Cruising: Donna Gallant

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
DownWind700x

Donna Gallant always planned to live a life of adventure. In school, she told her roommate that she was going to marry a man with a boat so she could sail the world (and she did). Since then, she’s built up an impressive nautical resume, having sailed over 6,000 miles and lived aboard for years. She even sailed from Miami to Los Angeles on a 50ft steel ketch called Bernina with just her husband and two babies (one and three years old). “I was washing diapers in saltwater and hanging them out to dry in the rigging,” she remembers with a laugh. In the late 1950s, she published an article about bringing up children on a sailboat.

Eventually, she and her sailor husband split up, but Donna’s wanderlust never waned. Instead of waiting for someone to travel with her as she had back in school, she decided to do it on her own. The result were trips are too numerous to list, but which included visits to Thailand, Morocco and the Arctic (where she learned to fly, but not land, a twin-engine plane).

In her 50s, she took up commercial fishing even as she continued traveling, but she missed sailing, as she went 30 long years without a boat. The result was a bad case of “sea fever” as she calls it. “I had to stop walking by the marina because it made my heart ache,” she says.

Finally, in 2017 at the age of 86, Donna decided enough was enough, and she purchased a Catalina 30 called Downwind. With the help of her 90-year-old friend and neighbor, Bob, who has two circumnavigations to his record, she then cruised the San Juan Islands. Though the pair isn’t going to be able to do the sailing they had hoped to this season, the spirit of adventure lives on as Donna intends to do a riverboat cruise in Europe and is planning another trip back to Thailand. 

August 2018

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Check the waypoint  Most errors with GPS and paper chart navigation are caused by the operator punching in the wrong numbers or plotting the lat/long incorrectly. The surest way to double-check a ...read more

Furlex-Electric

Gear: Seldén’s Furlex Electric

Furl Power Seldén’s Furlex Electric offers an easy path into the world of sweat-free headsail furling. The compact unit can be retrofitted to an existing manual Furlex unit or installed as a replacement for whatever you’ve got now. Its DC-DC converter accepts your boat’s 12V or ...read more

11_DSC8423Tom-Zydler

Cruising: Nova Scotia

There’s a unique cruising ground that combines access to urban locations with easy escapes to wilderness and nature. Its native people may be the friendliest on the east coast of North America. Its coastline runs 250 nautical miles in a straight line, but that should be ...read more

01-LEAD-shutterstock_727849660

Boat Monitoring System

Boat Oversight In a world where you can track your friends’ locations in real time and stream yourself live on the internet, it should come as no surprise that you can also keep a close eye on your boat from the comfort of home. In fact, not only is there a plethora of options ...read more

pilot_saloon_42-_en_navigation_11

Boat Review: Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42

Old salts grouse about modern aesthetics. It’s just what they do, and the hard lines and spartan interiors of today’s production boats give them many reasons to complain. French builder Wauquiez, however, seems to consistently be able to marry contemporary elements with ...read more

JuneWaterlines

Sights and Stories Cruising the Caribbean

Though I hate to think of myself as a “disaster tourist,” I can’t deny one of the things I was most curious about as I sailed south last fall to visit St. Martin, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico was how much hurricane damage I would see. I’m sure no one needs reminding that ...read more