Tuesday, 8 May 2012

From Parisian Professionals to Breton Sail Bums

Blogs about casting off the lines and sailing around the world* usually start by addressing the prickly issue of financing such folly, or otherwise arranging life to accommodate the adventure.  These most daunting of tasks actually came easily for us, as Patrick was a young retiree with a comfortable pension, and I was sufficiently daft to leave my career whirling in the wake of my sailing ambitions at age 40.  As an oceanographer, I comforted myself by saying that sailing is a great way of getting closer to my subject matter.  Besides, how many people on their deathbeds say, “I just wish I’d worked a little bit longer?”  I was being given the chance to sail around the world* with my soul mate and I would be an ungrateful fool to spit in the face of such grace.
(*the authors reserve the right to change their minds at any point during said adventure.)

Maria's Makeover:  The Reveal !
Honestly, now - doesn't he look happier on the boat?
We left our Paris apartment and moved to the south coast of Patrick’s native Brittany, which is trying to market itself as “Sailing Valley” (supposed to sound like “Silicon Valley”).  For 5 years before the move, we took week-long sailing courses every year with the famous French sailing school, the Glenans.  The Glenans, the largest sailing school in Europe, was established after World War II by members of the French resistance to help young people returning from deportation or activities in the resistance to forget the war and reconstruct their lives.  The training is rigorous, focusing on safety and navigation using only paper charts, a compass, and tables of tides and currents.  The use of electronics is generally frowned on.  The only drawback of my sailing education is that I learned entirely in French, and I don’t even know many sailing terms in English.  When I talk with my American friends, I fumble around clumsily trying to find the right words. They, of course, enjoy telling me I need to go back to school.  I’m hoping that sailing in French and blogging about it in English will help resolve some of these issues.