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?