The Young Woman and the Sea

Susan Smillie

‘I decided I would turn left at Land’s End instead of right and leave Brexit Britain behind’: Susan Smillie takes the helm. Photograph: Cat Vinton for the Observer.

I’d worried about being lonely in France. I needn’t have. Brittany is the epicentre of sailing and everyone was interested in my journey. “You are taking on the nose of Brittany!?! By yourself? In this leetle boat?” This reaction became common, so rare are solo female sailors. I laughed when someone in Portugal introduced themselves, “I heard about you in Spain” – and when a harbour-master gestured to the cabin, nodding, “Do you have a man down there?” … I’ve had so much respect along the way (and size does matter – I love when sailors emerge from enormous yachts, all thumbs-up in recognition of the challenge of sailing a small boat – Isean is under 8m). And I’ve had untold support – there’s this international community of self-sufficient problem-solvers on the water, almost always ready to help – because everyone knows what it’s like to be in trouble at sea.

(Susan Smillie, “Setting sail: one woman’s year alone at sea,” The Guardian, 11-4-18)

(c) 2018 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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