Thursday, 27 September 2007

Credit where its due...

Cruising is something I have wanted to do for a VERY long time . I remember reading Rosie Swale's book 'Rosie Darling' and being captivated by the adventurous and alternative lifestyle, that was back in 1973. I was just 17. My dreams were of wide oceans and free spirits. Not a lot of that to be found at a North London academic hothouse.

I don't think it was the sailing that appealed so much as the traveling and the lack of commitment to a 'regular' lifestyle. Anyway the dreams continued and mostly got swallowed up in the details of a very ordinary life. Maybe I just didn't want it that badly.

What I have done over the years is read avidly, always with my nose in a book, I started to gather information on my chosen subject. I believed that if I wanted something hard enough eventually I would get it, it usually works.....and it did this time too! Just took a little longer than I had expected!

So I'd like to pay homage to the writers and other dreamers who helped keep my thirst alive.
Lynne and Larry Pardey, one of the original bluewater writers. Their way of life certainly isn't for everyone,wooden boat, no engine(initially). For years I wondered how they lived so comfortably on a 24' boat, then I realised they are TINY PEOPLE! No wonder it worked.
Their books can be somewhat anal(!), but as I have sailed further and longer I recognize the sheer weight of experience that they bring to their writing and the just basic, sound commonsense that they use.

Hal and Margaret Roth, this couple remain my all time favourites, Hal does the writing, beautifully, and you can hear Margaret's voice hidden in the details. The elegant, intelligent descriptions of anchoring techniques in 'After 50,000 miles' and 'How to sail around the world' put so much into context for me personally.

Annie Hill, her book 'Voyaging on a small income' was a definitive moment for me, as for many other dreamers! It WAS possible to do all this without megabucks and look, here was somebody out there DOING IT! Hints and tips from food to furling and all written in her own particular style.
Just a couple of years ago we were alone in a beautiful anchorage in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama when in sailed a neat gaff rigged steel boat, it was Annie and Trevor her partner.....I was overcome with hero worship.

We got to know them and I don't think Annie realized what she did for me over the few days that we spent together. As she spoke of her fears and loves I understood that it was OKAY to be afraid of some things on the boat! The past year had been difficult for me thinking that I did not have the gungho attitude of say, the Smeetons.I was having a crisis of confidence in both myself and our boat. But as I nattered away with Annie I felt my confidence grow, it was alright, I was normal!!! Oh Annie you have no idea what a difference you have made to my life- bring it on!

John Seymour's book 'The complete guide to self-sufficiency' whilst not at all marine based has been an important part of my library since it was first published back in the 70's. Filled with knowledge of preserving foods, making beer, building windmills, all on a Welsh hillside mind you! I still faithfully carry a copy on board, just in case we wash up ashore one of these days!

Martin Northey
was the guy who started to bring my dreams a little closer to reality. We found him through a small ad in the back of one of the yachting comics advertising off season sailing courses in the Algarve, Portugal. He cleaned up our rusty skills, taught us to Yachtmaster level, found us our wonderful boat and most of all believed in us, he knew we could do it!

The website of John and Amanda Neal has been interesting to follow. They teach offshore sailing on board their Hallbery Rassy and have tons of experience. Amanda's monthly cookery column is always worth catching up with.

There have been many other things, books-titles long forgotten, chance meetings with capable people, the poetry of dreamers but I cannot close this post without mentioning TBH(the better half). He made it all possible. Finally a life partner who shared my desire for adventure, and he was practical too.

As Libby Purvis, a writer in Yachting Monthly and The Times, said in one of her columns, "I'd rather have a man who can unblock the heads than a Yachtmaster on board!"
Well here, here Libby. Couldn't agree more. TBH stays calm when I panic, comforts me when I am afraid, climbs to the top of the mast, mends the engine( and the heads) and is always on the look out for the next excitement. I couldn't do it without him xx!

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