Introducing “The Roger Henry File”

Alvah Simon begins his CW blog with salutations and a little E.B. White. "The Roger Henry File" for September 19, 2007

Alvah Simon and Family 368

Alvah Simon and his wife Diana along with their crew Halifax the cat.

When CW editor John Burnham first approached me about regular contributions to, I was initially reluctant. All computers come packaged in a soapbox, and there is no shortage of personal opinion and daily minutia out there. What exciting, interesting, and relevant content could I add, on a weekly basis no less?

Once started, however, I realize I should slip an envelope under his door with cut out newspaper words that plead, “sTOp mE BefoRe I wRite AGAiN!”

There is so much happening in our cruising world if only we have the time, interest, and eyes to see it. In any given nation, or even island or area within that nation, I could immerse myself (and anyone kind enough to read along) in the history, ethnology, geology, or natural history. That’s before the music, the dance, the arts and crafts, not to mention the exotic girls and amazing foods.


Then there is the environment. There are jungles, deserts, ice fields, mountains, rivers, atolls, and volcanoes. There are those gloriously rich reefs. Every time I pull on my mask and snorkel and jump into that ocean, I move several rungs down the food chain. It is a humbling yet exhilarating experience.

There are sharks, and crocodiles, and snakes, which naturally leads me to politics and politicians around the world.

Then last, but in no way least, there are our boats.


E. B. White wrote, “A small craft is not only beautiful; it is seductive and full of strange promise and a hint of trouble. It is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of Man. A home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than a fish, or a girl, and in which a homeowner can remove his daily affairs as far from shore as he has the nerve to. Close hauled or running free – parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive.”

Suspended and alive, with a hint of trouble– that is the free life afloat! And that is what I will try to bring you over the coming months as Diana and I make our way towards Kamchatka (Far East Russia) via New
Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, remote atolls in the Carolines, Guam, and Japan. If we make it that far, then there will be a winter in Alaska seeking for just once in my lifetime to sight a wolverine.

Our aged but beloved Halifax Of The North, an amazing cat with as many sea-miles as an admiral, will hopefully see out the entire journey. I hope the same for our 36-foot steel cutter Roger Henry and ourselves.


As we are already in Vanuatu, I will have to use a blend of the recent past and present to catch you up, a “Previously on 24” approach. I will be contributing regular features in Cruising World on the same areas (but not necessarily on the same subjects), so I hope this blog will complement those pieces, adding texture and information the magazine’s limited space does not allow.

The only other thing I must mention in this introduction, and I do so at the risk of sounding like Jimmy Carter, is to say I will not lie to you. So much of modern non-fiction writing is simply not non-fiction. There will be weeks were the truth is not quite as exciting a yarn as Tristan could spin. No back to back “survival storms” or last second Hollywood escapes (I hope).

But I believe by honestly adding up the long and lazy days with the bursts of way too much adventure, you will get a more accurate, but no less compelling view of cruising far a-field.


Thank you for logging on. Sail far, fast, and safely.

Alvah Simon
Port Vila, Vanuatu

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