Tightwads on The Loose: A Seven Year Pacific Odyssey
Wendy Hinman and naval architect husband, Garth, sail across the Pacific from Seattle because, well, just because they want to. Experienced yachties, they set out on a very tight budget (The Tightwads) in the 31-foot Velella, with no particular destination in mind, leading to a 35,000-mile wander for seven years.
Learning Pidgin English in Vanuatu, the tea ceremony in Japan, dodging corruption in the Philippines and watching helplessly as an albatross dies, becalmed for days in the middle of the ocean, almost being crushed by a behemoth of a container ship. They get into some tough scrapes, but their yin and yang, self-control, and, more importantly, sense of humor, see them through. A sharp contrast to the whining, sozzled yacht cruisers and expatriates infesting marina bars around the world, their boredom vents itself in silly personal feuds.
Wendy and Garth spend two years on the island of Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands – a speck of no interest, which hardly anyone has heard of, except that it’s a U.S. Army base with no seeming purpose. Thousands of government contractors idle the time away propped up by tax dollars. The Tightwads get jobs because they’ve run out of money and need to overhaul the Velella. Their earnings go to, wait for it, building a trailer big enough to lift the boat. A military base on an island without an essential piece of equipment.
The return to the U.S. is bewildering, as they view the hurried, consumer society with fresh eyes. To borrow from Robert Heinlein – strangers in a strange land.
A light-hearted tone and unaffected style make this an entertaining tale and almost a love story. When I go sailing, I know who I want as shipmates.