Aweigh of Life is an account of my adventures in the South Pacific in the 1970s. I experienced doldrums, gales, and hurricanes (of course) along with many magical sailing days. I walked in the footsteps of Captain Cook and with the eyes of Gaugin. I “went bush” and lived in thatched huts and birthed my first child on a remote island in Papua New Guinea. On the pages, you’ll hear the sails slap, feel the salt spray in your face, and experience the island life as I experienced it in the ’70s, as well as learn of the history and culture of a time and place that has faded into a past long gone. Besides the adventures and challenges of sailing, little frayed pieces of my past are woven throughout, as I explore what broke the rope that set me adrift and aweigh of life, leading me onto the path of a wanderer.
“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.