A Prairie Woman Goes To Sea

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I was born and raised on the Canadian prairie. When I first met John—a very experienced offshore sailor—late in 1996, my only sailing experience had been as ballast on a day trip in Australia.

But when he wanted someone to help sail Morgan’s Cloud, his McCurdy Rhodes Custom 56, from Bermuda to Maine in the early spring of 1997, none of his sailing friends, knowing what early spring conditions are like on this passage, would accompany him, so he had resigned himself to a tiring single-handed trip until I volunteered to go along.

When we left Bermuda early that May, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Would I get seasick? Would I panic when I could no longer see land? What would it be like to be away from other people for almost a week?

Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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Excellent advice. We just bought our first boat, a CAL 25 MkII. While we’ve crewed on other people’s boats enough to know we love sailing, I’d say we know next to nothing at this point. So we plan to take courses and hire qualified sailing instructors to teach us on our boat. We’ll stay in familiar waters until we learn what we need to venture farther. One step a time, and one day a bigger boat…