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Bull Canyon

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Lin and Larry Pardey have long been fixtures in the sailing world, thanks to their many instructional cruising videos and DVDs, and Lin’s 11 books about the couple’s life afloat.

Lin’s most recent work, Bull Canyon: A Boatbuilder, a Writer and other Wildlife, breaks with this tradition by addressing the time they moved to an isolated California canyon 60 miles inland to build their new engine-free sailboat. But fans of Lin’s previous stories about the 24-foot Seraffyn at sea needn’t worry. In addition to covering their battle with exuberant bands of packrats for possession of an old stone cottage, the book recounts, at length, the couple’s four-year experience building the 29-foot wooden Taleisin. It also touches on the Pardeys’ nostalgia for the cruising life during a time when they were very much land-bound.

SAIL recently caught up with Lin to learn more about the writing of Bull Canyon and what’s up next for the veteran cruising couple:

Q: You lived in Bull Canyon back in the 80’s. Why wait until now to publish a book about your time there?

A: Voyaging on Taleisin filled the next few years of our lives. Though I often made notes for what might eventually become the story of our time in the canyon, even writing a few chapters on quiet night watches, I kept putting it aside in favor of the how-to books and articles cruising sailors seemed eager to read. A few years ago, while we were preparing Taleisin for the voyage from Mar del Plata in Argentina, south around Cape Horn and into the Pacific, I met Maria Eugenia Bestani, a professor of English literature at the University of Tucumn, Argentina. She hated sailing and asked if I had ever written anything other than sailing stories. I showed her the first eight chapters, and her enthusiasm for this story brought it back into focus.

Q: Were there any memories cut from the book for space reasons that you’d like to share here?

A: There was the day the president of Warner Brothers Music drove his pristine Rolls Royce Silver Shadow to our cottage, intent on convincing us to deliver his Swan 47 from California to the Caribbean. He had a blonde Hollywood starlet with him, and after a really fun evening together, they drove off down the now-dark road. Two hours later, just after midnight, we heard voices and saw a tiny flashlight flick across the dark of our yard. I opened the door and Ed Silvers called, “I’ll trade my Roller for your pickup truck…I lost control in that sharp bend in the narrow part of your canyon. The Rolls is stuck in the creek.” Their fancy clothes were now covered in dust, shoes ruined forever. But Larry towed them clear of the creek, and we became friends. Then Larry convinced Ed he could sail his own boat to the Caribbean. He did, and set up a music studio on one of the British Virgin Islands and is still there.

Q: Were there adjustments to life on land you think avid sailors would empathize with you about?

A: When you are off crossing oceans, cruising far away from the distractions of everyday life, you have time to think, time to prioritize. But as soon as we returned to land and settled in to build Taleisin—and especially when we got a telephone—I found myself feeling bombarded by outside concerns and sometimes wanted to run away to the tranquility of our cruising existence. I find that many folks who have returned from cruising have this same reaction: feeling overloaded by the constant input of shore life. With so many distractions, it is harder to distinguish the relative importance of each new demand.

Q: What were the big differences between your married life in Bull Canyon versus aboard Seraffyn?

A: (While cruising,) we were highly dependent on each other for companionship. We learned to work together closely as a team and didn’t have the concerns about earning enough money to keep our project moving along. Bull Canyon is an exploration of how shore life changed all of this. I think it will resonate with anyone who has returned from offshore sailing.

Q: How would you describe the differences between your newest work and your previous books about Seraffyn?

A: The four books of our Cruising in Seraffyn series were written as a series of sailing tales, a way to share the joys of voyaging and the lessons of seamanship we learned during the eleven years we sailed on her. Those books were written in close collaboration with Larry (that’s why the technical sailing descriptions are so accurate). Bull Canyon is probably the first book I have written completely from my perspective, a true memoir that I think shows how sailing has shaped the person I am.

Q: What do you and Larry hope the future holds in terms of new sailing adventures?

A: Larry and I have always avoided telling people what we plan to do. We feel it is far better to tell them after we have done something. Right now we will be traveling in the US in our pickup truck and camper presenting seminars at boat shows and introducing Bull Canyon.

Q: With Bull Canyon completed and published, are you working on any new stories?

A: All of Taleisin’s logbooks are on a table next to my office desk. All of the slides we took over the past 25 years are there, too. I have written the introduction and Larry and I are having a wonderful time trying to distill the best or most instructive adventures. I think the hardest part of writing Taleisin’s Tales will be deciding which of the wonderful adventures, big or small, should be shared with our sailing friends.

To learn more about the Pardeys or purchase “Bull Canyon,” visit: http://www.linpardey.com/

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