August 5, 2015

yachting world, september 2015 issue

A few months ago (approximately a year after the actual events took place) I was finally able to write the story about our last passage from New Zealand.  The slimmed-down/edited version is published as an 8-page feature in the September 2015 issue of Yachting World (UK). This issue will be available on newsstands in the UK by the middle of August 2015 and an electronic version can be downloaded through the iTunes App Store shortly after.

Below is an excerpt from my original manuscript...

September 2015 issue Yachting World / Cruising Section
"Dismasted!" Yachting World (UK) September 2015 issue
Story & Photos by Somira Sao



It was early morning aboard Anasazi Girl.  As I exhaled, I could see my breath curl like smoke through the cold air. I was lying with our three children in the starboard quarter berth.  James sat at the navigation station, looking at our latest GRIB file, updating charts, and watching the boat’s performance.  I could hear the sound of the ocean through the carbon hull as the boat surfed through the water.

I craned my neck so I could peek at the instruments.  Then I carefully shifted my weight so I could crawl out of the berth without waking anyone. Getting out of a space intended for one person, then stepping out over the ballast plumbing was tricky.  Gravity was pushing us to the lowest side of the berth, matching our angle of heel, with me at the bottom of the kid pile. The arrangement was uncomfortable, but it was the safest place to be on the boat. My intense love for my kids and the happiness felt having them close always worked to counter-balance any discomfort.

It was February 2014 and we were starting day 5 of our passage out of Auckland.  With 60 days of provisions on board, our plan was to sail non-stop to Lorient, France.  This was the first offshore passage for our one-year-old daughter Pearl. With many ocean miles under their belts, our daughter Tormentina (age 5) and son Raivo (age 3) were now well-seasoned sailors.  If we made it to Lorient, it would complete an east-bound family circumnavigation via the three Great Capes.

We were trying to maintain a maximum boat speed of 10-12 knots while staying on an efficient and comfortable East-bound course toward the Drake.  For this section of the Southern Ocean, the plan was simple – sail fast, sail smart, keep the lows on starboard, the highs on port, and above all else, do not get hurt or break anything!

As our position shifted southeast in latitude, we left our previous lives & the warm temperatures of New Zealand further behind. We had arrived in Auckland 14 months prior, in October 2012, after sailing from Cape Town, Fremantle, and Melbourne while I was pregnant.  Our time in New Zealand had been quite special.  For James and I, the place held a lot of personal history for us, going back before we had kids.

In 2007, James and I sailed Anasazi Girl across Cook Strait from Nelson to Wellington, then along the east coast of North Island from Wellington to Tauranga.  We spent several months in Auckland, working on the boat in the Viaduct, on the hard stand by the old America’s Cup sheds on Halsey Street. James was preparing for a non-stop Eastward passage from Auckland to Cape Town and it was during this period that we decided to start a family.

This recent stop in New Zealand, we had given birth to our third child and I finally said “Yes” seven years after he asked me.  We got married with a simple civil ceremony and celebrated with a memorable party afterwards.  We taught our kids how to swim at the Tepid Baths and lived a completely pedestrian lifestyle. Our kids ran wild & barefoot, tearing it up on the waterfront, wharfs, and docks on scooters and skateboards.  We made deep connections with friends, both old and new and also experienced America’s Cup madness as we cheered on Emirates Team New Zealand with the Kiwis for the 34th edition.

All of these things made our departure one of the hardest goodbyes ever leaving port.  With the addition of one more crew-member, we cleared out of the country.  Freed from the land, we were excited about making an epic voyage, and eager to see what would come next for our family....


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