Sailing With Impunity

Impunity cover 300x200I recently came back to land after a thoroughly enjoyable armchair adventure with Mary and Bruce Trimble on their sailboat Impunity. Sailing With Impunity: Adventure in the South Pacific is a story of a dream fulfilled for two very courageous and adventurous people. I hung on every word, from the chilling opening with “Man Overboard” and the life-threatening storms to the delightful, lazy days in tropical harbors and the new friends they made.

Welcome, Mary. You certainly have had an adventurous life, from living in Hawaii to the Peace Corps in the Gambia, to serving the Red Cross, to this 18-month sailing odyssey. Is this bold “venturesomeness” a part of your DNA, so to speak, something you always aspired to?

Mary: I love adventure. Right after I was born, my dad picked up my mother and me from the hospital and, along with my three year-old sister, we went camping. I guess that set the pace.

How did you and Bruce come to the decision to quit your jobs, sell your house and buy a sailboat to sail around the world?

Mary: We were both at a period in our lives that we longed for change. I loved my job as a computer/analyst at Safeco Insurance Company, and Bruce had a good job, too, working in the marine electronics field. But we knew how strenuous sailing is and decided that if we were going to do it, that was the time.

Sailing, to the uninitiated, sounds so romantic, peaceful and fun. Did you anticipate the possible dangers of this trip, and how did you prepare?

Mary: To tell you the truth, I had thought of this as a sort of luxury cruise. Bruce knew better. It wasn’t a luxury, though there were some lovely periods. But life at sea is hard work and can be downright dangerous. We prepared for some of the possibilities by having drills, such as the “man overboard” drill. We wore safety equipment; i.e. life vests and safety lines (tethers attached to the person and to the boat). We put rules in place such as no changing sails alone—the other person always needed to be present. Someone was always on deck and responsible for the boat, so we stood four hours on, four hours off, watch schedules.

What was the worst part of your trip?

Mary: Going along the U.S. west coast was pretty rough, but I guess the worst part was Cyclone Ofa that we experienced while in Samoa. The storm lasted for about 36 hours. We stayed aboard Impunity to do what we could to protect our boat.

How about the best part(s)?

Mary: Some legs of the journey had good winds and calm seas. We would scoot silently along with a minimum of work on our part. That was glorious. The night stars were wondrous and felt so close. Our companionship with each other was a real plus. We never tired of each other’s company.

What advice would you give someone who wants to experience this type of adventure?

Mary: Be prepared! We were appalled at how many people undertake this journey unprepared. It took a lot of work and planning, but we had food enough to last the journey, supplementing with fresh vegetables, fruit and meat or fish at various ports of call. Food can be expensive in the South Pacific. Also, Bruce stowed spares of anything that could possibly go wrong—spare pumps, seals, screws, sail repair equipment, etc. These are simple steps, but important for a safe trip.

How do you fulfill your adventuresome spirit now that you are “retired”?

Mary: Actually, we’re not retired. I am a full-time writer. Sailing with Impunity is my fifth book and second memoir. Bruce is still working, though retirement is hopefully not too far off.


A prolific writer, Trimble draws on personal experiences including Mary0010 croppurser and ship’s diver aboard the tall ship, M.S. Explorer, two years with the Peace Corps in West Africa, and a 13,000-mile South Pacific sailing trip aboard their Bristol 40, Impunity.

   Mary Trimble’s recently published memoir, Sailing with Impunity: Adventure in the South Pacific is about their 14-month sailing adventure, from magical sights and scents of their first island landfall to the bustling, colorful Tahitian markets. From sudden midnight squalls and weathering a cyclone in Samoa to pristine anchorages in the Kingdom of Tonga.

   An award-winning freelance writer, Trimble’s other works include Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps, a story of a newly married couple who discover themselves in new light as they work and learn about a third-world culture. Tenderfoot, a romantic suspense with a sub-plot of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. Tenderfoot won finalist with Western Writers of America for Best Western Long Novel. Her coming-of-age novels, Rosemount and McClellan’s Bluff have been met with enthusiastic acclaim.

   Trimble lives on Camano Island with her husband, Bruce.

Published in: on December 11, 2015 at 5:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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Celebrate With a Free Book and My Recommended Books List


Come and help me celebrate my birthday, which is Monday the 10th, and I will give some lucky commenter  your choice of Cowgirl Dreams or Follow the Dream.

All you have to do is share this post on Facebook, Twitter or any of your other social networks, then leave a comment with the links. I will put your name in the Cowgirl hat for the drawing! The more links you post, the more times I’ll put your name in. (Paper books limited to the U.S., out of the U.S. will receive an electronic version.)

And, my Christmas gift to you is FREE SHIPPING on orders for autographed books from now until Dec. 25! (Also in the U.S.)

Books make great Christmas gifts. They are inexpensive, they take the reader on great adventures, and you can read them again as many times as you’d like (even share them with friends and family!)

Here are a few of my recommendations:

Tubob-CoverTubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps, by Mary E. Trimble. This memoir describes her and her husband’s life in third-world country The Gambia. As Peace Corps volunteers, they struggle with cultural differences and do what they can for people who are often reluctant to change. Hardships abound, but so do strong friendships. Humor is abundant, but so is misery. Early on, the newlyweds were told that Peace Corps would either make or break a marriage. Mary and Bruce find out how true that is.  To learn more about Tubob, click here  To order Tubob, click here

Dividing SeasonThe Dividing Season, a novel by Karen Casey-Fitzjerrell. In The Dividing Season, Karen Casey Fitzjerrell celebrates the redemptive qualities of the human spirit and raises the question:  What are you willing to give up in order to calm those  secret longings that beg for something more?     Near the end of her life, Nell Miggins decided all her years spent on earth could be divided into two parts, each equally content but separated by a season of bewildering uncertainty and death. She remembered the stinging edge of desperation the day the dividing season began and understood clearly that if it hadn’t been for the Windmiller she’d have lived the last half of her life as a shriveled old fool never knowing the grace and simple joy of just being. Order here

wrecker1Raising Wrecker by Summer Wood, A WILLA Literary Award Winner. By turns funny, moving, and gripping, Wrecker is the story of a nearly-broken boy whose presence turns a motley group of isolated eccentrics into a real family. Real enough to make mistakes. Real enough to stick together in spite of everything ready to tear them apart. Order here

Moonshine Murder coverMoonshine Murder a Young Adult novel by Erin Gray.  When seventeen-year-old Lenora Giovanni’s father dies from tainted moonshine, leaving her alone, she is forced into a life of danger. Lenora is determined to find whoever sold the poison to her father–a determination that leads her into working as an undercover agent in the town of Durango, Colorado. Falling in love with a bootlegger, how will Lenora choose, with her head or her heart? Order here

The InheritorsThe Inheritors by Judith Kirscht, the author of Nowhere Else to Go. Raised in Chicago’s Latino working class community during the Sixties, Alicia Barron uncovers her mother’s Caucasian roots when she inherits a time-worn mansion, the remnant of the estate of a Chicago industrialist who, she discovers, is her grandfather. Her search of the house takes her into the lives of past generations of women whose love carried them across forbidden boundaries, and into the conflict of class, nationality, and race that is the history of the city itself. The identity she finds there, however, leads to increasing conflict with her first great love, Ricardo Moreno, who wants Alicia to reject her gringo roots. Order here

Can you add any books to this list?

Writing My Memoir, TUBOB: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps


My friend and writing colleague in Women Writing the West, Mary Trimble, has just published her memoir about her two years in the Peace Corps in Africa. Tubob means “stranger”. I’ve asked Mary to share her writing journey for this book.

by Mary E. Trimble
Writing this memoir was both scary and satisfying. It was absolutely essential for me to be true to our Peace Corps experience, yet I knew it had to be a satisfying read in order to hold reader interest. I’ve never kept a journal, but as we left for Africa we asked our families to save all our letters home. Although I vividly remembered much of our two-year experience in The Gambia, reading our letters home served as rich resource material. From our letters I was reminded of the chore of putting a meal on the table, of the hospital conditions where I worked, Bruce’s job frustrations at the United Nations well-digging shop, our friends, both African and expatriate, our sometimes too-frequent house guests, and the terror of being caught up in an attempted military coup.

Once I started TUBOB, it came together very quickly and I grew confident that what I had to share would be of interest. My husband Bruce took hundreds of slides while we were in The Gambia and he painstakingly converted many of them to digital images so that he could design TUBOB’s cover and also provide images at the beginning of each chapter, which helped set the tone of the book.

Take a look at this stirring book trailer.

An excerpt from Tubob:

MORTARS THUNDERED close to the house where 118 of us sought refuge. A particularly loud and close-sounding explosion made us jump and the house shudder. Not for the first time, I thought, Is this the end?
My Peace Corps supervisor Meri Aimes and I crouched under a small table with space only for the two of us. Others scrunched in where they could find room. My husband, Bruce, safely tucked under the desk he’d converted to a radio station, clutched the radio mic.

True, it was the American Ambassador’s house, but, though nice, it wasn’t the grand residence usually associated with a high-ranking officer’s home. At four thousand square feet, the concrete house wasn’t particularly large, not for this many people at any rate.

Our group of leaders had taken over the ambassador’s bedroom as a sort of headquarters, since the ambassador himself was “detained” at the embassy in The Gambia’s capital city, Banjul. Families occupied the other two bedrooms; otherwise, people squeezed in where they could.

Meri’s eyes were huge. Her African American face was always expressive, but never more so than just then.
This isn’t looking good, is it?” I said, trying to sound calmer than I felt.

Meri looked at me like I’d just made the understatement of the year. “Not really, no.”

“I’m wondering if Bruce and I will ever be able to get back to our village.”

“Right now I’d say it was doubtful.”

We both instinctively covered our heads at the sound of a close-by explosion. I broke out in sweat.

“I need to tell you something.”

Meri’s raised her eyebrows in question.

I waited until another flurry of rifle shots subsided. “We have about twenty-five hundred dollars buried in our chicken coop.”

“You what?”

“Well, what else can you do with American dollars? You can’t put it in a Gambian bank, we couldn’t keep it inside–we’ve already had our place broken into. We were converting our Gambian money into American cash so we’d have it when we left.”

Meri nodded. “You guys will probably be evacuated, but George and I likely will stay to get things wrapped up.” George Scharffenberger, Peace Corps Director, and Meri Aimes, Assistant Director, were the two highest ranking Peace Corps staff in the West African country of The Gambia. We were lucky they were both with us, safe. For the moment, at least.

Meri touched my arm. “I promise I’ll do everything I can to recover your money. Draw me a map showing me just where it is.” She shook her head. “Only you and Bruce would think to hide money in a chicken coop.”

A runner, gasping for breath, banged on the bedroom door. “Someone is coming!” Bruce sprang out of his shelter and, quick and smooth with practice, dismantled the radios, forbidden to us by both the rebels and nationalists. He stuffed them into boxes kept under the desk. Within seconds he crawled back under the desk, cramming himself in front of the boxes. He was good. I was so proud of him.

Bruce’s and my eyes locked. As we had joked many times in the past two years, we silently asked, “Whose idea was this anyway?”

Tom Mosier, head of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in The Gambia, and George Scharffenberger came out from their safety places to greet our visitor. “Stay right where you are, folks,” Tom said, his voice tight.
The door opened and a man strode in. He was probably an officer in charge; he reeked of authority. We couldn’t tell if he was a nationalist or a rebel from the local security force, Field Force they called it, which, together with disgruntled leftists, had started the coup several days earlier. He was a big man and to me he looked sinister. My stomach clenched. His black face glistened with sweat. He carried a rifle and wore a hand gun at his side. His eyes darted around the room. “This is good. Stay under cover. I have ordered that this house is not to be hit, but you never know…”

He nodded to Tom and George, and left. No one spoke until we heard a soft knock on the door. He was gone. Bruce sprang up and reassembled the radios just as a signal was coming through. He brought the mic with him back under the desk.

“Candyland, Lollypop. Candyland, come in. You guys okay?”

Bruce responded, his rich voice calm. “Lollypop, Candyland. Yes, we’re okay. One of the local officers just paid us a visit and…” An explosion, even closer this time, drowned out his voice.


Mary is also the author of three novels, Rosemount, McClellan’s Bluff, and Tenderfoot, a Western Writers of America SPUR award finalist. Her books may be found at local bookstores, on her website, and on Amazon.


Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 6:00 am  Comments (11)  
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When Mt. St. Helens Blew

My guest today is my good friend and fellow Women Writing the West member, Mary Trimble. Her third novel, Tenderfoot, has just been released by Treble Heart Books, and with a setting that revolves around the Mount St. Helen’s eruption, is a very timely story. Mary is also author of two Young Adult novels, Rosemount and award-winning McClellan’s Bluff.

Mary, what gave you the idea to write a story around this catastrophic event?

When I spent time interviewing a rancher in eastern Washington, he talked a lot about the events and subsequent inconvenience of the eruption to his operation. I thought it interesting, but that wasn’t really why I was there, so I didn’t pay that much attention. Later, as I listened to those interview tapes, I realized what a gold mine I had and vowed I’d get back to that subject again. Thus, Tenderfoot.

Why is the release of this book so timely?

Pure coincidence. I tried to “sell” this book before, then rewrote much of it, before putting it on the market again. The timing just worked out to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens 1980 eruption.

This is a bit of a departure from your other novels. You call it romantic suspense. Is it suitable for both adult and young adult audiences?

It is suitable for both, but is categorized as adult. However, it is appropriate for young adults to read and, I think, of interest. I do have a teen in the story–I just can’t seem to get away from them!

I know there is a story behind the cover photo for Tenderfoot. Would you share that with us?

We were camping in eastern Oregon, driving along a back road near Steens Mountain, which is wide-open ranch country. You can drive for miles and miles and still be along side a single ranch. We saw a couple of cowboys rounding up and sorting cattle. We pulled up our truck/camper alongside and watched. A cowboy rode over to us and asked if we needed help and we said we just wanted to watch and take some pictures. “Have at it,” he said and he resumed his work.

Later, when the publisher asked for cover ideas, my husband, Bruce, whipped out one of the pictures he’d taken and asked what I thought about it. I loved it, but the cowboy on horseback was a “he” and my main character is a woman. “Oh,” he said, “I can fix that.” Through Photoshop, he gave the rider a pony tail and slimmed her down. Then, he overlaid a picture of pre-eruption Mount St. Helens in the distance.

That’s a great story. It’s truly a family effort!

When did you first begin writing? Did you start out with non-fiction or fiction?

I first began writing non-fiction articles for magazines and newspapers. I did that for several years before I wrote my first book.

How have you developed your skills–did you study writing or take classes?

I have taken a few creative writing classes through the years, but once we moved to Camano Island, I joined an on-going writing class, which proved to be very helpful and in which I received a lot of encouragement.

You’ve had numerous magazine articles published. Tell us where the ideas for these come from.

Mostly from issues of interest to me. I’m a freelance writer and don’t really want to take assignments, though I’ve done that from time to time. Mostly, though, I don’t want to work with other people’s deadlines. I write an article, then sell it. I’ve had good success doing this. My early articles were about sailing, as we had just completed a 14-month sailing trip throughout the South Pacific, but then my writing evolved to RV-related articles and articles of interest to homeowners.

Which genre is easier to write?

I like writing both non-fiction and fiction. I would find it difficult to write sexually descriptive stories, but I enjoy writing fiction that can be enjoyed by adults and young adults. That’s the kind of reading I enjoy, too.

What kind of books do you like to read and which authors would you say have influenced you?

I think my hands-down favorite author is Lucy Maud Montgomery. Her heart-felt Anne of Green Gables is as fresh today as it was when she wrote it in 1908. I love anything written by Jane Kirkpatrick–I think I’ve read all her books. Also, Larry McMurty is a favorite–especially Lonesome Dove.

Are you an outliner or a “seat-of-the pants” writer?

I’m an outliner, but I give myself permission to vary from the outline. I’m a structured person and an outline makes me feel “in control.” But I have learned to listen to other voices when they try to squeeze in. In Tenderfoot, the rancher, J, had no children at first, but this little teenage twerp, Gretchen, kept pestering me. Finally, I gave in and I think she added much to the story.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in writing?

Join, or form, a critique group. I don’t send anything out until my husband reads it first, and then my critique group. Be open to what they have to say. Listen to them–if they question what you’ve written, so will your readers.

Here is a synopsis and review of Tenderfoot:

A romantic suspense, Tenderfoot takes place on a working Northwest cattle ranch in 1980, the year the world remembers for the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens. Corrie Stephens is eager to   learn about ranching, but reluctant to become involved with a man – it’s just not worth the heartache. Rancher J McClure, on the other hand, has been alone too long. Tenderfoot draws the reader into the story’s strong emotions based on family, love, and the first-hand adventure of the eruption of Mount St. Helens.

“…a finely told tale…above all, Tenderfoot is a story about love: love of the land, love of each other and love that forgives and moves on. A page turner and a delight.

— Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of historical novels of the American West

Tenderfoot is available from Mary’s website, through the publisher Treble Heart Books, from your favorite bookstore or on Amazon.

Other novels by Mary E. Trimble include Rosemount and McClellan’s Bluff, which both take place in Washington and Oregon and feature the same main character.

Published in: on March 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm  Comments (6)  
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