Lorrie Haight is a do-it-yourself type of gal.

The Long Beach, Wash., resident helped her now-husband, Harrison "Smitty" Smith, build a 53-foot motor sail boat that the couple took on an eight-year journey around the world.

Haight has written the story of their travels aboard the "Akvavit" (named after the national drink of Denmark; the word translates to "water of life"), and she published and hand-bound the book herself in November 2008.

On Saturday, at 1 p.m. the Cannery Pier Hotel's Union Fish conference room, she'll hold a signing event for her book, "Water of Life: Alaska to New Zealand."

The book is the first installment of a memoir recounting the years she and Smith spent sailing around the world on the boat they built from scratch in Stanwood, Wash.

The tale of their adventure is a mixture of Haight and Smith's love story, their travel journal and a lesson in fishing, boat building and sailing.

It takes them through Ilwaco, Wash., to San Francisco, San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, the Galapagos islands, French Polynesia and New Zealand.

But the book doesn't cover the couple's entire voyage.

Haight is working on a second book - and possibly a third one - detailing the final years of cruising through the tropics.

Her journey started when she moved from Seattle to southeast Alaska to work on a fishing boat, where she met Smith.

"I had to do something," she said. "I needed adventure. I needed something to happen in my life."

Alaska turned out to be just the ticket.

In 1983, Smith showed her his plans to build the boat while they were fishing in Alaska. In earlier years, Haight had left the fishing industry to go cruising with another man.

"I decided to build that boat to get her back," Smith said.

"It worked," said Haight.

It took 2.5 years of hard work to build the boat. In addition to helping with various aspects of the construction, Haight welded pieces of the boat herself.

"From a distance, no one could tell that a girl stood inside the waffle-stompers, dirty coveralls, heavy leather gloves and welding helmet," she wrote.

In April 1985, they launched "Akvavit" and went fishing for all of 26 days before deciding to go sailing instead.

The boat was 53 feet long and 17 feet wide. It had a king-size bed and television in the stateroom.

"We were totally self-contained," said Haight. "We had no other real estate. Everything we owned was with us."

In Seattle, their friends loaded them up with 70 pounds of charts that would guide them through the South Pacific. In 1986, they left San Diego and didn't return to the U.S. until eight years later.

While cruising, they fished for much of their food and lived off the interest from their savings.

They brought the boat back to Stanwood in 1994, and sold it to a fisherman a few years later.

"We almost didn't come back," said Haight. "We were fortunate enough to sail until we didn't want to do it anymore."

Ending the trip brought a new set of worries.

"We'd spent our entire relationship on a boat," said Haight. "We didn't know if it was possible to live on land."

After they sold the boat, they were on the market for a house, but they couldn't find anything they liked along the I-5 corridor.

Smith had enjoyed living in Southwest Washington once upon a time, so they put an ad in the Chinook Observer: House wanted.

They found one on four acres with a giant garden in Long Beach.

Haight's inspiration to write stemmed from tape recordings she took of Smith's many stories, and from handmade books published by Oregon author John Paul Barrett.

"Smitty has a knack of telling stories," said Haight. "He told the same stories to everyone we met. Over and over and over. I decided I wanted to save his stories for his children."

Haight has written five other self-published books, three of which focus on Smith's stories, one about her own experience commercial fishing and one book of poetry that she and Smith wrote jointly.

To make the books, Haight prints her own pages off the computer and makes copies at LazerQuick. She binds the books by sewing 20-pages into individual booklets, gathering them into a book press and adding binding with glue. The covers are picture matting wrapped in fabric with silk-screened cover art. She calls the process "extreme self-publishing"; she named her publishing house Floating Press.

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