SHOPTALK

Cross­ing the Wake Q&A with Au­thor Tanya Bin­ford

Passage Maker - - Contents -

Re­cently pub­lished, Cross­ing the Wake is a non-fic­tion ac­count of one woman’s sin­gle-handed voy­age on the Great Loop. Au­thor Tanya Bin­ford sat down with Pas­sage­Maker to an­swer a few of our ques­tions about her story.

IS THERE A MO­MENT OR MEM­ORY FROM YOUR TRIP THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT INTO YOUR BOOK THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL?

All the best sto­ries are in the book. Is it pos­si­ble to cap­ture the mem­ory of the hun­dreds of peo­ple who showed me kind­ness along the way? To me, that is what the Great Loop is all about. I re­mem­ber one woman, Kathy, who was stand­ing on the fin­ger pier as I pulled into a dock along the Erie Canal. She saw my bike and asked if I had been us­ing it a lot. I hadn’t, be­cause the chain had rusted solid. She had a bike rack on the back of her car and took me and my bike to the lo­cal bike shop where the owner took a break in what he was do­ing to fix the chain. Kathy had just lost her mom, yet there she was show­ing kind­ness to strangers.

AT THE END, WHAT DID YOU FEEL WAS YOUR GREAT­EST SENSE OF PER­SONAL AC­COM­PLISH­MENT?

At the time, I don’t know that I un­der­stood what an ac­com­plish­ment the trip was, as a whole. Early on, my big­gest fear was not com­plet­ing the trip at all. When I left South­port, North Carolina, I had a fear of go­ing into the At­lantic Ocean. Af­ter cross­ing the Gulf of Mex­ico, the fear was re­placed with a sense of com­fort and joy. I learned a lot about weather and seas, and kept the re­spect for Mother Na­ture in the fore­front of my mind. Be­ing able to face that fear and over­come it was an im­por­tant per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DIF­FI­CULT PART OF PICK­ING UP AND LEAV­ING YOUR LIFE BE­HIND TO EM­BARK UPON THIS TRIP?

Con­sid­er­ing that I’d spent most of my life liv­ing in the desert, it was dif­fi­cult to leave my com­fort­able life­style to pur­sue this far-fetched dream. I loved my job and my col­leagues. As a psy­chi­atric nurse prac­ti­tioner, I had about 400 pa­tients, most of whom I had worked with for ten years. This trip was for­mu­lated af­ter years of talk­ing to my pa­tients about pur­su­ing dreams and goals and over­com­ing ob­sta­cles —and liv­ing our lives with­out re­grets. My big­gest fear was that I would not com­plete the trip and I would let down my pa­tients who were fol­low­ing my jour­ney. Along the way, there were peo­ple who had to re­turn home for fam­ily emer­gen­cies, health is­sues, and boat prob­lems. I knew that I wouldn’t have the chance to at­tempt this trip again.

WHAT IS ONE DE­SIGN FEA­TURE ABOUT YOUR BOAT THAT YOU LOVED AND WHAT IS SOME­THING YOU WOULD CHANGE?

The Ranger Tug is a boat that is easy to han­dle for the novice boater, like I was. It has a bow thruster, stern thruster, auto pi­lot, radar. I liked the diesel en­gine, the fuel ca­pac­ity, and I could go on and on about the ad­van­tages of a Ranger Tug.

Twice, I had to fix my stern thruster, which was dif­fi­cult to ac­cess. Although I never did, I wanted to cut out the cen­ter stile on the back cab­i­net to in­crease my ac­ces­si­bil­ity to the thruster. As it was, even tall me­chan­ics with long arms had dif­fi­cul­ties get­ting down into the stern to fix the thruster. Ad­di­tion­ally, as I dis­cuss in the book, re­plac­ing the en­gine im­peller was tough. I think the chal­lenge in build­ing a pocket-cruiser is cre­at­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity to all the com­po­nents of a boat.

WHAT DO YOU MISS ABOUT YOUR TIME ON THE WA­TER?

I miss an­chor­ing and don’t miss an­chor­ing, for two dif­fer­ent rea­sons. I miss the seren­ity of fall­ing asleep while look­ing out my hatch up at the stars on a cool evening. I miss wak­ing up be­fore dawn and en­joy­ing a hot cup of cof­fee while watch­ing the sun peak over the hori­zon, with egrets fly­ing low.

On the other hand, I would start to feel claus­tro­pho­bic some­times. I’d have to re­lax, read a book, and ac­cept the sit­u­a­tion for what it was.

DID YOU HAVE ANY TECH­NI­CAL CHAL­LENGES EN ROUTE?

Not grow­ing up with boats, the chal­lenges started with ter­mi­nol­ogy and just kept go­ing from there. Boats have me­chan­i­cal sys­tems, elec­tri­cal sys­tems, plumb­ing sys­tems, and the list goes on and on. Like most peo­ple, if I didn’t know how to do some­thing or know what to look for, I asked for help and I learned as I went along.

Above: The au­thor, Tanya Bin­ford.

Be­low: Sun sets over Mo­bile Bay, Alabama.

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