The Old Woman and the Sea

In January 2017 my husband Eric Sponberg and I departed St. Augustine, FL, on our 35-foot sailboat Corroboree with the goal of sailing around the world. I have no idea whether we will make it. As with any journey, the path is never as straight as you optimistically plan. But you go anyway, in hopes of a great adventure and because you can’t ignore the tug in your heart that beckons you on.

This blog will be the story of our voyage…and much more.

Yo Hablo Espanol…Sort of

Here in Puerto Rico, as in the Dominican Republic, we hear a lot of Spanish. Muy rápido Spanish, I might add. To my ears, it’s a language that seems to lend itself to speaking at breakneck pace. I catch the first few syllables, then it’s like a rock slide coming at me, an avalanche of

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In Search of Indiana Ryan

Barry Ryan (aka Indiana Ryan) in the Andes Mountains, Peru, 1940-1941. Railway station (l.); Chulec Hospital (r.) My father Barry Ryan was not a talkative man. He was born in 1909 and married my mother Laura in 1948 when he was 39 and she was 28. Both the age difference and the late age of

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If A Mermaid Came

“What is it like to sail in the ocean overnight?” a friend asked. “I can’t even imagine doing that.” I’ll try to explain. The easy answer is that it’s merely an extension of sailing during the day. You don’t stop driving your car at sunset, for example. The streetlights come on and your eyesight adjusts.

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Then and Now

If you say we don’t look a day older in these two photos, in a way you’d be telling the truth. We don’t look a day older. We are—and look—four decades older. I was 26 and Eric was 27 when we set sail from England to California on Duprass in 1977. Now we are 66

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Paradise Found

I take it back. Everything—well, almost everything—I said about cruising in the Bahamas in my last blog post goes out the window. Yes, it’s still tough sailing. Yes, the wind keeps coming from the wrong direction, too strong, or not at all. Yes, we have had a few more, thankfully minor, equipment mishaps, and we

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Reality Check

So here we are cruising the idyllic waters of the Bahamas, anchoring in turquoise bays, snorkeling coral reefs, sand crusting between our toes as we walk barefoot along a pristine beach. We sail where we like, when we like, the sun on our faces, the breeze at our backs. We end each day sipping a

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Goldilocks in the Gulf Stream

The night before crossing the Gulf Stream, Eric and I both had knots in our stomachs. We had done our homework—read and reread the cruising guides, grilled more experienced sailors for their advice, studied the charts, plotted our course. Most important, we monitored the weather reports. To cross the  Stream in the wrong wind and

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The Kindness of Strangers

Several years ago, Eric and I went to a meet-your-congressman event at a coffeehouse in St. Augustine. He wasn’t someone we’d vote for, but in the interests of being informed citizens we wanted to hear his views. He opened with a strong statement in favor of supporting Israel, then moved on to pending legislation in

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Why I Love the Sea

One Saturday afternoon when I was about sixteen, I found an odd note on our kitchen bulletin board. On a small piece of notepaper my father had scribbled the following lines: “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and

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