Cast of Characters

 (Owner, captain and crew along the way – in alphabetical order)

My gratitude is special to the owner and crew who have set Raven’s Dance sails along the way: first to Donn Lassila, whose vision, commitment and generous financial support launched this adventure. And then warm thanks to my crew (even when it doesn’t read like that) , who have kept RD safe and challenged me to be a better sailor and captain.  It was a privilege to walk beside every one.  They are my teachers.
Captain Howard Edson  April 22016 (while heading north to Seattle)


0118_Tenacatita_3680Donn sails RD to windward

Donn Lassila (owner)
Donn is one of the brightest guys I’ve ever met. He has an almost perfect memory for numbers and a steel trap for everything else– including every nut and bolt on RD. It is a rare thing to have this much genius wrapped in a near-perfect gentleman. Successful in career, honorable in relationships, kind to the planet and masterful as the owner and sailor of Raven’s Dance.

He lives a high-income, high-pressure work life, and escapes to RD in various locations for a few days of sailing when he can. I can never make RD clean enough to meet his standards.


Thibault fixing Raven Dance’s sidelight on the way to La Paz

Thibault Aussourd (crew)
We met this polite and talented young Frenchman in Puerto Espiranto in April 2016, and he wanted to ride to La Paz with us. Following obtaining two master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and fluid dynamics, he rejected a successful jcareer start for the life of a world traveler and vagabond. He proved to be comfortable with himself, with an uncommon inquisitiveness, and the most pleasant of personalities. He contributed generously to crew duties and conversation. We honored him as “Mr. Fix-IT” for seeking out items to fix, and repairing them. I’m only sad he didn’t want to stay on board longer (he was going south and we were going north).

Cody plays the flute to RD

Jim Cody (crew)
Jim (aka Cody) was born in 1943 and raised in East Texas. His early career was in marketing and law, although he is vague about it. Presently he has a home in the mountains of Northern California, is married to his Japanese wife, and plays the flute. Jim is a kind soul and world traveler with a dream to do the Pacific Puddle, who is here to “live my dreams, and to help others live their dreams”.

It’s easy to know him as a caring friend, and troublesome to have him as crew. His memory is inconsistent, and he can no longer reliably remember a sequence of actions. He has a propensity to lecture me on how I can be a better captain, but is incapable of reciprocating on how he could be better crew.   I asked him how I could help him, and his answer was “lower your expectations.” No one in my family would ever think of such a thing.  But I tried it, and it made him more comfortable and improved our relationship (if not safety).


Howard III at the helm of RD

Howard Edson III   (crew)
What can I say objectively about my older son? He was born in California, schooled in NYU and U of Texas, and had an early career in the dot-com era in Austin, before moving to Seattle and hitting his stride.   His family and career get in the way of his sailing, properly so. But he is a good mariner and managed to join usfor a few precious days of sailing in the vicinity of Puerto Vallarta. I hope he can join us again.
He has no flaws as son, friend or crew — just a few quirks he picked up from me.


RD's stalwart captain and first mate
Howard and Jerry in San Diego

Jerry Fuller: (crew)
Jerry lives in Colorado, and I met him through a sailing friend and subsequently invited him aboard Raven’s Dance.  A likable, classy, grounded gentleman. He crewed on the 2016 Baja Ha-Ha from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. But threat of cancer prevented him from continuing further and in January he was operated on, successfully. He’s talented and joyful crew and friend, and we’d love to have him back aboard Raven’s Dance one of these days.

(l to rt)  Al, Howard, Jerry in Poulsbo, WA

Al Knesal (crew)
Al is a big, strong man with a equally big heart. He is a complex introvert who may have the broadest range of knowledge of anyone I know and only speaks when he has something to say. He grew up in Washington and Oregon, sailing on the Columbia River and makes a living in construction, with a specialty in accessory dwelling units (ADU). He is always traveling somewhere, and I once called him a “bon vivant” for his zest for living – a label he deserves but instantly rejected.

Al jointed us at the beginning of the adventure in Seattle.  Unfortunately he became seriously ill (not due to seasickness), and we prudently stopped in Westport, WA to offload him. He spent several subsequent days in the hospital. He is welcome to sail on with us again.

Bill stowing provisions

Bill Payne (crew)
Bill lives with his wife of 21 years (he thinks that’s the number) and is the owner of BLISS sailing school in Osaka, Japan  and his own boat.  He is a thoughtful and considerate wise old man, and we both have “ancient mariner” hats and parallel lives. He joined us in Ixtapa for a few days of sailing. It is not possible to have a more gentle, collaborative crew member on board.


(l to rt)  Lisa, Howard, Siggy in Turtle Bay

Siggie Lyngoy (crew)
Siggy is a Norseman and retired dentist turned real estate magnate who joined us in Cabo San Lucas to gain offshore sailing experience. He was inquisitive, capable crew, and it was always a joy to sit across the cockpit and converse. He intended to sail to San Diego, but when it became apparent that we would be pinned down in Turtle Bay for a week, he and Lisa chose to jump ship together.   Goodbyes were amicable, and I wonder if I’ll see him again.


0306_IslaIsabella_6389-1Bob on Isla Isabella

Bob Moroney (crew)
When we met, Bob was in transition from a 20+ year career in hotel management in Vail, CO. He had never sailed and wanted to know if it was in his future. He was wonderfully responsive, careful crew and immediately took to the sailing life.   We also chatted through the night about being a “seeker”, and about life and loves. His time on board was cut short by a death in his extended family.   Perhaps he’ll be on board again.

Lisa and Chris watch the start of the 2015 Baja Ha-Ha off San Diego

Chris Nasbet (crew)
I sailed with Chris for one day in Seattle and subsequently  invited her to crew on the 2016 Baja Ha-Ha. She accepted but it turned out that the sailing life was not for her. She felt trapped on RD for 10 days and blamed me for “overselling” the joys of sailing.  She got off RD in Cabo San Lucas as soon as possible, without even saying goodbye. I have not heard from her since.


Lisa in Yolapa

Lisa Sedwik (crew)
Lisa is a midwest girl, in her mid 40’s, whose “most important aspect of my life is family”. Her home is in Arizona but she lives as a free spirit, world traveler and adventurer. She is a FORCE: “how people read me and how I live my life are exactly the same — at full throttle. “Not all people love me, but I want them to”.   With a singular combination of exceptionally good looks and ebullient personality she easily lights up her audience and commands the center of attention. “Everyone is more introverted than me“.

She has visited 39 countries and is addicted to the next adventure. She is an exceptionally quick learner and dynamic story-teller.   She lives fiercely on her own self-centered terms, and drama swirls about her, and she can throw a mean tantrum to get her way. Planning is anathema to her spontaneous free spirit – making it troublesome to keep RD on a schedule. We are polar opposites — ironically bound deeply together by this sailing adventure.

l to r)  Deb, Rychelle, Janai ready for a swim
Debra and her “girls” in Puerto Vallarta

Debra Swain (crew)
Long-time friend from Colorado, Deb sailed with me for one week in Alaska. The near-perfect crew and the near-perfect companion. A loving Mom, expert skier, and talented musician and business-woman:   mature, fun-loving, and willing and capable of the myriad of crew functions. She and her two charming daughters spent a week on RD in Puerto Vallarta between Christmas and New Years 2016. And subsequently I wrote a blog entitled: “Please Don’t Go.”


David, Lisa and Howard in happy moments

David *** (crew)
We met David on the dock while Donn and I were doing some maintenance on RD in Barra Navidad.  He was looking for sailing experience., and I invited him to join us. He is retired in his sixties and comes to us with lots of boating but no sailing experience. He’s a willing and very quick learner, full of conversation and a desire to please.

Chinks in the armor include a masked insecurity .  Although married, he immediately hit on Lisa, and that got him invited off my boat.  We shook hands, and it was a gentlemanly, awkward goodbye.


Capt. Howard Sr. at the helm of RD

Howard Edson (captain):
“I feel I drew a lucky card when I was born”. My heritage is Connecticut Yankee, and Dad was the town doctor. I’m grateful for it, and also growing beyond it. My motley career included Princeton University, Vietnam-era veteran, Fortune 500 corporate positions, and management consulting. I love the combination of intellectual/experiential challenge of teaching flying and sailing, and leading personal growth workshops.   I got my pilot’s license at age 16 and came to sailing in my retirement years. I’m a young 76 because sailing keeps me fully alive.  I was born to teach:  logical, balanced and a a bit erudite in style. And I fight to keep my judgmental side (inherited from Dad) under wraps. Ask either of my two sons for a fuller explanation.