Crossing the Wake Q&A with Author Tanya Binford
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.