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ABOUT SUSAN

Susan Cole lying on a sailboat and reading.
Susan on Laughing Goat in 1998

Susan Cole has lived on or around sailboats for more than thirty years.

 

Susan was born in Cleveland, Ohio. In her twenties at work in Connecticut, Susan met John, a blond, blue-eyed whirlwind who dreamed of sailing around the world. She wanted to settle down, buy a house and have a family, but John talked her into living on a leaky, 1903 48-foot Fire Island ferryboat named XL. Instead of planting a garden, Susan was hunting down mice that scurried through the bilge.

 

XL sank. 

 

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Susan and John on Phaedrus in 1978


Next, Susan and John purchased a 50-foot 1920s Norwegian ketch that they named Phaedrus, after a character in a book they were reading, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Phaedrus was the main character's alter ego on a quest to find a higher quality of life, a quest that eventually drove him insane. Ten years of leaky decks pushed them to buy a house in Connecticut.


When their daughter, Kate, was seven, they left the quaint farmhouse behind and sailed to the Caribbean on an elegant, sturdy 43-foot Mason cutter, Laughing Goat. Inexperienced in long-distance sailing, they were terrified to sail in the dark. In each town where they stopped, Susan tried to stay. 

 

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 Susan and Kate on Laughing Goat in 1997


Throughout the three-year voyage, she questioned whether they should turn back as the sailing became scarier, and they ventured into more remote places. Their lively daughter drew inward, growing quieter by the day. Toward the end of this adventure, Susan took charge during a deadly hurricane in Guatemala while John was away on business, finally realizing her true capabilities and strengths on the sea.


Between sails, Susan earned a B.A. at Barnard College, an M.A. in Psychology at Columbia University, and, for many years, ran a successful market research firm in New York. She attends the Iowa Summer Writing Festival regularly. Her essays have appeared in Daily Palette (Iowa Review), r.kv.r.y quarterly, Mary, Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie, and Living Aboard.

 

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John and Elmo on Laughing Goat in 1998


John has passed away, but Susan's spirit of adventure lives on. Susan now lives in New Orleans with her cat, Ollie, and enjoys spending time on the Fly, a trail along the Mississippi River.  Kate has become a worldwide traveler who lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband and baby boy.