Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi

When I was eighteen, I was embarking on the biggest adventure of my life thus far, heading to college, which was about an hour from where I had grown up.

When she was eighteen Tania Aebi began a circumnavigation of the world, embarking on an adventure that would take her 2 and a half years, and segue her into her adult life.

Whoa.

I just finished reading her book about the trip, called Maiden Voyage.  Whether you are into sailing or not, it is worth a read, just to see the power of adventure and feel the vastness of our world.  Ever since Drew and I have been together, we’ve talked about sailing…always in little increments.  First it was learning how to sail — which we’ve done in Marina del Rey, CA with a fantastic class from the Blue Pacific Boating folks.  Then, it was to charter a boat — just the two of us — which we’ve done in the BVI.  If that little adventure was just a taste of what we could have cruising, then sign me up.

Now, Tania did this all on her own.  She single-handed the whole trip, from New York down through the Caribbean, transiting the Panama canal, making the “puddle jump” across the Pacific to the Marquesas and the rest of the South Pacific, down to Australia, back up to Sri Lanka, then through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal into the Med, making her final landfall in Gibraltar and then crossing the Atlantic amid storms and squalls back to New York.  All by herself.  Well, with the help of a cat, named Tarzoon.

Whether you’re interested in sailing of any kind or not, this is a cool book.  It starts a little slow, because, like many books by journalists, she peppers the first few chapters with flashbacks to how she ended up in this place.  Her familial relations are sympathetic for anyone, and her father is a character himself.  (It’s his idea to have her do this, and every time she makes landfall somewhere, his first question when she calls is, “When do you leave?”)

But especially if you like sailing, this is probably a required read.  It’s the kind of book that makes you all that more determined to cruise someday, and to realize that unless you just DO it, it won’t ever happen.  Conditions will never be perfect, you’ll never have “enough” money — you just have to go.  I have yet to visit a cruising blog that doesn’t state that.

It’s true of any adventure, though, isn’t it?  You just have to do it.  You can’t wait for things to happen to you.  Oh yes, readers — the wheels are turning, and soon, very soon, I will make my adventure happen too.  And if I don’t, it will be no one’s fault but my own.   But I’ll settle for less that a complete circumnavigation — maybe just Mexico someday, or Mexico to the South Pacific and back via Hawaii and Seattle. Or maybe even just living on a boat for awhile, do some small cruising on the weekends, just try it out.

Whatever I do, I don’t wish to just envy the adventures of others  — I want to have them as well.  And I’d like my little man to grow up with adventures already behind him, not just waiting on the horizon.  Other people are doing it — why not me?  If you’d like to see some of those other people, check out the blogs listed on the right under “Blogs I Read.” There’s also a great website, where most of these pictures came from, http://www.womenandcruising.com, which has tons of information and testimonials from the ladies who have been there or are there right now.

But, of course, the expert (which I am not) sums up everything I want to say about her book and about any kind of adventures, big or small, when she’s contemplating her return to “civilization” in the Atlantic.

I remembered back to the days before leaving New York, when I worried if I would ever adapt to life at sea on my own.  Having done it, I realized now how much more is possible.  But I could never have known had I not tried.

Now, in the same spot as I had been as a an eighteen-year-old setting off on her maiden voyage, scared and apprehensive of the future, I realized that the future wasn’t something to worry about.  If living at sea had taught me anything, it had revealed the importance of taking each new dawn in stride and doing the best that I could with whatever was presented.

And now, two last pictures that inspire me, and that I aspire to:

Tania now, during a circumnavigation with her two sons -- just the three of them.

Lin Pardey, a total hardcore cruiser, points to land from the boom. I daydream about being her in the picture at least once a day.

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