SSailing hasn’t been a sport of the masses during Cole Brauer’s lifetime. In fact, there’s a full generation of young adults who grew up after the United States’ America’s Cup golden age, after the era when non-sailors and national media followed the sport. Solo ocean racing in particular has always been the purview of the French, and with a few notable exceptions rarely has showcased Americans, let alone as front runners gaining celebrity status. So, it was a surprise to many of us when Cole’s Instagram account rocketed from 10,000 to nearly half a million followers over a handful of months in late 2023 and early 2024. She was competing in the Global Solo Challenge, a solo, nonstop, round-the-world race, and her daily updates quickly captured the attention of the masses. In less than six months, she went from relatively unknown to being featured in The New York Times, People magazine, and on The Today Show. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll mention that I have spent recent months working double duty as SAIL’S managing editor from 9-5 and as Cole’s media manager from 5-9 (Literally. Depending on where in the world she is and what hours of daylight that correspond­s with, my work has rotated around the clock.) But Cole didn’t set out to become a celebrity. She set out to prove a point. Her career as a profession­al sailor had seen the gamut from skepticism to outright dismissal. On smaller circuits, she found she was regularly paid less than her male counterpar­ts, even when they were younger and less experience­d than her. After trying out for an Ocean Race campaign in 2022, she was told that at 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 100 pounds, she was simply too small for the Southern Ocean. “I’d always wanted to sail around the world before I turned 30,” Cole says. “I didn’t specifical­ly want to do it on my own, but if no one was going to take a chance on me, I was going to have to go alone and prove them wrong.”

The proof of concept came in the form of winning the 2023 Bermuda 1-2 with co-skipper Cat Chimney, crossing the line more than 12 hours ahead of the next competitor­s in both legs and becoming the first all-female team to win the event. Cole had been captaining the Class40 First Light (formerly Dragon) long enough to know its strengths and weaknesses intimately, and when new

owners offered to let her compete on the boat during the summer of 2023, she used all of that expertise to her advantage. The Bermuda 1-2 rocketed her to local renown.

“After the Bermuda 1-2, I was just planning to take some time off, but the boat’s owners were like ‘What’s next?’ ” she remembers. “They really encouraged me to dream bigger.”

Cole and I met in person for the first time in September 2023 when she was preparing First Light for the transatlan­tic shakedown that would take her to the start of the Global Solo Challenge. The shed of Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard was buzzing with activity in the late summer heat, and she took a break from packing the boat to give me and SAIL Editor-in-chief Wendy Mitman Clarke a tour. What struck me most—more than her spirited demeanor, big dreams, or off-the-cuff expertise in all things First Light— was the loyalty she inspired in her team. Even then, before the race or the media spectacle started, she exuded a charisma that drew people in. That would become the hallmark of her campaign around the world.

The Global Solo Challenge began on August 26 when the first competitor, Dafydd Hughes, set out from A Coruña, Spain. The event was organized with a pursuit start, assigning each competitor a start date based on their boat’s speed rating. Cole’s race began two months later, on October 29, when she and six other competitor­s made up the largest starting cohort of the race. Of the 20 boats originally registered for the race, ultimately only 16 made it to the race

course, and at press time only half were still in the running to reach the finish. There have been dismasting­s, autopilot failures, medical issues, and the constant looming pressure of the time gates meant to keep sailors on track and out of the Southern Ocean during the more dangerous months.

All that is to say that making it to the end of an event like the Global Solo Challenge is a feat on its own, before taking into account that upon finishing, Cole would become the first American woman to race solo nonstop around the world. As the youngest and only female skipper in the race, she was something of an oddity.

Before the race, she’d told me she wanted to be a different kind of ocean racer. “You see people in these races and they’re always so serious. They’re exhausted, they’re miserable. I don’t want to be like that. What’s the point in having an adventure like this if you’re not going to enjoy it?” I couldn’t argue with that logic. “I want to show people that they can have their dreams, and they can also find time to watch Netflix while they’re doing it. That it’s OK to take care of yourself and enjoy being out there.”

Cole’s painted nails, laundry days, on-deck dance parties, and bubbly demeanor certainly raised some eyebrows, but it also set her apart as a new kind of ocean racer, someone relatable and human. We watched the demographi­c breakdown of her Instagram followers closely in the early days of the race and noted that there were two kinds of people particular­ly captivated by her story, women her age, and men her parents’ age—the people who saw themselves in her, and the people who were most surprised to see someone like her doing what she was doing. Once again, she had something to prove.

It only took a few weeks to realize her account was a runaway train. Our shore team checked in every day to note the latest sailor she’d surpassed in followers. Olympians, Vendée Globe sailors, Sailgp, the America’s Cup, her own mentors and role models...20,000 became 50,000, then 100,000. One day she had as many followers as an 11th Hour Racing Team sailor, and shortly after she had as many as the whole team combined.

And then there was no one left. We couldn’t find a single competitiv­e sailor, campaign, or class with a bigger Instagram following than Cole. She’d cracked the social media code and, for the first time in a long time, a racer had crossed the line to mass appeal. Over and over again we heard people say, “I’m not a sailor, I don’t know how you ended up on my page, but I am so inspired by what you’re doing.”

The trade winds were gorgeous, the doldrums were brief, and aside from a stint with suspected food poisoning in the first week,

In awe of your composure, resourcefu­lness, bravery, and positivity. Following closely from the sailing capital of the

US, Annapolis, Maryland. —davek4211

life in the Atlantic suited Cole. For a month she dueled fellow American skipper Ronnie Simpson south, managing to stay ahead as they turned east and rounded the Cape of Good Hope.

That’s where the race’s drama took a turn, shifting from a sailing race to a boat-fixing race. Ronnie’s mainsail ripped. For Cole, first it was the autopilot, then a rudder reference. The former resulted in one particular­ly bad broach that tossed Cole across the boat, badly injuring her ribs in a car-crash-level impact. She lay still for a long while after, praying this wasn’t the end of her race, unsure if she’d be able to move if she tried.

All of it was captured by the on-board cameras.

We shared some of the footage of the incident online, but not all of it. Some of it was too violent, some too difficult to watch. But Cole had been candid about the highs and lows up until that point, and she wanted to be truthful with her viewers about how shaken she was by the incident.

“I’m OK, checked in with the medical team, the boat’s OK, everything’s fine, but you can never lose respect for the ocean, that is for sure,” she told them later that day.

It was about that time in the race that we saw an influx of what the team affectiona­tely called “Cole’s internet parents.” The comments were full of worriers, advice givers, and cheerleade­rs. So

“I show my eight-year-old daughter your videos. I never had this kind of inspiratio­n as a young girl. You make me so excited for her future.” —cathysurge­onerdesign

proud of you! Where’s your tether? Haven’t seen an update today, is everything OK?

The follower demographi­cs had shifted, equalizing across ages and genders, but the 55- to 65-year-old women were her champions. “I think for some of them, they see me out here following my dreams, and they didn’t have the opportunit­ies that I have, so it means a lot to them to see me doing it,” Cole says.

As she navigated the cascading weather systems of the Southern Ocean, another issue cropped up. Her hydrogener­ator started its rocky decline, needing days on end of maintenanc­e and rebuilding. Ultimately, she was sailing too fast for the turbine, putting it in constant danger of overheatin­g. But with no hydrogener­ator and the dense cloud cover in the south, there was little power to spare. Cole had to ration her electricit­y, shutting down Starlink for stretches of time to make sure she could continue running her instrument­s or watermaker.

Sailors generally don’t expect to have constant connectivi­ty between an offshore boat and those of us warm and dry at home, but Cole’s following wasn’t primarily made up of sailors. Reaching outside of the sailing world turned out to be a double-edged sword. Many of the followers were used to influencer­s whose main job was to create content, not profession­al athletes who were doing it as a fun side project mid-competiton. During the whole race she never went more than 24 hours without a post, but even that wasn’t enough to keep the worrying at bay.

On the approach to Cape Horn, Cole and her weather router, Chelsea Freas, made the tricky tactical decision that she should hold back for a day to position First Light just so in order to slalom two massive systems while rounding the most famously treacherou­s passage on Earth. During that time, she was in low-power mode, unsure

“You’ve helped bring a whole new audience and level of engagement to ocean sailing.” —davek4211

when she’d be able to get back online. e tsunami of comments and questions was overwhelmi­ng, and Chelsea and I did our best to keep people calm and answer as many questions as possible, but we knew they wouldn’t be happy until they heard Cole’s chipper, “Good morning!” and saw her signature shaka again.

ere was undoubtedl­y pressure on Cole to maintain constant ow of content, and most days I think it was a welcome creative outlet for her, helping to stave o isolation and monotony. But when things were stressful or the conditions were especially rough, it created a perfect storm of people having the most concerns just as Cole had the least bandwidth to assuage them.

As she continued the long slog north through the Atlantic, she was met with boat-breaking conditions—in some cases worse than the Southern Ocean because of the angle of the sea state or mountains of sargasso seaweed requiring near constant backdowns. In one week in late February, the race lost three competitor­s, including Ronnie, who was dismasted a er days of battling intense storms in the south Atlantic. Five boats, a third of the eet, retired in February. A er more than 100 days at sea for most of them, it was hard to watch and a very real reminder that you can never get complacent.

From dancing on deck in a pink dress on New Year’s Eve to live streaming her rounding of Cape Horn, her race has been full of show-stopping moments, all of them rich with Cole’s signature brand of joie de vivre. But she never let documentin­g her adventure get in the way of actually sailing it. On the contrary, the fact that she was having fun kept her motivated and dialed in. She’d stayed ahead of the rest of the October 29th pack and spent the Indian Ocean picking o competitor­s one by one. By the time she passed south of Hobart where Dafydd was stopped for repairs, she’d climbed to second place on the leader board.

Ultimately, Philippe Delamare’s Actual 46, Mowgli, proved uncatchabl­e, completing the race in 147 days. At press time, Cole was poised to nish second in 130 days. Even with an assigned start a whole month a er Philippe, she made up half the di erence. In addition to being the rst American woman to race solo nonstop

“I am not into sailing; however I came across your feed and am fascinated by what you are doing and love the daily post. You are teaching us land lovers as you go which is cool.” —pappaschu

around the globe, Cole also set a new Class40 circumnavi­gation record, shaving seven days off the previous best.

Cole attributes much of her skill on the racecourse to having so many miles on First Light ahead of the race during her time as its captain. They are old friends. She can anticipate changes in the conditions or needed maintenanc­e just by the changing sounds of the boat. Also in her corner is the financial backing of a private sponsor, which is particular­ly hard to come by for American sailors. Hopefully her success will help pave the way for more corporate interest in sponsoring future campaigns on this side of the Atlantic.

Another game changer on First Light was Starlink. We had near constant connection to her around the world save for the interrupti­ons in her ability to power the system. This access would’ve been unimaginab­le just a decade ago.

There’s no doubt these technologi­cal advances have made it possible to showcase offshore sailing like never before, and Cole will be the first to tell you the connection­s she’s made with her supporters along the way have been some of the most joyful, touching parts of her adventure. But it does beg the question of whether her unpreceden­ted success has set an impossible standard for the future of campaign media. Is it going to become the norm that these athletes must also be social media stars? And how will it change that delicate sponsorshi­p ecosystem?

As for what’s next for Cole, she’s taking a little time off to catch her breath and adjust to her newfound fame. But she plans to be racing again by summer and is exploring the idea of upgrading to IMOCA 60 sailing with an eye towards launching a Vendée Globe campaign for another go around the world in a few years.

“I don’t know much about sailing, but your attitude and strength have really inspired me since I started following you. Can’t wait to see more!” —lace.up_03

Fun fact: The island of Newfoundla­nd is home to zero snakes, zero ticks, and zero skunks. Like a dog, I do best when kept clear of this trio of critters, and that was reason enough for me to sail up and pay a visit. For my wife, Alex, the idea of sailing our 36-foot boat to Atlantic Canada sounded foreboding, damp, and unpleasant­ly untropical. In her mind, critters, or lack thereof, didn’t justify subjecting ourselves to such a rigorous coast.

FMore research was needed, so we set ourselves to reading. We learned about the history, climate, and geography of the place easily enough, and then we stumbled upon Canadian author Farley Mowat. His portrayal of life on Newfoundla­nd and in the waters that surround it captivated us. The more we read, the more we knew we had to see this place with our own eyes. So we pointed our bow north last summer to explore the coast that Mowat wrote so fondly of and once called home. It would be our first literary pilgrimage under sail.

“Newfoundla­nd remains a true sea-province, perhaps akin to that other lost sea-province called Atlantis,” Mowat writes, “but Newfoundla­nd, instead of sinking into the green depths, was somehow blown adrift to fetch up against our shores, there to remain in unwilling exile, always straining back towards the east.”

Few write about “the hungry ocean” of the North Atlantic with the same reverence and awe as Mowat. The man was a sailor. The full fury of the sea screeches out of his pen in one line, and humorous tribulatio­ns with boat failures fill the next. The harbors, boats, and people who call Newfoundla­nd home are keenly understood and shared across the page with fervor. There was no one better to guide us as we voyaged into those cold, unfamiliar Canadian waters than the Sage of Burgeo, the de facto magister navis of Newfoundla­nd himself, Farley Mowat.

Mind The Sunkers

The Grey Seas Under, Mowat’s disquietin­g, nonfiction narrative about the arduous life of a Canadian salvage tug in the “Western Ocean” before and during WWII, confirmed Alex’s suspicion about the foreboding nature of the place. I kept that title from her for a bit, and at the same time prepared for the worst. We added immersion suits to our safety equipment, updated our float plan on our 406 devices, double-checked the expiration dates on our flares, purchased a few extra cans of soup, and headed north.

Sailing along the foggy Nova Scotia coast reminded us of Maine, until the hills gained elevation in Cape Breton and offered an intriguing hint of something new. Then we crossed the notorious Cabot Strait and made landfall on the bold, barren, and stunningly beautiful coast of Newfoundla­nd.

“Poised like a mighty granite stopper over the bell-mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” as Mowat eloquently writes. It was a place unlike anything we had ever seen. We felt far away from home— like on the moon, far away from home—and knew that help could be hard to find if we were to need it.

I shared my concerns with a new friend in Francois about navigating his native Newfoundla­nd waters. He shrugged them off and told me, “Ahh b’y, go easy on the screech and mind the sunkers and you’ll be fine.” The screech, a local high-test rum delicacy, I had already learned about. It was the “sunkers” that alarmed me. Mowat had made mention of them too, bemoaning the “dreadful explicitne­ss” of

their naming. A sunker, as I’ve come to learn, is an uncharted rock lurking dangerousl­y just beneath the surface of the sea.

The Canadian Hydrograph­ic Service charts didn’t instill much confidence. Some sections of the depicted coast had an antiquated look like what you might find in an old map shop, perhaps labeled, “Not For Navigation­al Use.” And yet here they were being offered up to me for navigation­al use. A note on the chart explained their limitation­s this way: “Mariners are advised to exercise caution. The area bounded by pecked line is a metric reproducti­on of a former U.S. Chart 2418, based on British Admiralty surveys conducted between 1860 and 1891 and is not surveyed to modern standards.”

Well, blow me down! Surely things on Navionics are better. They are not. I looked on my plotter and on my phone app and found the same feeble renditions. They looked about as helpful and reliable as a hand-drawn sketch by Admiral Nelson.

To add to the unease, aids to navigation are few and far between in Canada, and the ones provided are small, often off-station, and hard to find. Channels and harbor approaches are only hinted at or simply left unmarked altogether. And as Mowat points out, Newfoundla­nd is “t’place where t’fog is made.”

As it worked out, we managed to skirt the sunkers and didn’t touch bottom once during our three months in Canada. Claire Mowat, Farley’s wife, put it this way in her book The Outport People: “Dan didn’t know where all the rocks were, he told us later on, but he knew where they weren’t.” That was the key; if we followed the obvious routes from place to place, we could be pretty sure that someone else would have found the rock first, and news of its existence would have been shared on the chart. Gunkholing off into the wilds is where the good hunting for the sunkers can still be found. We weren’t stalking that prize though, and we stayed clear of the regions marked by the pecked line.

There be Berries in Them Thar Hills

According to Farley Mowat, Newfoundla­nders have a saying that a voyage badly begun will come to a good conclusion: “Bad beginning—good ending.” Adhering to that logic can be tricky business, but we managed to pull it off by heading straight to the hospital on day one in Newfoundla­nd. Not only does the cold fog off the coast of Nova Scotia in June make you feel like you’re living inside a ping-pong ball for weeks on end, it can also induce a fever-spiking pneumonia in your crew’s lung. Fortunatel­y, they had some good pills at the little hospital in Port aux Basque and we were back to full strength in short order.

Port aux Basque is a ferry port town and as such serves as Newfoundla­nd’s main link to the outside world. The ferry itself is massive and what Mowat describes as a “monstrosit­y…about as kindly as an old goat with a sore udder; and just about as beautiful.” When the massive beast arrives, the whole harbor shudders violently in its wake. Fortunatel­y, a quieter place to convalesce lies only 8 miles east near the awkwardly name Isle aux Morts. We were still within range of the hospital should we need to return, but we were also in a spectacula­r anchorage. Mickle’s Tickle, as it’s called, is surrounded by rolling hills of tundra dotted with small groves of stunted spruce trees.

We happened to arrive during peak bakeapple berry season. This cousin to the cloudberry can only be found in Newfoundla­nd and

Iceland and is known to produce a highly prized jam. Catching these berries is so profitable that during the harvest season, the local fishing fleet pivots from fish to berries.

We witnessed the process firsthand: A pair of small fishing boats would arrive in our anchorage every day and tie off to the bushes along the shore. Then the crew of two or three would hop off and wander the hills for a day of berry picking. You don’t see this practice often among the fishermen in New Bedford or Gloucester in my home state of Massachuse­tts, and it was made all the more startling thanks to an optical illusion: The dwarf spruce trees that lightly populate these hills, stunted by the vicious winter weather on this coast, stand only about 4 feet tall. But from a distance they appear to be normal spruces that would tower above a normal man. In Newfoundla­nd, it is the berry-picking fishermen who tower above the stunted trees, and the effect makes the fishermen appear as giants.

Following their lead, I whiled away an afternoon bounding through the pleasantly snake-free, tick-free, skunk-free shire picking berries that I hoped would aid in my wife’s recovery to good health. The tundra was surprising­ly dry and spongy and easy to walk on—even in Crocs. The western end of this coast is built of low, rolling hills broken up by many small islands and bays. Further east, the land gains elevation and towering fjords cut seductivel­y inland. The land remains equally accessible from east to west and the hiking ashore is excellent most everywhere.

As we began our meandering east along the coast, we found more surprises. The Labrador Current and the ice water that it delivers from the North Pole was less of a problem than we had feared. Much of our chosen cruising grounds, including the coast of Cape Breton and the entire south coast of Newfoundla­nd, lies to the west of this cold current and is instead washed by the warmer waters flooding out of the Saint Lawrence River. Ironically for us, the further north we got, the warmer it got.

After the chill of Nova Scotia in June, our days in Newfoundla­nd in July and August were warmed by dry westerly winds that blew the fog away. The temperatur­es soared and felt about the same as Maine in the summer. And much like Maine, all the near-shore islands and bays made it easy to get out of the raw open sea and into warm, calm, and protected anchorages.

Inland swimming holes were plentiful, and the heads of the fjords and the back “tickles” of the bays were fed, often spectacula­rly, by cascading ponds, streams, and waterfalls from those warm inland waters. We swam more in Newfoundla­nd than we had anywhere since departing the Bahamas in the spring—like the memorable afternoon back-float in Hare Bay after a long hike, staring up the 2,000-foot wall of the fjord, watching three different waterfalls thundering down.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the trip was our visit to the Sandbanks Provincial Park where the rocky coast took a break and was displaced by miles of sandy beaches wrinkled up into perfect crescents separated by high dunes covered in beach grass. The Mowats lived near here during their five years ashore in Burgeo and would walk their dog, Albert, along these beaches daily. The sun was warm, and people were swimming here too. It was a scene straight out of a Martha’s Vineyard summer tourist pamphlet with a few stunted spruce trees thrown in around the edges for Canadian charm.

A Caribou for a Bridesmaid

Mowat’s prized, hilarious book The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float plays out along the south coast of Newfoundla­nd—the most remote part of the island. Few roads exist, and the only way to reach most of the outport villages that dot this coast is by boat or helicopter. “Tiny fishing villages clinging like cold treacle to the wave-battered cliffs of the great island,” is how Mowat describes these places.

The history of this region revolves around the rise and fall of the fishing industry that episodical­ly had a foothold in these villages. Life was never easy for the people who lived there. “We don’t be takin’ nothin’ from the sea. We has to sneak up on what we wants and wiggle it away,” explains one resident quoted by Mowat. Then in the early 1990s the cod fishery collapsed and life got harder. People moved away to look for work elsewhere, and the human population dwindled with the fish population.

The Canadian government is eager to discontinu­e services to the outport villages and has a standing offer to pay outport citizens a sizable sum to abandon their property and relocate elsewhere. Once 90% of the residents in any given village vote in favor of taking the resettleme­nt money, the government pays the people and then effectivel­y shuts down the town by discontinu­ing ferry service, electricit­y service, water, education, and healthcare. Some towns have taken the deal and others have not.

The abandoned ghost towns are still reachable by a cruising boat like ours, and we sailed in and visited a few. Decay is on the march in these places, and the surroundin­g landscape is seeping in. It’s easy to see how in short order these villages will be dismantled by the harsh weather and simply swallowed up by the land. Mowat describes the remaining fleet in such places this way: “The vessels

were so old and tired that piss-a-beds (the local name for dandelions) were sprouting from their decks, or they were taking a wellearned rest on the harbour bottom.”

In 2009, the 31 residents of Grand Bruit voted to accept resettleme­nt and move away. Today, most of their empty houses still stand and caribou roam the footpaths between them. A series of cascading ponds in the hills above the village feed a brook that cuts between the buildings and falls forcefully into the harbor. This chute of white water is the only thing working in town, and its hauntingly beautiful rush provides the only noise. The steeple has blown off the church roof, but the church doors remain unlocked and operable. Inside, we found a guest book, signed and dated mostly by visiting sailors like ourselves. I also noted mention of a recent wedding. Perhaps a young couple “from away” was doing their part to topple the Wedding Industrial Complex and enjoy an abundance of privacy for their DIY nuptials in the middle of a summer cruise in the middle of nowhere.

A handful of former residents return from time to time to Grand Bruit, making the open water trip by private boat from where the road ends at Rose Blanche 20 miles to the west. They camp out in their old, and now dark, houses in the fair summer months. A solitary man greeted us warmly upon our arrival at the derelict pier and was eager to talk. We smiled back but could hardly understand a word he said. The language was ostensibly English, but flared with an Irish brogue and filled with local idioms that made it challengin­g to comprehend. (We did come to appreciate that the name of the province is pronounced with the emphasis on the final syllable. Remember it this way: UNDERSTAND Newfoundla­nd.)

It seemed like a lonely place for this man to be with just the caribou for company.

The residents in the settlement­s that remain show a tenacious dedication to their villages and to their unconnecte­d way of life. When we visited the tiny settlement of Ramea, the wharfinger (Canadian term for harbormast­er) rowed over to collect the minimal wharfage fee for the night. He could have come by foot because we were tied to the wharf, but he came by boat. He could have approached using the rather large boat’s modern outboard motor, but

said motor was tilted up and he approached by oar. I’m a big rower myself and I compliment­ed his method. In reply he mumbled something about saving fuel. That made good sense to me: It was a calm afternoon and he wasn’t going far so why not row?

The House

After several summers of sailing the south coast of Newfoundla­nd in a willful, obstrepero­us wreck of an old sailboat sardonical­ly named Happy Adventure, Farley, his new bride, Claire, and their dog Albert decided to uproot themselves from their native Ontario and move permanentl­y to Burgeo, Newfoundla­nd. In The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, Mowat describes the decision this way:

“During the succeeding four summers, Happy Adventure held me to a stalemate. My cry was ‘ Westward Ho!’—and hers was, ‘Westward No!’ She would go east like a lamb, but west she would not go under any circumstan­ces. After the second summer we all but gave up trying. We gradually settled into Burgeo ways and became, perforce, real outport residents. Memories of the mainland began to dim. We forgot how and why we came to Burgeo in the first place. We three sailed Happy Adventure along the coast—to the eastward—exploring the mighty fiords that split the rock face of the iron-bound seaboard…she gave us almost no troubles during these years. She did not sink a single time, and her leaks and other crotchets remained manageable. She was apparently content and, it must be admitted, so were we—until the spring of 1967.”

Alex and I eventually made our way to Burgeo too. Like any good sailing literary pilgrims, we naturally wanted to find the house that Farley, Claire, and Albert lived in during the five years they were residents of this town. From what I read, I understood the house to be white, to have a sign out front that inexplicab­ly said “Cape Horn,” and for it to sit on a plot of land near Messers Cove. With our boat secured nearby, we headed out on foot in that direction.

The Mowats left town in 1967, and houses can be repainted a different color, and signs can be changed or removed, so we knew some local guidance would be helpful. Unfortunat­ely, there is no Google-translate between regular-way English and Newfoundla­nd

English, and we struggled to understand the directions we pried out of the people we met.

Everyone in town seemed to know of Farley Mowat, but the directions we received were not only difficult to discern but also seemed vague and conflictin­g. Then when people found out that we were originally from Boston, they lost interest in Mowat altogether and instead just wanted to talk Bruins hockey. We ended up suspecting that a red and sign-less house might have been where the Mowats lived years ago. But we also had a lingering suspicion that a brown house a couple of doors down could have been the spot. We snapped a photo of the red one and walked back towards our boat with an empty feeling of ambiguity. Additional reading led us to learn that Farley Mowat is not a favorite son of Burgeo, and there may have been a sinister motive beneath the vague directions we received during our search for his house.

A Whale Named Moby Joe

Alex and I departed Newfoundla­nd with a perfect late-summer overnight sail to the Magdalen Islands in Quebec with Atlantic white-sided dolphins in our bow wave and gratitude thumping in our hearts. From there, we ultimately made it back to the tropics unscathed. The Mowats left Newfoundla­nd by the same mode and sailed in the same direction years earlier, but the mood aboard their boat was decidedly different; morale on Happy Adventure in 1967 was low.

Farley was a lifelong advocate for animal rights. He was also a man who wasn’t afraid to speak out for what he believed in on any subject—a habit that regularly caused friction in smalltown Burgeo. One February day in 1967 when a pregnant fin whale swam into Burgeo harbor and became stranded, the issue came to a head. Mowat writes: [The whale] “provided an irresistib­le target for the guns of a handful of Burgeo men until I interceded and stopped the shooting. Unhappily it stopped too late and the whale died of her wounds.”

Mowat had contacts in the press and his outrage over this incident quickly brought media attention from all around the world focusing in upon tiny Burgeo. The dead whale gained the nickname “Moby Joe” and the gunmen were vilified the world over. Mowat ultimately wrote a book about the incident entitled A Whale For The Killing. Many in Burgeo consider their depiction in the book to be slanderous, and that has cemented Mowat’s legacy in town to this day.

The rotting carcass of the whale was towed to a spot near Mowat’s house where it festered all of the summer of 1967. The stench was intolerabl­e and tension in town was high. So Farley, Claire, and Albert unhappily packed themselves back aboard Happy Adventure, dropped lines, and forced her out to sea in a westerly direction, against her nature. And, just like that, Newfoundla­nd was free of snakes, ticks, skunks…and Mowats.

’Twas a metaphoric­al sunker, you might say, and it made for a hard ending; something not all that uncommon in brutal and beautiful Newfoundla­nd.

II am sailing with Robin Lee Graham, but there is no wind. It’s a hot day in July and Montana’s Flathead Lake is glass. The mountains around us are blurred by haze. A wildfire burns to our east. Robin’s blue eyes light up—he’s spotted catspaws ahead. The little puff fills our sails just briefly and we glide on the momentum. We are sailing Magnolia, a 20-foot mahogany knockabout that Robin meticulous­ly restored. Robin is used to sailing alone. We know him from National Geographic covers in the ’70s, or The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone on childhood bookshelve­s, or Dove, the memoir and the movie. In 1965, when he was 16 years old, Robin Lee Graham left southern California to sail around the world alone. On that voyage, which took five years, two boats, and three masts, he met Patti. They married in South Africa, halfway through the circumnavi­gation. They have now been married for 55 years. We haven’t traveled far from the dock, where Patti and their daughter Quimby still stand. Robin’s grandchild­ren, Isaiah and Annika, are aboard with us. Unfazed, they watch their grandfathe­r bounce around us to adjust a halyard, a sheet, the tiller. I am blinking harder and more often than usual to make sure I’m awake. I am sailing with Robin Lee Graham. He asks if I want to take the tiller, adding bashfully, “I know this is no transatlan­tic.” I grew up with stories of ocean cross

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 ?? ?? Cole’s journey around the world has resulted in some spectacula­r sights, above. Before the race kicked off, there was a lot of hard work to get the boat in shape, right.
Cole’s journey around the world has resulted in some spectacula­r sights, above. Before the race kicked off, there was a lot of hard work to get the boat in shape, right.
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 ?? ?? Clockwise from above:cole had to be an expert in everything from electronic­s to mechanics to skipper on First Light; she was the youngest and only female skipper in the race; her Instagram has chronicled the ups and downs of four months at sea.
Clockwise from above:cole had to be an expert in everything from electronic­s to mechanics to skipper on First Light; she was the youngest and only female skipper in the race; her Instagram has chronicled the ups and downs of four months at sea.
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 ?? ?? Clockwise from left: Cole says being small doesn’t keep her from doing anything, she just needs to find her own way to do it sometimes; she was able to live stream her Cape Horn rounding; Cole’s success in the Bermuda 1-2 launched her into offshore racing fame.
Clockwise from left: Cole says being small doesn’t keep her from doing anything, she just needs to find her own way to do it sometimes; she was able to live stream her Cape Horn rounding; Cole’s success in the Bermuda 1-2 launched her into offshore racing fame.
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 ?? ?? Clockwise from above: The dinghy waits ashore with the mother ship anchored near a waterfall; Christophe­r and Alex try on their survival suits; Alex enjoys one of the stunning beaches. Previous pages: The literary pilgrims grab a selfie with their boat way down there by the arrow; sailing into a Newfoundla­nd sunrise.
Clockwise from above: The dinghy waits ashore with the mother ship anchored near a waterfall; Christophe­r and Alex try on their survival suits; Alex enjoys one of the stunning beaches. Previous pages: The literary pilgrims grab a selfie with their boat way down there by the arrow; sailing into a Newfoundla­nd sunrise.
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 ?? ?? The town of Francois clings to the treeless hillside in Francois Fjord, top. Fogbound sailing was common offshore, far left. Many charts are based on surveys from the 1800s, left. Good news is, the rocks don’t move.
The town of Francois clings to the treeless hillside in Francois Fjord, top. Fogbound sailing was common offshore, far left. Many charts are based on surveys from the 1800s, left. Good news is, the rocks don’t move.
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 ?? ?? Clockwise from top left: A smiling Robin Lee Graham sails on Flathead Lake; Patti trims Robin’s hair during a circumnavi­gation stop; dinner at the Graham’s as the author reads the logbook with Robin and Patti’s son Ben and his wife, Maggie; Robin was just 16 when he set off in Dove, a 24-foot Bill Lapworth design; Robin’s son Ben learns celestial in Baja last year; Robin taking a sight on Dove.
Clockwise from top left: A smiling Robin Lee Graham sails on Flathead Lake; Patti trims Robin’s hair during a circumnavi­gation stop; dinner at the Graham’s as the author reads the logbook with Robin and Patti’s son Ben and his wife, Maggie; Robin was just 16 when he set off in Dove, a 24-foot Bill Lapworth design; Robin’s son Ben learns celestial in Baja last year; Robin taking a sight on Dove.

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