Beth Leonard’s pen is magic. She is able to write as few others can. Better yet for sailors everywhere, she goes to the ends of the earth in order to have strong subject matter to present.
Over the years, in her previous books, Beth has told us how to go cruising and she’s told us why. Her how-to book, The Voyager’s Handbook, has just come out in a new, fatter, second edition. In contrast, Blue Horizons is another book about why . . . why go cruising . . . why go to the high latitudes of the Arctic and then to the Southern Ocean with its great capes . . . why not sip margaritas in paradise?
In their first three-year 36,000-mile circumnavigation, Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger cruised in paradise. Then they went home, sold the boat, dusted off their hands, went back to work, and were instantly consumed by regrets. Beth tells us, “Life ashore seemed dull, monochrome. Something was missing.” Since their favorite cruising areas had been the temperate latitudes, rather than the tropics, they embarked on a more challenging high-latitude circumnavigation after first building the aluminum sloop capable of taking them there.
Long passages give this insightful sailor ample opportunity to be alone with her thoughts, which then flow out onto paper through that magic pen of hers. She writes of relationships with and memories of family and friends, of experiences afloat, of safety at sea, and of the pleasures and pains of passage. Her philosophical musings pour forth on page after page.
A portion of the book depicts the bonding process between two dominant personalities who have spent a large percentage of the last decade confined to a relatively small space. Over time, her side of the relationship has evolved through power struggle to acceptance, to pleased contentment, and finally to absolute satisfaction with the life she leads and the bonds she and Evans have forged.
In this book, as she contemplates high-latitude sailing, Beth tells us that life is an investment. You get out of it what you put into it. The best cruising experiences come at a price. You can’t experience the Arctic Circle’s summer solstice (the one day the sun doesn’t set on the Arctic Circle) without doing some uncomfortable high-latitude sailing to get there. But the memory is priceless. It’s these character-building experiences that mold and shape us and provide the memories we treasure.
Beth summarizes the voyaging life like this: “It is a life of limitless possibilities, endless opportunities, and continuous renewal. The sea tests us constantly, demanding we learn new skills and don’t get complacent about old ones . . . The other sailors we meet humble us. Some have overcome great odds to be out here; others quietly and competently complete epic voyages without fanfare or recognition . . . If there is one thing that our years aboard Hawk and Silk have taught us, it is that ordinary, everyday people do the most extraordinary, inspirational things.”
For more magic from this pen, pick up a copy of Blue Horizons and other books by Beth Leonard.
Blue Horizons: Dispatches from Distant Seas by Beth Leonard (International Marine, 2007; 179 pages)