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Crazy Rosie Swale Pope made me buy a sailboat. Crazy in a good way of course; she is my hero.
The woman gave birth to her first child on a sail boat while learning how to sail; circled Cape Horn in 1971 aboard a 30 foot catamaran with her husband and their two kids (one is a two-year-old, the other is a six month-old at the time of departure); in 1983 she crossed the Atlantic in a tiny 17-foot boat she had found in a shed in Wales, using the stars and an old Timex watch to navigate; and a year later she borrowed two horses to revisit Cape Horn via the South American pampas. She had the nerve to literary run around the world, starting on her 57th birthday in 2003 and finishing in 2008: it took her “only” five years. These are just some of the highlights of her feats. Rosie Swale Pope might not be the most nurturing mother type, but for me she is the most inspiring female adventurer of all times. And she is still kicking. Not only kicking, but up for new adventures.
Buying a sail boat is the direct result of me reading Rosie Swale Pope’s book Children of Cape Horn some thirty years ago. Over the years I reread it more than five times, and I’m still impressed. What is most remarkable for me is that both of her sailing trips took place before the GPS take-over. The Swales navigated around Cape Horn with a sextant, a compass, and a bunch of printed nautical charts. On her solo crossing, Rosie used celestial navigation relying on a wrist watch.
So, when I was looking for a sail boat, I aimed for one that had a history of long sea voyages, and was basic in terms of modern electronic equipment. That’s how I wound up with Labiris, a run-down 33-foot, center cockpit French made Karate sloop that had crossed the Atlantic at least once, sailed south along the South American coastline in at least one documented voyage, roamed the Caribbean including the West Indies, and crossed the Gulf Stream numerous times.
To this day, the most adventurous trip aboard the Labiris was when we delivered the boat from the Miami mooring fields to the Jacksonville, FL area, where she was given a temporary home in a slip at Knight’s Marina on the St. Johns River to await repairs and restoration. The gravy run, as one of our friends dubbed the delivery trip, was everything I had dreamed of: adventure, hardship, suspense, and unlimited beauty and serenity. In other words: a definite learning curve, à la Rosie Swale.
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