On May 5, 1997, when Pat Henry anchored her 31-foot Southern Cross sailboat in Acapulco Harbour, she became the first American women to sail around the world alone. At 56, with two adult daughters and three grandchildren, she is also the oldest woman in the world to have done so. Her voyage began in 1989 and took her through 40 countries, 27,000 miles and eight years. Her longest passage at sea was her first, 36 days from Acapulco to the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. Sailing without sponsorship and with little money, learning as she went, Henry encountered storms, near collisions, fatigue, equipment failures, uncharted reefs, health problems and weeks of solitude in her voyage. She supported herself by selling her watercolours - one reason the trip took so long. At her nadir in New Zealand, down to her last $3, unable to sell paintings, she abandoned herself to despair and considered ending her life by stepping off the boat. But this resourceful and resilient sailor also found beauty, diversity, romance and a network of friendships around the globe. Her solo circumnavigation is a triumph to rival Joshua Slocum's -the prototype for all that have followed. Henry's adventure began with the collapse of her import business in 1988. In debt and suffering a crisis of self-doubt, she moved aboard a 21-year-old sloop to live frugally in Santa Cruz harbour while working in a shoreside graphic arts studio. But Henry's wanderlust soon propelled her out of the harbour for a "brief cruise" to Mexico, and then, impetuously, onward around the world, never fully realizing the magnitude of her undertaking. A voyage of eight years cannot be written as a continuous narrative. Rather, the manuscript is a rich tapestry woven from discrete, chronologically sequential episodes like those in the attached writing sample. Several recurring elements - the author's letters to her friend Kitty; brief, dated logbook entries; and brief transcripts of the Voice of America broadcasts that brought the momentous events of the world into Henry's cabin in midocean -give structure to the narrative. So, too, do the maps that open each of the book's seven sections. Buoyantly adventurous by nature, Pat Henry is also a good storyteller and an admirable protagonist. There is good travel writing here, informed by an artist's eye and an observant student of human nature. Her best writing is in her descriptive passages, whether of people, a marketplace, or a tropical anchorage. Her story will require careful editing for continuity and transition, but the end result promises to be a winner. Illustrated, full-colour endsheets show photos from the voyage as well as several of the vivid waterclours Henry painted of scenes encountered along the way. These delightful paintings tell the reader much about the storyteller.
About Pat Henry
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Published August 9, 2002
by International Marine Publishing.
Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Sports & Outdoors, Travel, Action & Adventure, Science & Math.