Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Last Night in Key West

June 13, 2016

I’ve always had a fascination with the sea. This might be the result of an atavistic connection with my seafaring ancestors from the Azores, but I get crabby if I go too long without smelling ocean spray or seeing the unfettered horizon. Whenever I vacation at a coastal destination I make an effort to be on the water. I love sailing ships and once had an opportunity to sail on a schooner built in the 1800s, the very ship used in the 1937 film Captain’s Courageous. It was awesome walking the same deck as Spencer Tracy, Freddie Bartholomew, John Carradine, Mickey Rooney and Lionel Barrymore.


Mrs. Chatterbox and I booked a sunset dinner cruise for our last night in Key West. We weren’t able to book an actual sailing ship, and didn’t encounter the colorful sunset we’d hoped for, but we had a great time listening to local music, drinking rum and watching sailing ships ferrying people past the coral reefs to catch a glimpse of the sun disappearing behind a bank of clouds.



A fun bar where we waited for our boat.




Our noble vessel.



A few more pictures:




Local music.

















The next day we flew home to Portland. It rained the day of our return but by evening when Mount Hood came into view the clouds were scattering and the sky was a burst of crimson and violet. Our plane followed the Columbia River as it cut through forests tinged with purple and gold. Portland never looked prettier.




As always, it felt good returning home. 



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Well of course you like the ocean. You live so close to it in real life.
By: Michael Offutt on June 13, 2016
That's quite a sunset ... and quite a bar!
By: Tom Sightings on June 13, 2016
Nothing like a dinner cruise! We've taken several lunch cruises, but need to take one in the evening sometime so we can catch the setting sun. Or on this side of the country, maybe a breakfast cruise would be better?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on June 13, 2016
You have taken some beautiful pictures. I love that older boat and how cool to be on the same boat as those great stars! You had a wonderful trip from what I have seen and read
By: Birgit on June 13, 2016
Your photos are beautiful. There's no place like home, though. So glad you had a good time. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 13, 2016
It sounds like a good time was had by all!!
By: fishducky on June 13, 2016
I love the water too. So happy to read you both had a grand time. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 13, 2016
The flying off into the sunset shot is gorgeous. Nice shot as well of the sailing ship passing the sunset. Do you like the sound of steel drums-they remind me of the tropics the moment I hear one.
By: Tom Cochrun on June 13, 2016
A lovely end to a fabulous vacation.
By: messymimi on June 13, 2016
Looks like you had a great time.
By: PT Dilloway on June 13, 2016
Yes, it's fun to go on a trip but it's also fun getting home again. Nice reporting on your visit to the Keys, Stephen.
By: Catalyst on June 13, 2016
Glad you had such a great time. I think I'll go look for some steel drum music now.
By: Pixel Peeper on June 13, 2016
Great photos of the sea and skies. Yes, it's always nice to be home.
By: red Kline on June 13, 2016
You ol' PARTY CAT!
By: Val on June 13, 2016
I REALLY like the final picture - the lines in the sky, clouds, plane, everything. Gorgeous!
By: Robyn Engel on June 13, 2016
We only spent about 5 hours in Key West off our cruise ship. I'd love to spend several days there. I might have to fall completely off the wagon to really appreciate the night scene.
By: cranky on June 14, 2016
quite a good vacation I say.
By: Ellen Abbott on June 14, 2016
You should be a tour guide. Your travels are always filled with things I would like to do. R
By: Rick Watson on June 16, 2016

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