Aweigh of Life – A Memoir and Travel Tales of Seven Years in the South Pacific

Aweigh of Life is … a moving and insightful tale of one woman’s unique experiences of sailing and living in the South Pacific during the 1970s – giving birth to her first child on a remote island in Papua New Guinea; going “bush” in New Zealand. It’s a sailing adventure replete with gales and hurricanes as well as a cultural, historical, and geographical journey of a time and place lost, interlaced with exquisite descriptions of the beauty and lifestyle of the peoples of Oceania. With the hindsight of wisdom and self-reflection, it’s a very personal exploration of what caused her to be aweigh of life.  A fascinating and intimate page-turner, it’s so much more than a travelogue.

I was never tethered tightly to my family body, nor was I brought close in for nurturing and protection. I felt I was not an essential thing to protect. As a young child, I was tied by a thin string which broke again and again. I tugged hard so they’d know my strength, and they’d see my accomplishments. “Am I good enough now?” Seeing my demands not as a need for recognition but as rebellion, they tied thicker ropes with stronger knots made of stricter rules. But they too frayed quickly, eaten away by the acid anger of an unhappy family. I drifted from home because there was nothing to hold me, and when I was far enough away, I pulled the anchor up completely and stowed it deep inside to put down only if or when I found safe harbor.

Anchor aweigh, I touched that exhilarating freedom of deep waters. I ceased to look for safe harbor. I sought out the storms and mountains, any challenge that proved that I could survive without “them,” an ever-broadening pronoun. I changed course, changed boats – just as tides turned and winds shifted – like moods, changing hour by hour, day by day, leaving flotsam floating on receding horizons, never thinking that they would be the pieces I’d gather up one day to find my way home and the reason I left.

“For seven years, I sailed the South Pacific, lived in thatched huts, experienced cultures less touched by civilization, and gave birth to my first child on an island of grass-skirted, betelnut-chewing, bare-breasted peoples. Though it’s only several yards cut from the bolt of my life, the fabric of who I am 50 years later is woven from the threads of that journey. Reconstructing the journey before it’s too worn to repair in my memory, I offer this fabric for you to experience its pattern, its colors, and to feel its texture, its warmth, its roughness, its softness, its wetness, its courage, its blindness, its self-deception, and its excitement.

So, welcome, welcome. Climb aboard and sail away with me, but hold onto your LaZBoy recliner as I bring these seven years of adventures alive for you.