Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Pied Pipers of Newport Beach

Thanks to O Docker for this entry in our Group Writing Project, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

They've launched more ships than Helen of Troy. They may have been the original sailing bloggers, years before blogs were invented.

Their voyages weren't the fastest or the farthest or the first of their kind, but their words would inspire thousands.

They have an infectious, down-to-earth way of convincing us that, no matter who we are, we can follow our dreams out to sea. But when they set out 40 years ago, few would have imagined the size of the fleet that would follow the wake of Lin and Larry Pardey. Their lamps were kerosene, their engine was a wooden oar, their navigation was by the stars, but they were out there doing it, while most of us were not. They'd made good their escape.

The young couple in their early photos hardly resembles the graying pair still signing books in harbors around the world, but they're still getting around that world in the little boat they built with their bare hands.

I was lucky enough to see that boat a few years ago. It was open for tours while they were speaking at a boat show. It sat in a marina surrounded by the latest zillion dollar floating plastic marvels, but was the only one that had a line in front of it stretching all the way down the dock. The faithful had come to Mecca. It's really more a work of art and of love than a boat. And when any part of it needs replacing, Larry doesn't go to West Marine, he just makes a new part. He didn't build the boat from a kit. He started with trees.

There's no need to tell the Pardeys' story here - they've already done that far better than I ever could. And most who are passionate about sailing have read at least one of their books.

They'd probably ask me to dinner before I had a chance to ask them. That's just their way. Cruisers tell of chance encounters with them in remote anchorages or at the Pardeys' own New Zealand dock and of their warmth and graciousness and energy and humor and joy.

Some day, I'll make it to that dock.


Anonymous said...

Great choice.

You say their voyages weren't the "first of their kind" but, on their website, Lin and Larry do claim two records...

1. Smallest boat to have circumnavigated contrary to the prevailing winds around all the great southern capes.

2. Only couple to have circumnavigated both east-about and west-about on boats they built themselves, using traditional means of navigation and having no engine.

O Docker said...

Thanks for that - it's been a while since I've read their stuff.

A thousand things they've done just impress the heck out of me. I spent over a month trying to make some new hatchboards and made a mess of it.

But a whole boat? Out of wood?

And what a boat!

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