By The Grace Of The Sea

A Woman's Solo Odyssey Around the World
By Pat Henry (McGraw Hill/International Marine/Sept 02)


Ship's diary: 28 August 1992, 1200 Local, 12 07S/128 17E, Timor Sea, sailing at 1.5 - 2 knots, steering 265M, wind N 2 - 4 knots, seas NE 1.5 feet, 30% cloud cover, bar 1008. In four hours made 6.5 miles. Noon to noon--58.

     Every cruising boat up to 600 miles west of Darwin reported "no wind." Surrounded by pale, creamy aquamarine water and a sunset of muted pink, peach, and lavender, I fantasized how 10 knots of wind would feel against bare skin. These nights came from an Illinois childhood summer -- before air-conditioning -- when my bed felt like a puddle of warm water. By 1000 the deck was hot enough to cook breakfast.
      Under the shelter of the green-and-white striped sunshade, I watched yellow-and-black banded deadly sea snakes, lavender, peach, and pale blue jellyfish, and small orange crabs drift by. Only the small, wiggly line following SC gave the impression of forward motion.


     Sri Lanka, on the opposite side of the Bay, had been my home for one year in 1979-80, on board the trimaran Windy. Old friends were waiting to see me in Colombo, the capital. My last visit had been in 1983, after the sadness of racial wars began between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamils of the north. I wondered how much my friends had changed in eleven years, and how much I had.
     I knew that I had arrived at a new understanding of the meaning of "failure." One day, somewhere along the way, I had passed a newsstand with the current issue of Forbes on display. In the upper right-hand corner a quote had jumped off the page: "I would never hire anyone who hadn't failed," said Malcolm Forbes. It was as if a lifeline had been tossed to pull me out of the morass of TWT's failure.
      It made perfect sense in that clear tropical light, far from telephones and pressures. The only way to fail was to take a chance. No one achieved success without taking risks. I could have done many things better, but retreating to the realm of "safety" would never have made me happy. I thanked Mr. Forbes for that insight. At last I could ask myself whether, if someone should want to hire me, I wanted to be hired.


HOME (1997)

Ship's diary: 5 May 1997, 0135 Local, 16 49N/099 51W. Anchored at Marques Bay by Acapulco.

The Displaced Peorians were listening for my call in the morning: "Net Control, KM6DR here. I've arrived. Tell Mom I'll call by phone in a couple of hours." Congratulations fired back from hams all over the country. It was my first rush of success.

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