Bimini, at a running pace of 7 knots. Quite fast for Anhinga! We were having the ride of our life! The 4 minute clip below is what I put together from the sail after the storm I call, “Anhinga’s song.”

We had watched a film about a young man named Charlie Cloud, who raced sailboats in high school. He was showing his little brother the ropes; they stood together in the dawn watching the sailboats set off from an unnamed shore. His little brother said to him, “Charlie where do you think they are going?” Charlie whimsically looks across the bay and says, “Everywhere.”

Go and Enjoy! Sharon Bickel

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Sarah Jane

Imagine being a small girl around the age of 6, in a fancy little dress, staring down at a cement circle with your family in a graveyard.  Imagine you were told you had a sister that you had never met and never will.   Imagine a life filled with brothers, boisterous, adventurous, and altheletic.  Imagine being a girl, but always striving to be as fast, as good, and as strong as your brothers.  Imagine being a mother losing her first child, in a long and arduous labor.

I would be a very different person, if Sarah Jane had lived.  I can't imagine the pain, confusion, and guilt my mother had carried in her heart during a time little was known about carrying a still born child.  I can't be heartless to say, I am glad I did not have a sister, I just know I would not have did the things I have done, traveled the places I have been, and dreamed to reach a higher mountain if she was my living sister.  I would never have met my soul mate, David.

I just have to know that God knew best for her, for me, and for my husband.  I am glad her name will live on in a custom creation made by a loving master shipwright, whose heart is buried underneath his gruff, and rough exterior.  We will enjoy taking Sarah Jane fishing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I say this in regards to the whole group that was participating in the First Annual Southwest Boat Building Festival. Can I add we were all happily captivated? We at the Shipwright Shop have been living, breathing, working on this historical event for 6 months. As David Bickel says, “this important maritime festival is loongggg over due in southwest florida!”

Yet, can I add, the kids participating in this event worked about as hard as we did in their building efforts in two and one half days, as we worked on producing this festival in 6 months. No, they were not playing video games, watching television, or chatting with friends on the phone, they were gluing, hammering, sanding, and yes, they were drilling this weekend.

The boats shaped out marvelously, right before everyone's eyes. The kids, well, not all were kids (we had young adults, also), came out victoriously in building their first wooden vessel for the sponsors who graciously made this all happen.

Who won the contest? They all were winners in our minds and hearts, and in the eyes of all the observers who came out to watch this phenomenal event taking place at the Lee County Boat Show.

The volunteering mentors work as equally hard. One could never tell the weekend hours they freely gave up coming to the Shipwright Shop to build, and paint the feature boat, in order to give these Boat Builders their best guidance. By the look of pride in their faces when they gave the Achievement Certificates to their amazing team of 5 kids, I would say it was well worth all their efforts.

Can I just say, thanks everyone?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Come and Gone!

Another unique character walked into The Shipwright Shop one day. Let's just say his initials are KW. Interesting enough, as he came for advice on how to build a kayak, but Capt. David T. put sand paper in his hand and made him help smooth out the wood grain of the SUP board he was building. More interesting, KW came back for more, so David gave him a job. He has had some boat work experience, an avid hunter, hiker, kayaker, according to his facebook page, anyway, and now a very good mountain biker! As any carpenter, experienced or not, he found out that Marine Carpentry goes beyond the bounds of the simple task of squaring off corners! Marine carpentry pushes the wood to do what wood normally would not do, or be. The shaping, and the bending of wood to create something beautiful..elegant, curvy and graceful is a passion and an art.

Well, this young man worked with us for a few months, we decided he needed a proper nickname, we waited for one to arise. Alas, to our loss he got a job with a biogenetics warehouse, he has a wife and wonderful young son to support. We miss him, but know he is in good hands. If you see him, he will be the one walking around checking inventory, you will know him not just by his long beard, proudly worn, but he will be the one wearing the brand new leather tool belt with a measuring stick in it's proper place.

By the way, we did get a nickname for him. We call him, "The Rabbi."