Australian Ann Gash sail around the world in a little wooden Folkboat. When she left, she didn't even tell her kids where she was going!
Like Nancy Erley, whom I circumnavigated with during her second circumnavigation, and I, Ann went because she wanted to. Period. No attempt at "firsts," no racing, no sponsors, no attempt to draw crowds at the beginning, middle, or end. She simply followed her heart and the winds.
According to an obituary in the Sydney Herald (Australia)..."Sailing came to her relatively late, at about 45, when she bought a little boat for the children when the family lived on Pittwater. "We put it on the water and it went round in circles, while everyone else was breezing by." Although her sailing experience before 1975 was limited, she studied coastal navigation at night school, taught herself celestial navigation from books and sought lessons from fellow sailors."
Her 26' boat... "Ilimo did not have a two-way radio but the sailor reported home by mail, firstly from Darwin. Confirmation that this was no ordinary voyage came with the next mail, from Christmas Island. She then sailed across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius, Madagascar, Durban and around Cape of Good Hope.
Ilimo was plagued by rigging problems and an unreliable engine. In A Star to Steer Her By, published in 1980, Gash described battling 10-metre waves in ferocious storms, almost being ploughed down by a supertanker and being becalmed, surrounded by a school of sharks. At other times she passed peaceful hours playing her bamboo flute to schools of frolicking dolphins.
In a storm, she missed St Helena by 112 kilometres. Thieves stole her sextant and other navigational equipment in Accra, Ghana, and a tug rammed Ilimo. After repairs she tried to sail up the African coast but, in order to reach England in time for the bamboo pipers' summer school, she put Ilimo on a ship to Southampton. Gash came home via the French canals, Spain, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, Tobago, Trinidad, Tahiti, Rarotonga, Tonga and Ballina. She later sailed to San Francisco, Perth and four times to New Zealand."
I had a copy of her book, A Star to Steer Her By: the remarkable story of a grandmother's sail around the world, on TETHYS, but have lost it somewhere along the way. As a person circumnavigating in my 30s, I admired Ann's courage to sail alone in her 50s. Now that I'm in my 50s, I want to read it again! If you've got a copy of that book, I'd love to borrow it! I promise, I won't sail away with it;)
Sail on, you grandmothers and grandfathers!