Stuart’s story of seafaring

There is something unique about choosing a subject from a stranger who will share their story with you. I found it more confronting yet deeper than choosing a book. I chose ‘Cruising on a Yacht’ by Stuart (pictured), who had spent 10 years accompanied by his wife living on a 34-foot steel yacht.

Stuart’s powered yacht was fuel efficient and held enough fuel to travel from the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean. This is the longest crossing in circumnavigation without land to refuel.

I’d often wondered about the nomadic and what appeared to be carefree lifestyle of yacht dwellers. He didn’t have much sailing experience, which gave the story some risk.

Stuart opened his book. ‘A lot of people have misconceptions of what it is about. I guess this is about sharing a story.

‘The first trip was in the middle of the night, and the boat was sinking and my crew (wife and son at this point) were seasick.’

The travels went up and down the coast, across to Lord Howe Island, the South Pacific and delivery runs across the Atlantic.

Delivery runs? At this point I had to ask, delivery of what – drugs, people?

‘Crew, actually. Out at sea, with a crew of two, you have three hours on, three hours off. So after 10 days you get pretty exhausted. So an extra person means six hours’ sleep, which is a real luxury!’

The yacht survived a few cyclones; one in particular happened when the boat was moored in a marina in the Caribbean. Most of the marina was wiped out, but because of the direction Stuart’s yacht was facing, it came through unharmed.

In half an hour we moved from the tangible to the spiritual, the despair to the elation, the loneliness to the companionships, the human to the animal, and the calm to the cyclonic. There are many more stories from this epic 10-year journey. Stuart is available at future Lismore Human Library sessions.

Read more on  A book that walks the talk

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