I think it was 2006 when I met Bruce Balan. He and his then-girlfriend (now wife) Alene were cruising the Sea of Cortez on their big red tri, Migration, and just happened to have a nifty computer projector aboard that I could use for my talk on hurricane prep at LoretoFest that year. We crossed paths with Bruce, Alene and Migration a few more times that summer and then headed our separate ways as they headed off across the Pacific (they’re now in Thailand).
But in the time we spent together, I learned that Bruce had written a number of children’s books — quite good ones, in fact. One of them, Buoy: Home at Sea, particularly appeals to cruisers . . . and not just the kids. We’ve kept in touch over the years and I recently learned that Bruce re-released Buoy as an ebook. He kindly gave me a review copy as I hadn’t read it before — I mean, we don’t have kids at home, so why would I have read it?
I was captivated. Yes, technically it is a children’s book, but it’s one that adults will enjoy too. Sort of like the A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh and others) books or Jonathon Livingston Seagull, it’s a story simple enough for kids yet complex enough — and charming enough — to intrigue adults. It’s won a number of awards, but more than that, it’s just a perfect book for boating kids and those who are intrigued by grandparents’ (or other relatives’) lives afloat.
Buoy: Home at Sea is the story of a sea buoy and his life at sea — guiding the ships away from danger, a visit from a sailboat, a green flash and more. And Buoy has friends — a seagull and a seal — as anyone who’s passed one knows.
I see it as a great read-aloud book — 54 pages in 16 chapters that are each little slices of Buoy’s life with his friends in the sea. A couple of chapters each night under the stars, sitting in the cockpit, making a perfect end to a day afloat. Okay, I’ll admit it, after reading it myself, I read it a chapter at a time to Dave as we sat under the stars. He was captivated, too. Can’t wait to repeat it when the grandkids come to visit!
You can get a copy in print or ebook in a number of places (I’m sure I’m leaving many out):