|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Woman recounts two-and-a-half years at sea

  • Addie Greene still thinks about how the ocean water looked on a calm day.
    • email print
    • If you go
      What: Talk by Addie Greene on her sailing trip around the world and new book, "How the Winds Laughed"
      When: 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16
      Where: Ashland library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd.
      Sponsored b...
      » Read more
      X
      If you go
      What: Talk by Addie Greene on her sailing trip around the world and new book, "How the Winds Laughed"

      When: 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16

      Where: Ashland library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd.

      Sponsored by: Friends of the Ashland Public Library. For more information, call the Ashland library at 541-774-6996 or visit www.jcls.org.
  • Addie Greene still thinks about how the ocean water looked on a calm day. In the Ashland resident's mind, it's a deep-blue sheet, illuminated by scattered wisps of sunlight that descended below the surface for feet upon feet. "It looks like blue Jell-O," says Greene, now 70. Greene spent a good deal of time on that blue, sun-pierced world during her late 20s. From January 1971 to August 1973, she and her then-husband, Pete Eastman, circumnavigated the globe in a 28-foot boat. They endured numerous repairs and some storms along the way, but also forged relationships and walked among scenic beauty typically reserved for the pages of National Geographic. Greene has since written a book about her journey. She will discuss the 249-page memoir, "How the Winds Laughed," at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, at the Ashland library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd.
    View Addie Greene's journey in a larger map
    The voyage was Eastman's idea.
    It was 1965. His medical school application had just been rejected, and his ambitions changed from study to travel.
    "That was the emphasis for, 'Well, if I can't go to medical school, let's sail around the world,'" Greene said. "Logical conclusion, right?"
    Eastman had been a sailor all his life. His father had passed the passion to his son, who then passed it on to Greene. She learned to sail in a 21-footer in Newport Harbor.
    Eastman talked Greene into it, despite her shock.
    War delayed their plans. Eastman traveled to Vietnam in 1968, just after the last shots from the Tet Offensive had been fired. He originally worked for a pacifist group and was later reassigned to help print a magazine for the U.S. Army, embedding with units in combat zones.
    "That put a total stop to anything," Greene said.
    But Eastman returned in 1969 with $7,500 in hazard pay. The couple saved it and purchased their first boat, the 34-foot, 10-ton Atkin Catch.
    They first set out on July 20, 1969, the day Neil Armstrong's feet hit the lunar surface. They went with two friends, but abandoned ship in Samoa after three months, as they hadn't gotten along. They flew home penniless.
    "But we were determined we were going to do it," Greene said.
    So 15 months later, they purchased a second, smaller boat, dubbing it "Wa." Then they put out to sea a second time on Jan. 10, 1971, two days before Greene's 29th birthday. Their cat, Coco, joined them.
    "We would do what we set out to do," she said.
    They left from Santa Barbara, traveled to Marina del Rey, and out into the Pacific Ocean.
    It wasn't easy at first. There was some wind, and the boat's constant movement nauseated Greene.
    After 36 hours, land disappeared. Greene and Eastman took 12-hour shifts steering the boat. When they weren't on watch, they cleaned, cooked, made repairs and charted their course.
    Their first stop was the Marquesas Islands, part of French Polynesia. They arrived Feb. 11, both excited to see land. Flocks of sea birds circled overhead, diving into the shallows in search of fish. They stayed a month to recharge after their journey's rigorous first leg.
    "You get tired. You need rest," Greene said.
    After making some repairs, they headed out again. It wasn't the last time the boat would need maintenance. The engine, mast and keel bolts all required attention along the way.
    Greene and Eastman made for Penrhyn, the northernmost part of the Cook Islands. Locals "adopted" them, Greene said. They visited the surrounding community and went to church six times on Palm Sunday.
    At nearby Nauru, she toured parliament and visited the phosphate mines, large fields of craters where bulldozers had dug up the deposits.
    They waited out the cyclone season from December 1971 through May 1972 in Rabaul, near Papua New Guinea, then left again. While they waited, they got jobs. Eastman worked as a claims inspector for a company that delivered supplies to outlying islands in the chain. Greene worked as an accounts clerk and wrote collection letters to borrowers in default.
    Before crossing the Indian Ocean, Eastman got stung by a Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish during a swimming trip. He and Greene had to walk a mile after leaving the ocean to find help. Locals helped them pour alcohol on the stingers left behind, which helped wash them away.
    "Fortunately, he had the guts and the stamina to make it back," Greene said.
    Two days after the attack, they were back on the water, working toward the Seychelles Islands, then south to Mozambique and around Africa's southern tip at the Cape of Good Hope. Treacherous seas greeted them there, with waves building to 50 feet in height. The couple tossed water jugs, anchor and chains overboard, and lashed them to the craft to slow the boat's motion down and ride the swells more evenly.
    Greene wore four layers of clothing the night they rounded Good Hope, but the rain soaked through them all. She spent her rest periods wrapped in a wet sail below deck, shivering.
    "There was no place that was dry. It was a dreadful night, but we survived," Greene said.
    They arrived in Cape Town in February 1973, stayed for 11 days, then left for Barbados, a 5,600-mile shot they traveled in 55 days. They then navigated the locks and copious paperwork of the Panama Canal and shot back into the Pacific Ocean. They made stops at Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, where they waited out a hurricane, hit Magdalena and Turtle bays and arrived in San Diego Aug. 15.
    Three days later, they returned to Marina Del Rey, their first point of departure two years before. It was Aug. 18, 1973.
    "It was very sad in some ways," Greene said. "We had had this wonderful, free, open life where we could potentially go anywhere and do anything, and we met all these interesting people and had these fascinating experiences. And we were coming back to a life that would be structured and very narrow."
    The couple divorced in 1979, but they made a trip to the Marquesas Islands with their children five years later, this time in a 40-foot boat.
    "I thought it was very important for the kids to have the experience of being at sea for a long period of time," Greene said. "To see why their father and I are different because we are."
    Greene sold numerous stories about her journey to the Santa Barbara News-Press for $10 apiece. She wrote 90 in all.
    "(That) was the start of the book," she said.
    The memoir will be released this week.
    Eastman still lives in Santa Barbara. He's purchased six boats since the original trip.
    Greene will not make the journey again.
    "I'm too old. On a boat (that) size, you can get beaten to pieces," she said.
    But that doesn't mean she doesn't still think — sometimes even dream — about those vast stretches of blue, how impossibly clear they were on a bright, peaceful day.
    Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.
Reader Reaction

      calendar