Boat Stories

Sunfish Sailing

I have owned a Sunfish since I was twelve years old. Sunfish are 14-foot mono-hull, mono-sail sailboats. As a child, when I could shake my sisters loose, I escaped on my Sunfish to recite my awful poetry or sing with no destination planned. These days, when I can shake responsibilities loose, I hoist my sails and let the wind take me anywhere. I taught my daughters rudimentary sailing skills. I have enjoyed the peace of a lone sail, the private company with a pal, and the challenge of only friendly regattas.

There are many Sunfish Stories in my repertoire. One of the best is one of the earliest.



My childhood backyard

My family home was a big colonial with a backyard bulkhead securing the Great South Bay. Fire Island was about four miles across the bay. My bedroom’s wall-length window faced the sunrises. I witnessed the fury and the calm of the bay and watched the moon shimmer a path on its surface through the night.

It was our first summer in the new house.  Sayville kids did not play Double Dutch Jumprope or Ring-O-Lievio like the kids at our previous Amityville home. They did play tether ball and SPUD, and many knew how to sail. My sister Mary, 10, and I, 11, took sailing lessons at Wet Pants, a neighborhood sailing club. We learned the names of boat and sail parts, how to tie knots, what to shout when changing a tact, and ducking before the boom flew across the boat.

I loved it!

The first Sunfish 1970

The following Christmas, my parents gifted the family a Sunfish. It laid on the back deck in the snow. The hull had a fiberglass patch and the sail was crispy white with a blue stripe. I couldn’t wait for summer. Dad built a manual lift to pick the Sunfish up off the dock, swing over the bulkhead and crank into the bay. Someone, usually me, unleashed the straps and swam the boat to a mooring marked by an empty Clorox bottle about ten yards from the dock. From there, the sails and mast were floated to the boat and rigged. Soon, the Sunfish was bobbing on the mooring, with its sail waving in the wind.

Mary and I were not skilled sailors, but my parents were content with the one season of lessons. It was just a matter of practice to get the hang of sailing. Practice involved horsing around in the bay with my younger sisters, Barbara, 8, Diana 10, and Mary, and the neighborhood girls, Irene and Kim. Kim had a Scorpion, named Upsie-Daisy, that was a foot longer than the Sunfish. We flipped boats, dragged each other behind sailboats, raced to and tried not to crash into the Blue Point Clam Company’s markers that were planted 100 yards from the bulkheads.  It was great practice.

Soon Mary, Irene, and I schemed a Sunfish adventure.  We could sail across the bay to Barrett Beach on Fire Island. On a clear day, the dunes were visible from my dock. During the week, mostly kids hung out at Barrett Beach. The ferry fare was cheap (fifty cents), and, with a concession stand, bathrooms, and life guards, it was the best playground for the tween-teen group. We could save the ferry fare for ice cream money.

Sunfish were designed to sail solo, but two could comfortably ride. Five girls, my three sisters, Irene, and I between 8-12 years old, pushed the limits.

Summer mornings usually brought calm wind and a flat bay. We stuffed our towels and wrapped salami sandwiches into a garbage bag. Mary and I rigged the sails at the mooring. Irene waded out with the garbage bag over her head. Diana and Barbara doggie paddled to the boat. There was no room for life jackets. With the garbage bag lashed to the mast and the main sheet pulled for the sail to catch the wind, Barbara, on her belly at the bow, unhooked us from the mooring. Mom and my six-year old brother, Billy, waved from the dock.

Along the way, Mary, Irene and I debated on the best tact to keep on course. Diana bailed the cockpit with a Clorox bottle cut in half. Barbara remained on her belly at the bow, holding onto the bow handle. I weaved around the clammers’ garveys as we approached the beach. It took an hour. Once on land, we pulled the Sunfish up onto the beach, wrapped the sails, took out our towels and sandwiches, and stuffed the empty garbage bag into the cockpit. We walked the boardwalk to the ocean side.

Barrett Beach photo by Lester Kiehn

It was always a great day. We met friends, body surfed, collected shells, and buried one or more of us in the sand. First efforts with flirting were unsuccessful. Transistor radios blared, and no matter where you walked, Coppertone and baby oil scents waft. Ice cream tasted better at the beach. Although it seemed like unbridled freedom, we did stick to a few rules; swim in the life guard area, watch Barbara, be home by 4:00.

In the afternoons, the wind was usually stronger. The bay whipped to a frenzy. Mary and Irene took turns holding the mainsheet to control the sails. Diana furiously bailed. Barbara gripped the bow handle whooping at the sight of oncoming waves, sputtering out the bay. We were almost flying. The ride took less than 40 minutes.

Mom was ready at the lift with Billy at her side. At the mooring, the sail and mast were taken down. Irene floated them to the dock.  Diana and Barbara doggie paddled behind her. Mary and I pulled the boat to place the lift straps. The waves ricocheted off the bulkhead threatening to crush the hull and our bodies.  Mom shouted, “You are going to crack your heads open!” We never did.

We rinsed the sails, boat, and our bodies with the garden hose. The soggy towels were left to dry on the deck chairs. Great fun.


Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer.The memoir chronicles a wimpy patient’s  journey through her first year with cancer. It is published by She Writes Press and will be available everywhere books are sold on October 3, 2017.

Pre-Order Now at       Barnes and Noble


Another 5-Star Review

Another glowing review affirming the literary merits of Hug Everyone You Know (whew!). Thank you Kathleen Pooler for your time and care in reading,reviewing, and posting on Goodreads.

“As a cancer survivor, I found Antoinette Truglio Martin’s memoir, Hug Everyone You Know, to be a heartfelt, honest account of the importance of a community of family and friends in facing a cancer diagnosis. With a voice filled with honesty and humor she portrayed a resilient, feisty woman who met her challenges head-on and sought the support of her community.

As a nurse practitioner, it reinforced both how each individual responds to the cancer journey in their own unique manner and the value of respecting these individual differences in supporting the patient as a caregiver.

The topic of breast cancer is certainly a relevant one and in sharing her story in such a vivid and passionate way, Martin has delivered a valuable resource for both cancer patients and caregivers.

While the topic was compelling, it was her voice—refreshing and real– that kept me turning the pages. As a reader, she pulled me into her inner circle and kept me there until the end.

I highly recommend this well-crafted memoir with a powerful message of hope for anyone on a cancer journey.”

Check out Kathleen’s webpage and blog, Memoir Writer’s Journey. It is chuck full of interesting and inspiring essays.


Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The book is published by She Writes Press and will be available everywhere books are sold on October 3, 2017.

Pre-Order Now at            Barnes and Noble


A Little Verklempt

My first speaking event as an author and cancer survivor was yesterday for the Babes Against Breast Cancer (BABC) fund raiser at the Southward Ho Country Club (SHCC). Speaking is not my strong suit.  I tend to stumble over words and easily lose thoughts along the way. Talking about cancer; the cancer I am straddled with for the rest of my life, is even harder. Because of the emotional topic, I expected a catch in my voice and a tear or two. I become verklempt, and it might take a few moments to compose myself.

I practiced reading a short chapter, carefully pronouncing phonemes and pausing for punctuation. Index cards were sequenced to prompt the talk along.  I packed my tote bag the night before. My hair thankfully behaved as well as expected considering August’s humidity. I wore light makeup, a long skirt, and a white blouse.

My friend, Jan Gatta, had invited me even though my book, Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community Courage, and Cancer, was not yet launched. I brought galley book copies to browse through, collateral materials as giveaways, and donated $2 to the American Cancer Society (ACS) for each pre-ordered book.

The BABC fund raiser committee decorated the SHCC’s sunny room in cheery pink table-scapes and flower arrangements. There were raffles and products sold with proceeds going to the ACS fund. Lunch was delicious, the Babe Pink Drink refreshing, and the group dance was fun. I was overwhelmed by the incredible care, attention, and purpose that went into this event. I had a moment of verklempt just thinking about it. 

I walked to the podium clutching my book and index cards. I carefully read through the chapter and quickly conveyed that this cancer story was just one story in my lifetime of stories. Midway, I abandoned the index cards. I wanted to tell the ladies, all cheery and pretty in pink, that they were an important cog in defeating cancer. Fund raisers force awareness for research and clinical trials that brings a real cure closer. It is the grassroot efforts of people, like the BABC, who make it possible for people like me to live well past our expiration dates and have a lifetime of stories. There were no verklempt moments.




Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The book is published by She Writes Press and will be available everywhere books are sold on October 3, 2017.

Pre-Order Now at                    Barnes and Noble        


The Country House

The Country House

by Antoinette Truglio Martin

American Venice was born of a land developer’s dream. He built homes on the Copiague’s marshland along the south shore of Long Island. A series of backyard canals led out to the Great South Bay. There were  Venetian-style bridges above the canals giving the neighborhood a European flare.

Unfortunately, the Great Depression doomed the developer’s dream. Fortunately, my grandfather and his brother-in-law, Uncle Billy, found a bargain.  They scraped together $400 and bought a little cottage with canal rights in American Venice, an hour’s drive from their Brooklyn home. It was called The Country House. It was 1942.

Truglios 1952

The Country House soon became the center of family summer activity. Family included tribes of brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and anyone else who was considered a relation.   My dad, his siblings and cousins hold their greatest childhood memories from summers at The Country House. They swam, fished, clammed, and rowed down the canals and into the bay. The house swelled with cots, singing, card games, and food.

The Country House remained the center of activity during my childhood. My family and Aunt Betty’s family lived nearby The Country House. Everyone else traveled from Brooklyn for days, weekends, or weeks. My grandma was always there.

The Country House had an opened floor plan. Tall bookshelves separated the eat-in-kitchen from the family room. The structure dared kids to climb to the top to “spy” on the grown-up card games and meals. The upstairs had three small bedrooms and a large foyer where most of the kids slept. It was very easy to climb out of the bedroom windows and hide on the ledge.

Front yard of The Country House  My parents and me 1958

During the week, while the dads worked, my mom and aunts rendezvous at The Country House. Cousins were everywhere! Kids ran and climbed in, out, through, and around the house and yard. There was always a toddler or two tagging along. We jumped through sprinklers, walked the picket fence and competed in shimmying up the flag pole that precariously swayed. We were free to run down the block to Uncle Tom’s house.  His shed was perfect to dive or belly flop off, into the canal. We fished for blowfish, netted crabs off the bulkhead and rowed down the canal. Sometimes our mothers would take us to the town beach or take a motorboat into the bay. Lunches consisted of bologna sandwiches and over ripe peaches or plum. If Grandma wasn’t cooking, she was sitting under the shady tree overhanging the flagstone patio, watching over her brood. There was always a small child loving wrapped in her arms.

Cousins 1973

On rainy days, when Grandma had had it with a dozen children racing up and down the stairs and climbing on bookshelves, she would hand out rolls of salami and wave her wooden spoon suggesting that we play charades.  Our charade games always turned into a ruckus and ended with Grandma shouting for us to play Scrabble, cards, anything to just quiet down. At last, she would relinquish and let us run out in the rain.

At night, Grandma cooked the fish we caught, and a dad would overcook a hamburger or hot dog on a charcoal grill. We’d play catch or Ringolevio until the fireflies came out. On Friday nights we invaded Carvel and came home with chocolate faces and a bag of flying saucers. Some nights the station wagons were packed with pillows and blankets. The kids would play at the Drive-In playground in pajamas before watching the cartoon that previewed before the main feature. Most of the kids would be asleep with popcorn scattered in the blankets by the time the movie started.

One night a season, we would drive out to Jones Beach. We dressed in our best summer clothes. All the kids, moms, and dads, as well as Aunt Kate, who could not hear but enjoyed being in the happy company, came to see Guy Lombardo’s chug to the outdoor theater in his mahogany speed boat. My dad and uncles marveled at the boat’s bright work and “classic lines.” Guy Lombardo arrived dry and dressed in his tuxedo, welcomed us all to the show, and lead the orchestra. We saw beautiful musical productions such as South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.

Summers were full of long, playful, salty days and sweet loving nights in the company of my abundant family.

Time marched forward and our lives steered us in different paths.  Most of Grandma’s contemporaries no longer traveled or had passed on. Grandma rented the Country House and moved from Brooklyn to Sayville, a Long Island suburb, to be closer to her children, grandchildren, and her bonus—great-grandchildren.

In 1982, my husband, Matt, and I moved back home to Long Island after living in Pennsylvania.  Grandma offered to sell us The Country House. I was so excited to think of starting a family in such a happy place. I couldn’t wait to show my husband.

The windows, walls, electric, plumbing—everything needed replacement. The flag pole was missing, the patio was torn up, and cesspool problems were obvious. Everything seemed so small. It was not The Country House of my childhood. Sadly, we passed on Grandma’s offer.

The Country Hose remains a wonderful memory. It was the place filled the definition of family, fun, and love. It could have been anywhere—a cottage near a lake, a farmhouse, a duplex in Queens. Location did not matter.  What filled that little house mattered—folks who truly enjoyed each other’s company, the meals shared, the stories told, the children’s play, the simple fun. I may never be able to sit under the shade of that old climbing tree to wrap my arms around my children and grandchildren, but I was able to recreate that love-wrap in my own backyard.




Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year with cancer. 

Pre-order now at



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Good news, everyone.  My very first Goodreads giveaway begins this Friday, July 14th and will end on August 14.  Enter to win a Hug Everyone You Know ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). You may be one of the first lucky readers before the book is officially launched!  Good Luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway Widget



Hug Pack-Kits Are Here!

Huh? What is a Hug Pack-Kit

Hug Pack-Kits

A Hug Pack-Kit is a swag-bag for my Hug Everyone You Know valued fans to share with their ten best friends. Each kit contains a promotional pin and ten self-addressed-stamped-envelopes stuffed with a friendly letter, a Hug Everyone You Know postcard, bookmark, page hugger, and my business card. The material features the high praise book reviews, contact information, book release date (October 3rd!), and pre-order links. All the valued fans have to do is sign the friendly letter, address the envelopes, and pop everything into a mailbox. The pin is a thank you token just for the valued fan.

The idea of the Hug Pack-Kit came from my creative publicists, Caitlin Hamilton and Rick Summie (I came up with  the catchy name). The kit is a promotional campaign for my book, Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. I have learned  that every successful book needs a promotional and marketing program to stir the energy and provide direction for the upcoming publication. It is  a steady stream of cultivating contacts, content writing, and enthusiasm so by the time the debut rolls around, the book buzz is at a frenzied level and  everyone needs to read the book.

Page hugger; such a cleaver bookmark!


Who wants to be a valued fan and be part of the energy and enthusiasm? I have 20 Hug Pack-Its to give away.  Please email me ( your name and address to receive your Hug Pack-Kit.





Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year with cancer. 

Pre-order now at             



A 5-Star Review

My first 5-Star review came in from Readers’ Favorite .   Readers’ Favorite is a fastest growing book review and award contest site. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers such as Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. It is an honor to recognized as a 5-Star author. And I get to put a sticker on my book!

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite 
Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer by Antoinette Truglio Martin is a heartwarming memoir that follows a woman’s struggle to cope with breast cancer. Antoinette Martin had always thought she was a healthy and strong woman until the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her world would crumble as she went through the denial phase to sheer stupefaction, through anxiety to embracing the reality. The long hours of waiting at the clinic that seemed like forever, the solitude that enveloped her in the dire hours of the night, and the sense of  fear about the painful reality are things that Martin learned to deal with. But how does one wake up from a nightmare like  breast cancer?

For Antoinette Truglio Martin, the answer was in her community —her family, friends, and close “everyone.” In this memoir, she documents how staying connected with the people in her life helped her to find the courage to embrace her reality and to
transform it into a life-giving experience. Here is a book that will bring tears to the eyes of readers — tears of pain and empathy, but also tears of joy at contemplating the wellsprings of life that are hidden within us, waiting to burst forth through our experience of pain. Antoinette Truglio Martin writes with natural humor and readers will find a lot of encouragement and hope in her writing.This book will show readers the power of human connectivity and how sharing our experience can become an inspiring journey, not only for those who listen to us, but for us who live it.

Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer is a painful and empowering journey, a book that will speak to those undergoing any hopeless situation; it’s a gift to receive, use and pass on. This book will give readers the strength and the inspiration to name their suffering and to triumph over it. It’s exciting, informative and, above all, entertaining.



Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year with cancer. 


 Pre-Order now at