Copyright (c) Marc Dacey/Dark Star Media unless otherwise indicated. Above photo (c) Marc Dacey. Powered by Blogger.


Pardey like it's 2014

Aside from updates on boat modifications, and occasional foaming jeremiads only tangentially related to things nautical, like how the future will be paid for (hint: you're on the hook!), this blog doesn't contain much in the way of hard news. 

As long as it doesn't say Alchemy, I don't want to know.
Nor should it. We're trying to get away from that sort of thing, eventually. If such quasi-buggywhips such as shortwave radio persist into the latter part of this decade, the BBC World Service (my own country gave up) and whatever we hear on the cruiser nets, plus the odd bit of news cruising via poached Wi-Fi will suffice. And then some: Short of needing to know if some country directly in front of us is having a revolution or a volcano, I am determined to break my lifelong news junkie habit and to spend more time with the 500 mb chart than with the headlines.

Journalism of various stripes (ribbons?) does exist in my background, however, and I would be remiss if I did not pass on what I suspect many in the Southern Ontario sailboating community would consider a hot tip.

This is the first image produced when you put the search term "sailor with a secret" into Google.

 Seems perhaps a little off-topic, but hey, I don't make the rules.

Here's the news:  Larry and Lin Pardey are going to be at the 2014 Toronto International Boat Show.

A lot of people know these two. Photo Latitude / LaDonna © 2013 Latitude 38 Publishing, LLC
I got this tip from the nice folks at Nautical Mind Bookstore here in Toronto. The Pardeys will apparently be signing their many books (and probably their DVDs, too) at the Nautical Mind booth during the boat show, guaranteeing that the place will be a total zoo.

Why? It's simple: the Pardeys are as close to rock stars as the cruising world can produce. If you've cruised in the last quarter-century, you've heard of this veteran cruising couple, who have been "living the dream" by financing their travels (as far as can be discerned) since 1968 via the constant production of books, sailing magazine articles and instructional DVDs. Their oft-quoted motto of "go simple, go small, and go now!" has inspired...and occasionally infuriated...many an aspirational cruiser.
What simple and small looks like whilst going. (c)

The inspirational part comes from the fact that they are both extremely resourceful, not overly desirious of modern conveniences, or even old-timey shortcuts, and seem skilled in all trades needed to turn small, antique boats into safe and capable ocean crossers. Or to build or rebuild same. The infuriating part is that very, very few people want to cruise in a similar "sail like its 1899" fashion, being quite fond of auxiliary propulsion (Larry favours sculling oars), electric light (the Pardey vessels sport oil lamps) and interior space that surpasses that of a Tokyo student's dorm room.

Of course, that is the secret of their sustainability right there: If I was a shipwright and was capable of lashing, splicing, sewing and fabrication most of my boat from salvaged wood, wire and canvas, I could go world cruising tomorrow (I'd have to learn to pickle veggies, I think, as well). I have a (mostly) perfectly seaworthy 33 footer capable of handling ocean sailing. We could literally leave tomorrow..ok, Monday. But it would be brutal, the paucity of stowage, plumbing, cooking and cooling capacity would make a Spartan turn pale with its level of privation, and it wouldn't be particularly safe, what with the worn anti-skid, the somewhat slack lifelines and the total absence of EPIRB and liferaft. Hence, this rigamarole, blog, steel cutter and so on. I, and the family unit as a whole, have a minimum set of requirements (including an engine and electricity and enough space to stay sane in) that exceed that of the Pardeys, who truly seem to thrive in unassisted, inconvenient, woody splendour.

The Pardeys'  29' 9" Taliesin, arguably the boat that brought them fame

Unlike sailboat racers, where the heroes are tied clearly to results involving speed and endurance, the qualfications for "heroic cruising" are more nebulous: people who go in sailboats, unassisted, to the Arctic or Antarctica are admired for their seamanship, certainly, but they are in a minority of people who wish to do such a thing, and are furthermore in a minority of people with the acumen to pull it off without becoming part of the food chain

"Heroic cruising" seems to be related to the speed at which one can stop living a soul-sucking wage slave existence, and actually go sailing, and is also linked to the endurance required to keep that cruising going until age, enfeeblement or penury led to an inevitable shoreside clog-popping..but at least you went!

The Pardeys' latest ride is the comparatively luxurious 37-foot 120-year-old Thelma. Might need bigger oars, Larry.

By that standard, the Pardeys are certainly heroic, even if very, very few cruisers seem to love cruising to the extent that they will forgo a lot of the more current creature comforts to see the world from a small, wooden sailboat. I find them both anarchronistic and futuristic at the same time, frankly: they leave a very modern "small wake" in their travels, and yet seem quite canny at this whole Internet, publishing, DVD production thing. I've personally found some of their books on storm tactics and boat maintenance illuminating; they've always made me reconsider how damned resourceful you are going to have to be if you want to run away to sea.

Because they sail old boats and "do without", Larry and Lin Pardey are seen by some cruisers as very old-fashioned, a sort of salty version of the Amish, determined to keep through personal example the knowledge of the words "fid" and "raffee" alive. But I do not see then as being Luddites or technology rejectionists by any means: if you can continue to pay for your sailing adventures by taking digital footage of the several types of line whipping needed on a boat with manila halyards...well, the Pardeys will oblige. Like the post-war cruisers that inspired them, they've made a virtue of a simplicity that was likely enforced at first by circumstance, and now is maintained by choice. 

Man, it's gonna be a zoo.

No comments: