Insights From A Global Cruise
On Mother’s Day 2012, Alice Woods boarded her 38-foot sailboat True Blue III and left Oahu for a 14-and-a-half-month sail around the world.
The journey started with Woods and two other women, Anne Bayly and Mary Campbell, (all in their 50s). From Hawaii, they went to the Solomon Islands, and then the Northern Territories, Australia, La Reunion near Madagascar, South Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, Granada, Panama, Ecuador and then back to Hawaii. The longest leg was 51 days across the Indian Ocean.
“I thought of it more as a pilgrimage,” says Woods, who spent much of her adult life as a mariner. “Just to do a journey, to really find out what we’re actually sitting on. Also, when I started the journey I really needed to give me a good task to distract myself from grief.”
Woods’ husband Stephen Bergh died in August 2010, and the couple had just purchased the boat before his passing.
Throughout the trip, Woods says they would catch fish for their meals. They also encountered some storms east of Papua New Guinea, but nothing they couldn’t handle.
“It’s very taxing and you need to be physically and mentally fit,” notes Woods on what it takes. “You need to have patience and be a calm sort of person. Also, your boat has to be very sturdy.”
As for some of the highlights of her trip, Woods lists seeing the beauty of the ocean, sailing under the stars with phosphorescence in the sea, and being welcomed by all the different people they met wherever they went.
They also often were accompanied by dolphins. Wild fish and schools of tuna would sometimes follow their boat. Large flocks of flying fish would occasionally jump up from the water, and they even saw a few whales.
With no TV on board, the ladies spent their down-time reading, talking story, and if it was calm, swimming.
“My favorite thing about sailing is being propelled by wind,” says Woods, who recently turned 60. “I think being delivered by wind, it’s really a magical thing, and to be able to sail around this planet is really something.”
A retired lighthouse keeper from Canada, Woods has three grown sons and one granddaughter, and currently lives on her boat moored at Hawaii Yacht Club. She plans to reunite with her family next spring when she sails back to Canada.
Until then, she hopes to gain a better understanding of Hawaii, including the graciousness of the people here. She also paddles with the Kamehameha Paddling Club.
“I was humbled,” recalls Woods on how she felt when she and Bayly returned to Oahu Aug. 2 (Campbell stayed for only the first few months of the trip, deboarding in Australia). “And not so much because I had done this thing, but because I have been allowed to do it. I feel very lucky that I had a good boat to do it on, good companions to do it with and the sea was kind to me.
“My message to people is if you have a dream, follow it. Pursue it and work to make it happen because anything is possible.”
And while her husband, who also was a lighthouse keeper and fisherman, did not make it on the journey, he was definitely there in spirit.
“In many ways he was with me, even just the knowledge he shared with me that made it possible for me to do this,” says Woods. “And I took his ashes with me and scattered it around the ocean, the beautiful spots along the way.”