Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Blogger: Addie Greene, Author of How the Wind Laughed

Addie Greene’s memoir, How the Winds Laughed, which recounts the author’s adventure sailing around the world in a 28-foot boat, began as ninety articles written for the Santa Barbara News-Press. Addie says, “Turning the articles into creative non-fiction with scenes, dialogue, and dramatic tension was like trying to reattach the shed hairs to my golden lab, Daphne. My critique group was of immense help. Then my editor, Molly Tinsley, took over and advised me to turn the dog hair into a fur coat.”

In the beginning, Addie Greene is afraid to climb a mast, even at dock, or change sails on a bucking foredeck washed with breaking waves. Yet as she and her young husband take on the “great adventure” of circumnavigation in a 28-foot boat, a succession of catastrophes demands that she become the driving force in carrying them forward and eventually safely home.

How the Winds Laughed sails on the wings of hope, fear, anger, and love across three oceans and more than 30,000 miles. A coming-of-age quest, it drenches the dreams of Don Quixote with the ignoble reality of Sancho Panza.

The Enemy: Fear
by Addie Greene

During a storm at sea, the assault by the elements is so unrelenting that time stands still. Your morale sinks and so does your threshold of fatigue. You feel your mortality. This is the source of the sea’s power—it takes over your soul and turns it inside out.

In the seventies, my husband, Pete Eastman, and I sailed around the world in our 28-foot boat, Wa, a tale I tell in my memoir How the Winds Laughed. One of my most vivid lessons in fear began in the south Pacific, between the islands of Abemama and Tarawa. The 86-mile trip had begun easily enough, with the wind blowing 20 knots behind us and clumps of thunderheads scudding along the horizon. I sleepily crawled into bed for a nap.

The wind began to build and the seas with it, so that soon the crashing and banging upon the bow made my bed roll and sound as if it were a barrel being dashed down Niagara Falls. By late afternoon Wa had sailed into the line of squalls, and there was little chance Pete could take star sights to fix our position in relation to Maiana, an atoll about 18 miles south of our course. Even in broad daylight Maiana would be visible only from about 10 miles; at night during a storm I feared Wa would be swept onto its reef and dashed to pieces.

Suddenly the wind blasted as if it were going to pick Wa up off the face of the sea.

“Take the tiller!” cried Pete, stumbling forward to take down the sails as the gale carried away his glasses.

“Oh my God, what’s happening?” I yelled . The force of the howling wind had flattened the waves, so that the sea looked quite calm. But it was bubbling on the surface and seemed to seethe underneath with motion. Spray came off its face like smoke. The raindrops pelted so hard they felt like fistfuls of rock salt being hurled by some giant hand.

The seas mounted from 10 feet, to 12, to 15, and then finally the wind abated. Pete put up the jib to give Wa stability, and the 105-square-foot scrap of sail drove us forward at five knots. I still kept a weather eye, looking back and forth from the compass. When a wave larger than the rest came, I turned Wa downwind, petrified that the next wave would roll us over as Wa struggled to right herself.

For eight hours, I was deathly afraid, fear the like of which I never had felt. But I mastered it, kept the ship on course, and in the mastering I touched something deep inside my soul. The sea no longer was my enemy. Fear was my enemy.

To find out more about our adventures, read my memoir, How the Winds Laughed, http://www.fuzepublishing.com.

After growing up close to the land on a California ranch, Addie Greene met a man who taught her the glories of the sea. In 1971, the pair decided to sail around the world in a 28-foot boat. She went on to raise two children and pursue a writing career. She lives in Ashland, Oregon, and though 150 miles inland, she can still hear the winds laugh.

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