Shira Anthony Guest Post: BOATS!

Please welcome Shira Anthony to Gay Book Reviews today taking about the in’s-and-out’s of boats and navigation and waterways, and more! Check out her her latest book The First Step out today!

Thank you Gigi and Gay Book Reviews for hosting today’s stop on the release tour for The First Step, the first in my Coastal Carolina series of gay romances set at the North and South Carolina coasts. Please be sure to read to the bottom of the post for an exclusive excerpt from the story.

My husband and I are quitting our day jobs this December for a chance to live and sail aboard our beautiful new-to-us catamaran, Prelude. If you’d like to check her out, you’ll find a video tour I filmed about 3 days after we purchased her and sailed her on the open ocean from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Wilmington, North Carolina.

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When I’m writing contemporary romance, I like to stick to what I know and love. The Blue Notes series was about my love of music, and the Coastal Carolina series is about my favorite oceanside locations—places we’ve visited regularly about the Prelude.

I get a lot of questions about life aboard a boat and maneuvering on the water, so I thought I’d talk briefly about navigating, in particular. Waterways, like roads, are marked. But the markings aren’t particularly precise, and you need many tools to navigate a larger boat safely. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to navigate a huge cargo ship into port like one of the MCs from my story, Justin Vance. It’s challenging enough with a boat that’s 38 feet long and 24 feet wide, let alone one that’s as long as many skyscrapers are high!

Channel markers indicate the route of the channel, but they are spaced across from each other to show the edges of the channel—you navigate near them since they usually are placed in the center. Markers are numbered to coordinate with maps (charts, as we call them), and tend to alternate red and green. Usually, the key is “green going” and “red right return,” so the red markers are on your right when you are returning to port and green on your left. But when channels meet, they tend to get jumbled. That’s when you refer to those charts.

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Click for larger photo

Another challenge when navigating, less so with a catamaran, that doesn’t stick so far under the water (we call that a boat’s “draft”), is that with the current, channels tend to shift. The Coast Guard may add smaller “can style” markers in case you need to make a detour from the more permanently-placed wooden markers. Sometimes that means a zig-zag course to avoid shoaling (where the bottom sands of the channel have shifted to make it shallower). Overall, it means you have to be watching not only the markers, but the charts and your depth meter, to make sure you aren’t getting too close to the bottom.

Getting too close to the bottom, or “grounding” a boat, usually means you can work your way out of the sand by using your engines in reverse. Sometimes, it means calling for a towboat to pull you off the bottom, something that’s time-consuming and pricey. We actually pay an annual fee for tow insurance. We’ve never had to use it (knock wood!), but it’s nice to know it’s there if you need it.

I’ll leave you with some photos of channel markers, and a few of our boat. Be sure to read to the end of the post for an exclusive excerpt from The First Step that gives a bit of a sense of what navigating means, only not in the way MC Reed Barfield expected on his trip on the Cape Fear River. Happy reading! -Shira

Title: The First Step (Coastal Carolina #1)
Author: Shira Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 247
Reviewed by: Kristin

The first step is the hardest. After a scandal, New York political reporter Reed Barfield is lying low at the North Carolina coast, writing a story about the seafood industry. But it’s the harbor pilots on the Cape Fear River who capture his interest—men who jump across ten feet of open ocean to grab a rope ladder and guide huge container ships into port. Men like sexy but prickly Justin Vance.

After surviving an abusive childhood and a tour in the Navy, Justin isn’t fazed by his dangerous job—it’s certainly easier to face than Reed’s annoying questions. Justin isn’t out at work, and he doesn’t need Reed digging into his personal life or his past.

But Reed’s no stranger to using his considerable charm to get what he wants, and as he wears Justin down, they realize they have a lot in common—and that they like spending time together. Moving beyond that, though, will mean Justin confessing his sexuality and learning to trust Reed with his secrets—if Reed even decides to stay. Both men want a future together, but can they find the courage to take the first step?

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Reed let the camera hang around his neck as he waved to Ellis, the captain of the small center-cockpit fishing boat he’d hired to take him out on the river near Southport. He sighed and inhaled the slightly salty air as he eyed Bald Head Island in the distance. Here, the Cape Fear looked like a small bay, surrounded as it nearly was by Southport, Oak Island, and Bald Head. On a Sunday with a steady wind, barely a cloud in the sky, and a warm sun overhead, a ton of boats were headed onto the ocean.

“Ready to move closer to the inlet?” Ellis asked as Reed stepped off the bow and sat inside the boat. “Should be good weather for some shots of fishing boats headin’ out to the ocean.”

“Perfect. Thanks.” Reed watched as a charter boat passed between Bald Head Island and Jay Bird Shoals on its way through the inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. “Where does the Cape Fear River end?”

“You’re lookin’ at it,” Ellis answered. “That there’s the cape.” He pointed to the island in front of them.

“Bald Head?”

“Bald Head’s part of the cape.” He gestured to the land to their left and right. “This here’s the rest of it.”

“How did the river get its name?” Reed had done the research, but he wanted to know what a local knew about it.

“Way back, there was an expedition,” Ellis said as they slowed off the shore near Oak Island. “They got stuck near Frying Pan Shoals, up around the other side of the island. Thought they’d wreck. Story goes the men were afraid, so they named it Cape Fear. Lots of wrecks this way too.”

“Sounds like they picked the right name.” Reed smiled.

“Reckon they did.” Ellis smiled and pointed to the first marker for the channel that led to the ocean. “You’ll get a good view here. There’s a lot a current, though, so it’s a little hard to keep ’er in one place.”

“No problem.” Reed double-checked his camera and climbed onto the bow again. A boat came by them, moving quickly toward the inlet. The little boat rocked from side to side, and Ellis compensated. “Kind of like surfing up here,” Reed joked.

“Might be safer if you stand inside the boat.” Ellis looked a little worried.

“I’m fine.” Reed tapped his lifejacket and smiled back at Ellis. “I’ve got pretty good balance, and it’ll just be a few minutes.” He lifted the camera to focus and snapped a few photos of the shoals to their right, then zoomed in and took a couple of the channel markers. Several gulls sat atop one of them, watching the water. Reed guessed they were waiting for the sun to set before looking for dinner.

He aimed the lens at a small boat working its way through the channel, fighting the waves. “The inlet looks pretty rough.”

“Tide’s going out. Makes for an excitin’ ride if you’re comin’ in ’round now.” Ellis shrugged. “There’s a whole lotta current ’round here. If you time it right, it gives you a nice boost. Like havin’ a supercharged motor.”

“Sounds fun.” Reed took aim at a fishing boat coming in behind the smaller boat—exactly the photo he’d been hoping for. He took three or four shots, then turned his attention to Bald Head Island, where a beautiful sailing vessel was headed out from the marina. He snapped a few shots of the boat as it turned toward them and motored toward Southport.

“Sure wish I could spend the day sailing,” he told Ellis. “Nice breeze. Clear day. Just the kind of day to—”

“Hang on!” Ellis shouted. A small motorboat whizzed by them, causing their boat to rock and roll. Reed managed to maintain his balance as Ellis did his best to compensate.

“Thanks, Ellis,” Reed said. “For a minute there I thought I might be swimming back to the—”

Shit. Reed saw the wake right before it hit the side of their boat. He tried to counterbalance and jump into the cockpit, but another wake hit the boat’s bow. He splashed into the water, surfacing an instant later thanks to the life vest.

“Reed!” Ellis tossed a rope toward him. “Grab on to that and I’ll pull you in!”

Reed reached for the rope, but the current was already pulling him away from the boat and toward the inlet. No problem. I’m a good swimmer. I’ll head back to the boat.

He kicked and tried to use his arms, something made far more difficult by the flotation device. He dropped the camera—he hadn’t even realized he was still holding it—letting it hang on the strap. It’d be fine with its waterproof case. He, on the other hand, wasn’t doing as well. He kicked and kicked against the current, but he couldn’t even manage to stay in place against it. It was worse than trying to walk into a wave at the beach.

Ellis turned the boat around and headed toward him, tossing the rope once again. Reed struggled to reach the rope, making it within about ten feet before the current pulled him farther toward the inlet and the shoals. Without the life vest, he’d be sinking about now. He was already exhausted.

Not exactly my idea of a day on the water.

Author Bio

Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: Shira’s Singing

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 38′ catamaran sailboat, Prelude, at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

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