Sausalito artist, retired clinical psychologist, and now author Barbara Sapienza has written a novel, Anchor Out. A book launch and reading will be held at Sausalito Book Passage by the Bay on April 22 at 4 p.m.
Anchor Out is the story of Frances Pia del Aqua, (which means Pious Frances of the Water in Italian), a sixty-year-old former nun who lives alone on a thirty-foot sailboat anchored near Sausalito. There, she communes with the fog, sea lions, cormorants, and two sailor friends. She performs random acts of public defacement—painting drainpipes, public restrooms, and murals on the sides of houses—which she believes are beautification projects, and struggles with bouts of depression and mania. Through a series of wacky adventures, including with the cops and the sea, Frances opens her heart to love for the first time in years—and begins to really paint the town, redeeming and freeing herself from her guilt over the past.
A Sausalito resident for more than two decades, Barbara has always been fascinated by the waterfront community. She began writing the novel when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. “My fictionalized heroine appeared to me out of my ‘dark night of the soul,’ taking me to the water’s edge,” she said. She found herself contemplating the tides, the wind and the fog, and ultimately life and death.
Barbara, who has never lived on a sailboat, was aware of the controversy and admired the courage of those who make the sea their home.
I became mesmerized by the stories I heard from real anchor-outs who’d come in from their boats for coffee, telling me their stories of wild storms and currents, anchors pulling up, dinghies stolen or sunken. When I stare at the anchorage from my house on the hill I send out my blessings and gratitude.
Barbara, who enrolled in San Francisco State University’s creative writing graduate program at age 66, sees her creativity as a gift.
When I write or paint, I become one with the medium. Something sets in and I allow it to lead me, connecting me to myself. I feel in communion with something greater than my small self. Perhaps it is the Universe, the soul or a tree, nature, God, the sea.