Longtime tour operator Burbank publishes its first book

Decades from now, scholars of literature might ponder an interesting cultural issue: Why were so many memoirs written in the early 2020s?

If they come across “Interior Waypoints: Sailing to Colombia” by writer Homer Scott Burbank (July 2022), they might get an answer.

Like many adventurers stuck in faraway places at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Burbank seized the gift of time to write a long-planned memoir about six years of sailing and travel adventures in the Caribbean and South America.

For about 25 years, Burbank, 71, and his wife, Susan Aramovich, ran St. Augustine’s Kayak and Tours from Peterson Bay, including a summer contract offering kayak tours for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies at his Peterson Bay Station.

They originally had a cabin near McNeil Canyon, but later sold it and built their kayak camp in Peterson Bay.

Burbank grew up in Maine, where he came to love camping, boating and sailing. He and Aramovich both came to Homer in 1979, meeting soon after arriving, and were among the first water taxis and tour operators who helped make ecotourism a viable business centered around the state park. of Kachemak Bay.

“Coming to Alaska was a good decision for us, I think,” he said. “We had a rich life.”

Burbank and Aramovich have organized trips to the bay for more than 40 years, including sailing charters on their boat, St. Augustine’s Fire. Around the same time he took the sailboat up, he bought his first water taxi, an open skiff.

“The first water taxi I ran was two Saddle Trail teachers,” Burbank said, referring to one of the park’s most popular trails. “It was the only trail in the park. … It’s funny to see him again after all these years.

Once their business was launched, Burbank and Aramovich found they could take the winter to travel, and especially sail in tropical waters.

“This lifestyle of having a seasonal business has allowed us to travel a lot and sail to other parts of the world,” Burbank said. “…During the time we had to work, there were no vacations, no breaks, lots of hours. We had to earn this free time.

From about 2003, for six years, the couple sailed and traveled in the northwest Caribbean in the region of Central America and Colombia. While their sailing adventures form the backbone of the book, Burbank said much of it involves kayaking as well as overland travel.

“Interior Waypoints” also takes divergent paths as Burbank and Aramovich embarked on different adventures. It’s a travel plan that Burbank said he recommends, especially if for a long time you’ve been crammed into small boats and cabins.

“It was kind of fun,” Burbank said of the occasional trip. “It really enriched our time together. We had a certain independence; we had security coming back together and sharing.

From these six years of adventures were born “Interior Waypoints”.

“It was a particularly rich time,” Burbank said. “A lot of people told me I had to write the story. I think that’s how it happened.

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Burbank and Aramovich found themselves stuck in their Colombian mountain home near Bogota. Before the pandemic, the couple had a rich social life and traveled in the region. Then the lockdown happened.

“We couldn’t do any of that. It was a bit boring,” he said.

So Burbank started writing. He had had some previous experience, including an article published in Cruising World about sailing to Augustine Volcano in the winter of 1984 and the first descent on skis.

“It’s a lot of work to write a book. You have to stick to it,” he said. “I’m not the best at it sometimes.”

The pandemic got him started, and in the best two winters of their retreat in the Colombian mountains, Burbank finished the book.

“I noticed that I could write a lot more and improve as I went along,” he said.

Don’t expect artistic creative non-fiction for an MFA thesis. Burbank writes with a casual, lively style. He can learn a little about the details of single-handed sailing or repairing small boat engines that might appeal to someone looking for advice on cruising. It balances that with stories about the characters who live in off-road marinas and free moorings not frequented by billionaires in superyachts.

“That might resonate with a lot of people here who tend to be more adventurous than the average traveler,” Burbank said.

A traditional publisher cared about “inner waypoints,” but that would also mean they would have to do their own marketing and promotion. Burbank chose to publish through Amazon.

He said he found that independent bookstores — the stores most likely to sell his book — prefer other self-publishing companies like Ingram Spark and can turn to that platform.

Burbank had help from her friends, writers Mei Mei Evans and Marilyn Sigman; his sister-in-law Marsha Spector; and part-time Colombian resident Mary Day Kent.

Artist Homer Oceana Wills provided the cover illustration. Locally, “Interior Waypoints” can be found at the Homer Bookstore.

Initial response was favorable, Burbank said, with the Homer Bookstore selling quite a few copies, he said. A British yachting magazine also made a review.

Burbank and Aramovich have since sold their Peterson Bay property and business, including all of their kayaks during the pandemic summer of 2020 when everyone wanted outdoor gear. They now live in a small house on Kachemak Drive where they don’t have to worry about running a summer business.

“We’re happy not to,” Burbank said. “You only have to go fishing and pick berries and have a big harvest to forget how much it rains.”

Contact Michael Armstrong at [email protected]

Susan Aramovich relaxes in her kayak on a tropical beach in this photo from Scott Burbank’s “Interior Waypoints.” (Photo provided)

An undated photo of Scott Burbank sailing from his book

An undated photo of Scott Burbank sailing from his book ‘Interior Waypoints’. (Photo provided)