Deep Sea Driver

| April 11, 2005

“I just love being out there and being so close to the wildlife in those pristine conditions. You can see porpoises and orcas and Minke whales and bald eagles all day long.”

Whitchurch also enjoys sailing the Caribbean, but he says those waters have more of a party atmosphere and he’d rather sail in the more spiritually satisfying atmosphere of Puget Sound. “There’s not so much garbage in the water, there are no personal water craft in most places up there, and there’s more little pubs and arts and crafts shop and not so many rhumba bands,” he says.

These days Whitchurch’s sailing craft is a Kenner Privateer docked in Savannah, Ga. “It’s a 30-foot cutter rig, and she’s ocean capable so we can take her down to the Bahamas or Bermuda, Key West or Grenada.” When he sails in the San Juans these days, he’s likely to charter a boat and maybe take family and friends on cruises, or occasionally act as captain for a charter boat company. Whitchurch says he’s licensed to captain “anything up to 50 feet in any conditions.”

He plans his sailing vacations months in advance. “Deb and I will run three to four weeks in the truck, then come back and take eight days off, maybe five sailing and three at home,” Whitchurch says. “I let Kennesaw know what I’m planning, and they work with me to make it happen. But I’d like to sail more than I do; that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book.”

The “book” is an action thriller called The Pied Piper Project – Russia’s Child, a tense drama pitting the CIA and KGB against each other with a maverick hero at the center of the action.

“My plan is for us to sail around the world. I could leave the boat somewhere and come back and do some driving if I had to, then go back,” Whitchurch says. “I figure it would take about three years. Writing books could help me pay for it, and maybe I wouldn’t have to come home and drive so much. I’d like to be sitting on the boat in the sun writing more books. I’ve spent 28 years putting chains on in ice and snow, and my body is telling me it’s time for the sun.”

Whitchurch has traveled across the world before but hasn’t yet sailed the whole way round.

“My dad bought a 41-foot boat a couple of years ago, and I knew he wanted to take it around the world. But it hasn’t happened,” he says. “I took every course I needed to be certified to sail with him, but not yet. But he’s a fine sailor. He told me once ‘I’d rather be on a sailboat on 40-foot waves than in a truck on two inches of ice.’ I agree with that 100 percent now.

“And I sailed with a guy who was sailing from America to Bermuda then on to the Azores and into Gibraltar and the Mediterranean. I got off in Bermuda, had to come back and go driving.”

Whitchurch also took off for the Orient on board a giant ship. “I was talking to a guy in Stockton, Calif., and he sailed on a cargo ship. He told me that they had cabins for passengers, nothing fancy, but real cheap. For $350 I sailed to Thailand and then flew back.

“I also sailed out from the West Coast to Hawaii and on to Christmas Island and down into the South Pacific and the Cook Islands. But then I flew home again. Next time, maybe Deb and me, we don’t stop, we just keep on sailing.”

Daniel and Debra Whitchurch formed a driving team seven years ago. “When our kids were pretty much grown, Deb came out on the road with me,” Whitchurch says. “I was running coast to coast and not getting home enough. She wanted to get on the road, so we teamed up and went to driving for Kennesaw, and they’re one of the best outfits I’ve ever worked for.”

Truck drivers make natural deep-water sailors, Whitchurch says.

There’s something about trucking that matches the skills and the mindset you need for blue-water sailing, according to Whitchurch. For example, the knots a flatbedder must know are the same as nautical knots. “There’s even a nautical knot called the Trucker’s Knot,” he says. “But it’s not just tying off ropes, its being behind the wheel.

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