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December 2006
This year, the weather cooperated and we were able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner on the terrace of our Kawau cottage.

Dear Friends:

We celebrated Thanksgiving at our home base in New Zealand a few days ago. As Larry and I worked together making real American pumpkin pies (from The Joy of Cooking recipe) in the kitchen he finished building only the afternoon before 26 guests were coming for dinner, we began talking about Thanksgivings past. I reminded him of one of the more unusual sailing stunts in his life, way back in 1967 when he'd been among the first to sail across the Sahara desert. A copy of National Geographic's November issue with Larry's picture on the cover arrived just the day before Thanksgiving. We'd proudly taken it with us to share with my family a hundred miles north of where we were building Seraffyn. I remember feeling we'd never do anything to top that adventure as relatives and friends decided we'd been crazy, clever, foolish, wise, to sell my piano and Larry's 1948 MG and close down our boat supply business to do it.

Larry made the cover of National Geographic. This photograph was taken by Jonathon Blair, National Geos' man who is actually strapped in front of the mast on Larry's machine.(photo courtesy of National Geographic Society)

Larry, along with 14 others did actually manage to sail land-yachts 1700 miles across hard packed earth and gravel routes from Bechar in Algeria to Noakchott in Mauritania. guided by a Bedouin called Ahmed Zoom Zoom. The American team consisting of Larry as Captain, plus Richard Arthur and Warren Zeibarth became famous for being able to fix tires really fast. Because the French still had some military personnel in Algeria, they were able to stage a race against the last French Foreign Legion Camel platoon. (Land-yachts won.) Larry brought back amazing tales of evenings spent in the tents of the Blue Bedouins, and with costal villagers of Morocco who swam into the Atlantic pulling seine nets out to surround schools of mullet fish, then brought the ends of the nets back to the beach where the whole village set to work pulling their catch ashore. The landyachts were, like iceboats, able to reach speeds far in excess of the wind. In fact Larry recalls one day when they were being paced by Land Rovers. "I was close-hauled making 85 miles per hour when I passed the fastest of them." After 5 weeks of sand and wind (they sailed in February and March to have the best winds - winds that often reached gale force and above) they sailed in to a heroes welcome at Noakchott, capital of Mauritania.. Larry described his surprise at coming across a formed road in the middle of the apparently uninhabited desert. "It gradually got better and better, then I saw buildings in the distance and about six blocks before we reached the buildings there was tarmac on the road. We rushed through the streets, past cheering arabs for six blocks to cross the finish line in front of the elaborate government buildings. The next day we learned that the tarmac and the road itself ended six blocks further on at the other side of town there was just more open expanse of desert."

This brightly colored sails of the landyacht fleet attracted attention at each of the small oasis along the route. (photo courtesy of National Geographic Society)

Each of the men who sailed the total distance were awarded the Mauritanian Legion of Honor, We have the bronze and enamel star on its green and yellow stripped ribbon to this day. Larry has his wonderful memories of the camaraderie of that adventure. I have my irreplaceable memories of Paris. We gained as a couple when we succeeded at getting there and back because we found that we could adventure without using a lot of money, we could improvise and stay flexible enough to find solutions when conditions such as me being unable to join the expedition and needing to find a way to cover the costs of staying in Paris. I think the success of that expedition may have been one of the reasons we were willing to set off cruising as soon as Seraffyn was built and sea-trialed.

These two pages from National Geographic Mag. November 1967 remind Larry of some of the best days of that event.

Of course we also reminisced about more recent sailing adventures as we prepared this years Thanksgiving dinner. We again savoured memories of our warm welcome in San Francisco where Bob and Jane Van Blaricom arranged for us to have a pleasant week just a few blocks from their home at the San Francisco Yacht Club (in Tiburon just east of Sausalito), a grand sail down the bay to Alemada where Diane and Jim Jesse had arranged for a perfect berth for Taleisin to spend the winter right next to them. Because she is relatively small and would not be moving in and out during her stay, the folks at marina found a rarely used side tie that just fit and made us feel most welcome. The day we sailed in an old friend of Larry's from Vancouver noticed Taleisin. Soon Dave Wilson was secured alongside and began the enjoyable social fling that helped speed the two weeks we spent in San Francisco Bay while we winterized Taleisin before flying down here for yet another summer - our seventh in a row. But this summer includes a healthy dose of writing (me) as Larry finishes rebuilding the cottage and upgrading Thelma in preparation for the Classic Yacht Regattas that begin in six weeks.

Back to the modern world - John Swain took this photo of Taleisin at anchor just off Tiburon, opposite San Francisco.

May your holidays be the beginnings of many fond memories.

Lin and Larry

We made the mistake of feeding these ducks when we first came back to our home base. Now I find I have to chase them out of my office as they definitely are not house trained.






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