Eight Bells: Patience Wales

The woman who led SAIL magazine “during the time of the boys’ clubs” and was a two-time circumnavi­gator has died.

- —By Carrie Pittman and Bebe Wunderlich

Patience B. Wales, former editor of SAIL magazine and two-time circumnavi­gator, died on February 16, 2024, of colon cancer. She was 89. A native of Massachuse­tts, she lived in Ipswich for 34 years.

Born in Brockton, Massachuse­tts, to Ralph and Retha Bens, she was raised in Randolph with older brothers Richard, David, and Ralph. She loved animals, poetry, and writing and was an excellent student. Accepted into Tu s University, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and learned small boat sailing at that time.

Following a stint at Houghton-mi in in New York City, Patience moved back to Boston in 1957 and married Jim Wales of Marblehead. Inspired by a lecture on circumnavi­gation, the couple, along with Patience’s college roommate, Dr. Bebe Wunderlich and her husband, Kenneth, bought a double-ended, 42-foot, wooden boat named Kismet. In 1963, they headed west over the Paci c to the Indian Ocean, up the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal and European rivers, returning in 1967.

SAIL magazine started in Boston in 1970 and Patience, now divorced, began as a contributi­ng editor. In 1973 she was named managing editor and rose to editor in 1988, making her one of the rst female editors of a major sailing magazine. A colleague remembered, “She was a circumnavi­gator and female editor in the time of the boys’ clubs!” She was credited with shi ing editorial content more toward cruising to appeal to a larger portion of the readership.

“Cosmopolit­an may have had Helen Gurley Brown and Vogue may have had Anna Wintour, but SAIL had Patience Wales—the best hands-on editor you could ever work with,” said Eric Cressy, who worked with Patience for some 15 years in several roles including Northeast regional manager, ad director/associate publisher, and publisher.

In 1974 she met Knowles Pittman, then publisher of Yacht Racing Magazine, and there was an instant connection. ey moved to Revere and planned another circumnavi­gation with Bebe and Kenneth, this time on Boston Light, a Skye 51-foot cutter. Headed to the south seas in 1986, they spent time in French Polynesia, Fiji, Borneo, and Indonesia.

Returning in 1988, she and Knowles married and settled in Ipswich. She retired from SAIL in 2001 a er 28 years. “I’ve had the job to kill for,” she wrote in her nal issue, “sailing, sailing, sailing all over the world.”

roughout her life, she was known as a very high-energy person with a glass-halffull attitude. at, combined with her quick wit and humor, made her a lot of fun to be around and also an extremely e ective person. In Ipswich, she jumped into local politics, became an avid gardener, a yoga devotee, and a feline rescue volunteer.

A er her husband’s death in 2005 she continued traveling, including six trips along the canals of France in self-driven barges. She had just returned from Portugal this past October, holding onto her usual 100 or so euros at the end, “to have for the next trip.”

Patience is survived by her stepdaught­ers Ann Pittman and husband Bob Quillin, Lucia Ratner, and Carrie Pittman. Her stepson Freeman Pittman predecease­d her in 1996. She is also survived by Freeman’s wife, Susan Pittman, and their daughters, Rebecca Pittman and Margaret Pittman; Lucia’s sons Ben Ratner, Sam Ratner, his wife Silvia Ponce and their daughter Vivian; plus, many nieces and nephews. At Patience’s request, there will be no funeral. A celebratio­n of life will be held at a later date. In memoriam donations can be made to Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society, 63 Elm Street, Salisbury, MA 01952, mrfrs. org. To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.

 ?? ?? An inveterate adventurer, Patience Wales twice circumnavi­gated, once on a wooden 42-footer and later on a Skye 51.
An inveterate adventurer, Patience Wales twice circumnavi­gated, once on a wooden 42-footer and later on a Skye 51.
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