Lin and Larry Pardey
by Jo Bailey and
he beautiful small yacht Seraffyn tugged gently at anchor in Friday Harbor, swirling a bit in the currents. Her owners, Lin and Larry Pardey, had sailed into the village after another ocean voyage. It was 1979.
I was surprised when I saw Seraffyn anchored and realized the Pardeys were in town. I was working as a reporter on the Friday Harbor Journal, living on my 29' sloop Sea Witch and writing a weekly boating column for the newspaper. Doing the only logical thing a boating writer could do, I hopped in my dinghy, rowed out to their boat, knocked on the hull and asked if I could interview them.
Somewhat surprised, they graciously invited me aboard this amazingly small, beautifully detailed, 24' 7" sailboat, designed by Lyle Hess. Every space was neatly used and the boat was outfitted with everything they needed to sail around the world, which they had been doing for about 10 years -- with no engine.
Small as she was, Seraffyn seemed to have so much more living and storage space than my Sea Witch. I remember how everything seemed so small (including Lin, who is 4'10" tall, compared with my 5'10"), and yet everything fit so perfectly. She discussed some of their cruising experiences in Seraffyn, her thick dark hair tumbling down past her shoulders.
I was delighted to meet them and wrote an article. Since then we have met briefly several times over the years, usually at Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festivals. I jumped at the opportunity to interview them once again.
To most sailors, the Pardeys have done it all: circumnavigated the world in small wood sailboats they built, without auxiliary engines; got married on the same day the first boat was launched in 1968, endured hurricanes, been to more exotic places in the world than most of us have even heard of, made friends with wonderful and intriguing "locals" in those countries, written books, been together for 40 years, and are still happily pursuing their dreams, "As long as it's fun!"
Lin and Larry Pardey are extraordinary yachtsmen. The love of their cruising life is contagious whenever they enthusiastically discuss their boats and their travels. There is much to learn from this couple who have accomplished so much together and have such a large amount of knowledge to share about boats and cruising the world. It's been 26 years since that first interview, and the Pardeys have sailed lovely Seraffyn over 47,000 miles. The world has changed remarkably in those years; the Pardeys have changed also, building a larger sailboat. Taleisin also is a Lyle Hess design, 29'6", with no auxiliary engine, but again with many custom ideas they built into it, making Taleisin uniquely comfortable and extremely practical. Taleisin was launched in 1983; the Welsh name means "Merry Wanderer," perfect for the Pardeys. They have sailed the boat over 80,000 miles. Both Seraffyn and Taleisin were built with infinite tender loving care and beautiful craftsmanship.
"Many things have changed over the years, but the sea hasn't," said Lin. "The ability to sail in a small boat hasn't, although the ability to get parts is now certainly easier."
"Early on most of the cruisers we met were mad about sailing, about the sheer excitement of being free. It was an adventure. "It's still a small world. Everyone's goal is to be safe and comfortable."
There's a difference now, Lin says. The excitement and the adventuresome spirit are no longer as apparent.
"There are those who are going for a lifestyle, about a way to go places, and they forget that sailing is exciting. There are more good products now, but that makes so much more to buy," said Lin.
"As an example, some feel that a watermaker is a 'must have' item for safety," said Larry. The less gear you have to put away the more likely you are to go cruising more often, they both say.
Lin and Larry agreed that people are spending more money to take their comforts along and then they just don't get around to cruising. People are more likely nowadays to spend too much money, buy too many things and lose their self-sufficiency. But there are good changes also, Lin said.
"Clearance procedures are now a lot easier, there are more industries for yachts, more yacht services, more information for cruisers. There are facilities in the Marquesas, there is laundry service and propane at many marinas. You can now get into Indonesia. But locked marinas make it harder to meet people.
"There are cruising rallies where a number of boats all go together to a rendezvous. The governments of some of the destinations like the rallies because they get more visiting boats," they said. But it does take away privacy and some people don't care to travel in groups.
"Thirty years ago communications as we know them today did not exist. Now communications let people with businesses take their work along. There's no longer the sense of absolute freedom. So while communication is great we think it has interfered with the excitement of cruising," said Lin. "It's also harder to have personal experiences because there are so many people out there now. Nevertheless we do meet the same folks in our 'floating community' and we're often meeting their kids. It's really great to see families sailing.
"Cruisers often communicate with friends in ports, rather than taking time off, going ashore, spending some time meeting and getting to know the locals," said Lin.
"If you just go 20 miles off the beaten track you can go for weeks seeing no one, as we did in Bora Bora. That kind of experience is what cruising is all about, slowing down and taking time to meet and know the locals wherever you may be." They should know, they've done it.
"We spent 1-1/2 years in South Africa during elections, seven months in the Kalahari Desert, got to know Bushmen and 250 of their relatives, camped in a sculpture compound for three weeks, sailed into Brazil and met some fascinating fellow sailors, learned to tango in Argentina," said Lin.
Lin and Larry's descriptive writing and presentations make you feel you are there with them in their many adventures. "We sailed in the Round Britain two-handed race, the third from smallest boat in the race. We finished sixth on line after 2,200 miles of sailing. There were lots of headwinds but the boat sailed to weather very well," Larry said.
Nowadays the Pardeys say they're also meeting more retirees than they did early on. Their suggestion to those who plan to retire and go cruising is to retire now, or as soon as possible (you can always go back to work if you need to, they say) and start cruising. There's a lot to learn: navigation, sailing, seamanship and how to live afloat. It's much easier to learn to handle your boat in uncomfortable sea conditions sooner rather than later, while you're a bit younger and can move easier, sort of grow into the cruising life. Then it's not such a shock when bad weather or other conditions hit.
About the choice of a boat, they say, "Go simple, go modest, go small -- just go!"
They also note that cruisers should know maintenance takes time, an average of two days per week on the average 35' boat. "It can be done, it isn't always easy, but it's very necessary to keep your boat in top shape while cruising," Larry said. Your life depends on how well you maintain your boat.
Although some cruisers might disagree with engineless sailing because it could be difficult or perhaps affect safety in some instances, Pardeys have obviously managed it well since they purposely did not install engines in either Seraffyn or Taleisin and have sailed around the world and into many harbors in each boat.
As can be deduced from the size of their boats, they don't feel that bigger is necessarily better or more comfortable. "Comfort at sea is only relative. It is a boat you can handle alone in the worst conditions, one you can comfortably maintain in perfect condition with less than a month of maintenance a year, and one you can truly afford," they wrote in Cruising in Seraffyn.
The Pardeys now cruise the Pacific Northwest during northern summers, and cruise New Zealand during southern summers. "We're trying for endless summers," Lin says, obviously enjoying the idea of warm cruising.
The Pardeys now have their home base in New Zealand where they have another sailboat, wood, of course. Thelma is a 37' gaff-rigged cutter that is 110 years old, with 95 percent of the original hull. Designed and built by C and W. Bailey in 1895, the boat has been in commission for 100 years. Pardeys have upgraded Thelma, cruised her and raced her to second in division, 2005 International Classics Regatta in Auckland.
When they first started cruising Seraffyn in 1968 they were asked, "How long are you going for?"
"As long as it's fun!" they replied.
The Pardeys emphasize the most important component to enjoyable and safe cruising is having a good partner, which they each have. Cruising still offers challenges and magic to the couple -- they're still having fun.
Jo Bailey and Carl Nyberg are authors of Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands, a Comprehensive Cruising Guide Encompassing Deception Pass to the Canadian Boundary, and Gunkholing in South Puget Sound, from Kingston-Edmonds South to Olympia.
Both books are available at 48° North, 206.789.7350, book stores and chandleries. Jo and Carl can be reached at 206-323-1315, or at firstname.lastname@example.org, for slide show presentations of the Northwest.
Books, DVDs & CDs by Lin & Larry Pardey
From their vast experience with yacht design, construction, racing and cruising under sail together the Pardeys background is ideal for their various publications. They have written 10 books, filmed five videos and three DVDs, plus written numerous articles for worldwide sailing and cruising magazines. In these publications they provide superbly practical and innovative solutions to various problems on board, including spares, storage, repairs, wind vanes, maintenance, sails, keeping warm and dry, cooking, sun protection, weather and a multitude of other subjects that have made completion of their nearly 150,000 miles of world wide ocean cruising together possible.
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