I have to be honest: There are days when I pinch myself to be certain I am the editor-in-chief of this great magazine. And there are also plenty of days when the job is happy to do the pinching for me.
Between my new responsibilities and Bossanova‘s sad time on the hard, 2012 was not a good boating year for me, and I spent a lot of time pining for time off the dock. But like all avid boaters, I have the luxury of great memories.
Sorting through the thousands of photos I’ve taken while at Yachting these past five years for ones we can post to Facebook and use in online galleries, I have come across moments that are still so vivid they take my breath away.
For example, one image brings back an early morning anchorage off the Isle of Jura in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, where a light mist hovers above the flat gray water and soaring green hills cascade to the sea. I remember taking that photo in perfect silence, from the deck of the Eda Frandsen___, a 74-foot gaff cutter that was built as a fishing boat in 1938. My view was one that had not changed in a thousand years, and I thought, surely, this must be one of the world’s most beautiful anchorages. The 10 minutes I spent on deck with a first cup of coffee while the rest of the crew slumbered below was a piece of heaven I will never forget. Later that day we put our backs into it, manually hoisting the red mainsail and making way for Islay. That was a day when I felt like one of the luckiest people alive — and that was before we toured the Laphroaig, Caol Ila and Lagavulin distilleries and sampled their astounding single malts. People, I was _paid to do this!
Another photo takes me back to a gray dusk on the Rio Negro, a black-water tributary of the Amazon. I’m in a canoe with seven other people and I recall the only sounds are the whoosh of our paddles and the gentle patter of rain hitting the jungle canopy. We’re moving extra quietly through the water, waiting for some signs of the wildlife that we know is all around us. The guide silently raises a clenched fist to signal us to stop paddling, and we coast up to the shoreline. With lightning speed he thrusts his arm into the water and pulls out a baby cayman, four feet long and writhing pointlessly in his practiced grip. An Amazon parrot startles and soars out of the jungle, his vivid colors visible only in flight. On the trunk of a massive kapok tree, a tarantula the size of a dinner plate crawls from its burrow, and my eye flows up, up to the top, where a sloth dozes upside down between forked branches. And then in the distance a massive roar rises, an eerie, almost ethereal swell with a rumbling bass note to it — it resembles the sound a seashell makes when you hold it to your ear … howler monkeys.
Photos of the Beagle Channel in Patagonia are perhaps the most evocative (and beautiful) I ever took. Cascades of pale blue glaciers spill from snow-capped peaks to the water’s edge. I recall the stillness as Pelagic Australis quietly navigated chunks of ice the size of Buicks, the hustle to tie ourselves to four trees ashore as night and cold rapidly descended. Once we were secured to handle williwaws, we gathered around the Reflex diesel stove and toasted our stunning anchorage, Caleta Beaulieu, with drinks cooled by ice from thousand-year-old glaciers. The five-week trip aboard Pelagic Australis, which sailed from Puerto Williams, Chile, up the Beagle Channel, around Cape Horn, on to the gorgeously austere Falkland Islands and across to Buenos Aires, was not the easiest I ever made: There were 11 of us aboard the comfortable but bare-bones 74-foot aluminum boat and some of the personal dynamics aboard were tense. There were a few days when the weather beat the hell out of us. But when I look back on that trip now, none of that matters. I remember instead sitting on the stern as we sailed from Cape Horn to the Falklands and watching the storm petrels, sooty albatrosses, gulls and cormorants wheeling and screeching in our wake.
This is the beauty of loving the sea. Its vastness, its power, its reach — these change little with the passage of time. And so the memories we revisit remind us that the pleasure we knew is out there still. Waiting for us. _Click here to see more photos from Mary South’s adventures._
Editor’s Letter, February 2013
Click here to read more from editor Mary South.