2023 Retrospective: How Books Met Boats this Year

A few weeks ago, I had my final sail of the year. Today is my last blog post of 2023. Time for my annual but quite informal look back at what I’ve accomplished since last December!

Last year, I published an end-of-year review of my own work habits. Fun to do once… but as my manager-self pointed out then, “Carol tends to avoid anything that involves too much rote repetition.” So this year, I’m going to take a different tack and look back at the highlights: where books met boats in 2023.

If only writing progress could be mapped with a GPS watch…


With two books “in the hopper” and progress mostly invisible until publication, it’s easy to lose track of how much I accomplished as an author in the past twelve months. First, I’ve dug deeper than I ever could’ve foreseen into the historical bilges of A Boat Called Hound; the result is going to be a very rich and detailed look back at this classic yacht. I’m honored to be part of the Hound fan club and can’t wait to share all of her fun stories with you. 

Second, I’ve been working toward a draft of the next novel that’s “ready” for an outside editor, a step that’s all too easy to put off. With Ferry to Cooperation Island, I hired that editor too late and wasted a lot of time perfecting details before the basic bones of the story were established. As I put it in April 2018, “I wish I hadn’t bothered with a lot of the cleanup until I made the big changes.” (Read more in Why Hire an Editor?) This time around, it feels too early… though only hindsight will show if that’s true. A January deadline has definitely sharpened my attention span the past few months, as I try to figure out which of the many goings-on out on Cooperation Island will carry your interest all the way to The End.

Balancing these two projects has been a struggle, but since they both challenge and excite me it feels like an embarrassment of riches.


I logged close to 150 days on the water in 2023 in a variety of craft. 100 of those days were wingfoiling—and I only had to be rescued once. Since I almost always record my track with a GPS watch, I got curious: was it possible to “see” my learning curve from the last day of the 2022 season (Nov 8) to the last of 2023 (November 19)? The answer is yes: compare the two tracks below.

Last fall (the left image) I was just starting to foil jibe, and I only sailed inside the harbor. Despite the solid northwesterly (16 knots, according to the weather stats), there’s a lot of blue—indicating non-foiling speeds.

Now (right image) shows me completing most of my jibes, which ups my average speed (and therefore the miles covered) even in lighter winds. And despite playing in open water, I’m also falling a lot less, which extended our season by another 11 days.

Favorite Part: Books Meet Boats

In that personal review one year ago, I asked my employee-self What do you enjoy most about the work you do? My answer still rings true: “That it’s so tightly interwoven with what I do for fun.” Books about boats, sailing as research—I’m so lucky to be proving the quote every day that “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

We spend most of our time looking forward, wanting to get better and produce more and see the next thing through, but it’s also important to stop and appreciate just how far we’ve come in the past year. Happy New Year, and thanks for sharing this wonderful journey. Before you start your celebrations, please shout out your favorite part of 2023 (or what you’re most looking forward to in 2024) either by email or in the comments below. I read every single one, with gratitude. 

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