I seek your help in support of women and children's rights to pursue happiness. We must work together in finding ways to join forces, to live in a peaceful world, allow every talent to be realized and every hand developed with the tools they posess to help themselves and others. Help me with support and ideas to promote knowledge of organizations supporting these goals.
Notes of inspiration from Donna
May 6, 2006 - Donna Lange
Hello To All,
New Zealand is truly the country of Hospitality. A place where the service is given from their whole heart because, as they say "I just couldn't sleep at night if ...." they didn't give you a fair deal and kind genuine smile. What an amazing country. The coastline is breathtaking. I can't wait to venture out by land and see the north shores I saw from the sea.
It was an incredible last month on the sea, since I last wrote. I believe the most profound reality out there came to be that no matter how hard it may have seemed, and it was so physically demanding, there was always a consolation. It could always have been worse. Through the wonderful input from Tom and Stu forwarding forecasts, I was able to avoid "EVERY" storm centre that came my way. No matter how challenging it was, I was dealing with a cold front or trough from the storm centre, not the most intense parts of the storms. The 2 gales around Cape Hope were cold fronts off a Low centre much farther south. The storm that caught Dee Caffari because she was heading into it, I was able to step aside and allow to pass over me. I lost several days to it but was ever so grateful not take on it's full brunt. Through the Ausi Basin, Bass Strait and Tasman Sea I faced 5 gales and then incredible headwinds, but I was avoiding the massive 3 fold Lows that pummelled Tasmania one after another. It was certainly hard to be under such strong winds and 20' seas, but I was avoiding the force 9-10 winds and 50'ers south of me. Once over the top of NZ, the trauma was that I expected NW winds that never materialized. I was just worn out and frustrated wallowing in no winds, headwinds, managing the heavy squalls and rains of the thunder and lightening storms as I tried to make my way across the north coast and down the east coast. I did get the engine up, running resolving the airlock and swapping filters clogged from the sediment and organic growth in the old fuel. It was disappointing to have to keep extending my landing, and then finally pull off in Opua, though not for the lack of the beauty of the Bay of Islands. I weathered still one more huge storm on 4/28 in their harbour and made my way into Opua at dawn on 4/29. The care and concern the local rescue squad and Whangerei Maritime Radio showed was amazing, alerting all shipping traffic to my position as I was hove to in the harbour north of Cape Brett. They returned several of my calls all through the night to update my position. Once I was under way in the morn, a customs boat met me straightaway to get me a local chart and their entrance pack. They were very kind. It was a lovely motor sail into the harbour. I had to pull over the first boat that came close enough to holler to. It turned out they were American in background and by the end of our chat I had invites to dinner and a few days later, it was Chuck and Dianne who gave me a hand cleaning my fuel and getting the boat ready for the trip to Auckland. All of the cruising community must have been listening to the VHF as I was arriving for I was warmly welcomed. Even before I got off the custom dock, I had helpful hands to take lines. The officials were fantastic. My neighbouring boat, hailing from Canada, made sure I had a proper New Zealand courtesy flag. And the marina staff was in no hurry, giving me proper time to get signed in and insurance set up. Suzanne, my New Zealand saviour, arrived by mid afternoon and brought groceries, my CC and was that warm NZ welcome you all were so glad to know would be awaiting me. She has been beyond words, a wonder. The first night, it was my Canadian neighbour, sv_Cookie Cutter, that started my re-cooperation with a wonderful home-cooked, nutritious meal for Suz and I, and a lively jam session to boot. The second night, after a message arranged by Suz, was a cruising club dinner night, where I was honoured and another brilliant jam session, kept even the chef out half the night. At this point, the weather was ominous and it was a consideration that I would stay in Opua, or leave my boat there and go by car to Auckland, But the very next day I got a call from Suz, "Donna, the TV is still interested in doing a show, You need to get here as soon as you can. We have a marina available to help and a haul out facility." I really wasn't rested well at all, but I changed gears. I had just a 36 hour window to get to Auckland. Not much wind but from the N, NW. If I left first thing the next morn I could get there. Suddenly, I only had a few hours of light and I needed to get the fuel polished and the alternator belt changed out, the hatch recalked and set so I could leave in the morn. That is when Chuck and Dianne arrived. We were going to go for lunch but instead, we buckled down to the work at hand. Within a few hours, it was done. The engine roared. I got together with new friends for a drink that evening and then joined a Danish fellow for his fresh baked bread and herring for dinner and great chat. I was off to bed early.
It was a long trip down the coast. Exhaustion overtook me early. I was just not recovered enough to pull an all-nighter motor sailing, through squall line after squall line. I couldn't use the steering vane effectively and the winds were on a beam but varying. It required my full attention, with the constant need to chart as I crept through the islands and lights down the coast through the night, but it kept me alert. With the dawn, I was only 25nm away from Auckland and pushing the engine and sail to keep above 5kn. Suz was right there on the phone with waypoints from Rod, a seasoned coastal sailor. They would meet me at the entrance to the channel to Auckland. I was way ahead of our conservative schedule, so she had to get the TV crew moving along. I got to our rendezvous and they said to just chill there. Sure enough, within an hour a green Stewart 34' "Phantasy"and a white and red motor boat came along and I was on TV. I was a wreck, exhausted and it was raining so I was donned in full weather gear. The TV crew came on board just as a series of squalls came up. It took a bit for me to get the boat under control with 2 people in the cockpit and needing to get the sails in in such a hurry but the crew was amazingly versatile and I was able to get her tied up and safe so we could talk and no one get hurt with the boom and such. I had to trust that whatever I said would be all right. I really was off guard. It was still squalling and heavily raining at times. We took 2 hours to motor into the harbour as they filmed and we chatted. Lorna White, the interviewer and her cameraman were really wonderful. The show was on the TV a couple of nights later and was fine. The show can be viewed on the internet and I will get a copy as well. I only wish I had given more thanks. It was only a few minutes piece.
The TV crew stayed with me right to the dock at Westhaven Marina where I was given 2 complimentary nights on the dock. We had a nice farewell with Lorna and I got to finally meet Rod and Steve, and Louise, who I had met while in Opua, and all who had gone out on Rod's boat with Suz. I collected a few things and we were off to "home", Louise's home in Northcote Point, on the outskirts of Auckland City. A nice meal and gentle chat and I was tossed into a hot bath, tucked into bed with heating pads with firm instructions to
sleep in as late as I wanted. I was in a daze I think. A fantasyland of kind smiles and genuine help. I awoke to breakfast in bed, tea and more instructions to take it easy.
I was going to have to take it easy. At this point, the tension of the all night trip down had set in harshly and I was really sore. My neck and back were just seized up. I don't think I have ever experienced such knots. I couldn't move. As I managed to get out of bed and loosen up I realized I was in for a healing time. Besides some gentle stretching, a short massage with a recommended Dr and shopping for some vitamins, I was useless. But I needed to be good to go the next day. Suz had all the arrangements made and I met Les, who is on the committee for Milford Marina. A veteran sailor, boat owner, Linda, would accompany me the 10mile journey back up the harbour into the local marina, up a creek in the town of Milford. Saturday was a lovely day and with Linda along I could do as little as I needed. She could handle the boat. Sun shining we tooled up the harbour, arriving way too early. We tied the boat off to a channel marker and enjoyed a great chat. New Zealanders are real sailors. Her experience covered years and years of racing every class boat known to NZ. She had been offshore many times and now owns her own boat. We had endless chat. Around 1pm, a dinghy came out of the creek to escort us up the very shallow, tidal creek. The 2 gents came on board and we trailed the dinghy as the engine had given up on them. It "was" narrow. Beautiful! The Marina was only a few hundred yards up the creek though and we were warmly welcomed by both the Rare Commodore and Les. Several other hands helped us get Inspired Insanity to her new home. My boat, though a small yacht, was quite heavy in comparison to the yachts there, designed for harbour enjoyment primarily. We were given an invite to the Thursday night dinner at the cruising club with honours and they were thrilled to have me bring along the ole' guitar for a singsong later. At lunch, I was able to meet another important person on the Team Simplicity NZ, Richard Thorpe, who arranged the TV interview and has made many in-roads for me here. It was great to put faces to all the team. So it begins.
With all the hard work that Will has done to promote me here in NZ to the yacht clubs and such I look forward to more warm welcomes as I get in touch with the clubs one-by-one. He was able to give a heads up to them about the TV piece and I will do my part to follow up from this side.
WOWOWOWO!! What an incredible few days. We all know that this journey has been a team journey. Sure, I had to sail the oceans. Granted. It was really tough months out there. But it was my dream and I have had my dreams come true. I am so blessed with all the seas and winds have brought me. I am a whole person. But the Team had only to gain the joy of seeing me fulfil my dream to keep them going for the last 7 months really. Neil VanGundy has been on board with the website for a couple of years. Day and night you
have all been there. Never a time did I pick up the sat phone with a need or concern, when someone didn't answer and give of themselves to urge me on. It is still a dream state for me that I am half way around the world, in NZ. And the journey is only half done. Actually, not quite half. Getting the boat ready for the next leg is still at hand. I still need to raise finance to keep me going here and complete the repairs needed to ensure Inspired Insanity will be fit for the trip across the Southern Ocean,(the stretch where all the previous circumnavigators experienced a capsizing), around Cape Horn and back up the South Atlantic Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean to RI. I had one shroud snap in the NATL which brings to question the rigging, the myriad of blocks and tackle that are broken, lines worn, electronic gear that just stopped working and the desperate condition of the wiring. The yard is going to pull the mast for me on next Saturday when we haul her. I'll be able to mount steps to the mast and replace the mast wiring, vhf antennae.
So!!!! I can't wait to get back stateside and hug you all. You have worked so hard and I am ever so grateful. While in the states, I will do my best to raise some sponsors, play some gigs and check in with the great folks in RI. A trip south to the USVI is in plan as well to continue our relationship as they were the ones who set me off years ago on my first crossing. Again, to thank my Sponsors, Stewart Kahn who somehow saw my potential, my dream, my heart and offered the financial help that would put some new gear on my boat, keep minutes on my phone as well as be a support as he expressed faith in my ability all along the trip. Cape Horn steering vanes, which made it possible to be free from the tiller for 99.9% of my trip. Of 17300 nm, I only hand tilled along the coasts. I truly left the steering to the Vane during every storm and through all the conditions. If there was enough wind to sail, the CapeHorn was steering. Montgomery Developmental Corp in Alabama, Luther and Maltsby Whaller and Helga Finks who provided the Satellite phone, and all the accessories, even the proper plug adaptor for NZ!!! I can't begin to express the importance of the sat phone to the success of this trip. Brewer's Sakonnet Marina who allowed me to do my own work and bring in friends to help, and actually handed me a cheque back when I left having gratuitously given me the last month's stay in the yard "on them". When I left, it was the only money in my acct. Friends from the Italian Maritime Net, who had come to my rescue on the ham radio when I was sailing off the west coast of Africa 2 years ago, were incredibly supportive of me and encourage sailors to get their ham licenses opening up many opportunities for interaction with others over the high frequency channels around the world. All those who have sent in donations while I have been at sea, keeping minutes on the sat phone, making a way for me to get stateside to promote from there and start the real work of encouraging others to live their dreams, I am so grateful. All the folks in RI who did wood work, electrical work, rigging. Hands, Lots of Hands, great Hands. Great musicians. Musicians with great hands, jamming hands. I just love it. Radios to borrow. I feel badly, Ness, your radio was fine one night and the next it just wouldn't come alive. Maybe you'll be able to bring her alive. Mike, also a solo sailor departing from Brewer's Marina, gave me a myriad of tools, lights, lines, wires. I used "every single one". Incredible. What would I have done if any one single gift hadn't been given. I needed it all. The Clothes I had were amazing hugs from each bearer. Of Course, I can't wait to see Tina, my family in Portsmouth RI, my homeport in America. All the guys. David Fabricating in Conn did marvellous work on my rudder. It worked great. Then there were the friends who came from far away to give me their time and hands. Tom Outman, my faithful weatherman, also gave 2 full weeks of hard labour in the boatyard, enduring bus rides to and from Florida. It has been beyond my comprehension, how Tom has been able to keep me in the forefront of his care, day and night, while he himself has been dealing with cancer, having to travel far to get the care he needed. I am in awe of the selfless giving hearts that have surrounded me in this project. Morgan Rael, a craftsman and incredible musician from the Caribbean, came up and gave me 2 weeks and it was brutal hard work trimming the rails and doing so many things. The magazines and news media that have followed my journey and offered their support and publicity. From the Sakonnet Times in Portsmouth RI, Bruce Burdett, to Elaine Bunting from Yachting World Magazine. Elaine reached Scuttlebutt which really reaches out to the world through the Internet and they kept a close eye on me. Richard Thorpe heard of me through Dee Caffariís Website where she kindly speaks of me as we crossed the south ocean in opposite directions, only 100 miles apart near 80E. Dee is still out there completing the last leg of her solo circumnavigation east to west, an incredible feat of endurance and strength of character. She is still battling equipment failures as we sit comfortable in our chairs. (www.avivachallenge.com) The Caribbean Compass, Latitude 38*, Latitudes and Attitudes have all had articles that have lead people to me. I am ever so grateful to all. I think one of the amazing gifts of this trip is how it has brought my family closer. From the weeks spent building the new rails by Fletch and my boys, Cooper and Keel. We all live our lives fully and give a thousand percent to our potential and it brings all of us in touch with danger at times. Whether it is in hours and hours driving on highways or paddling class 5 waters, jumping 45' cliffs in Targhee Ski Range. This trip has given me the privilege of being on the hearts of my family and receiving such wonderful encouragement from each one while I was out there. I can't say how precious it is to hear your sons and daughters say how they think of me everyday and send their love across the waters to me. I am in heaven. The value we have for each otherís love and friendship is just unfathomable. Our reunion in later May will be a blast. There is nothing more precious to any of us than our great times spent together. My ever-wonderful mom who has continued to support and keep all the "ends meeting". As she prepares to get married later this month, again I am thrilled to be able to get home for the wedding.
Now, as I said, is the important part of taking the truths and demonstration of potential from such an adventure like this and see it help to encourage others. I look forward to visiting the Stay-n-out Program in NYC with Stewart Kahn on June 2, a program supporting women finishing their time in a correction facility who desire to have real change and success in the outside world. Iíll be getting in touch with Women-without- Borders focusing on developing workshops for women to develop personal decision making skills and offering support as they strengthen their ability to cope in a diverse world where women are prohibited from so many of the rights American, NZ, European women take for granted. To encourage Casa Amiga founder Esther Chavez running a program for women in Mexico to offer support in challenging conditions. Pat Henry, an incredible woman, who circumnavigated the world in her Southern Cross 31` over 8 years, returned to develop a Womanís Sailing School, Coming-About in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She has an incredible program that goes beyond teaching sailing skills to helping women develop the self confidence to live their potential in every area of their lives. Pat reached out to me and was on the phone with me several times with the kind of encouragement given by someone who had been, where I am, solo, in the middle of nowhere, tired and challenged. Her messages and words of very practical help and encouragement were very important, especially towards the end of my journey to NZ when I was most exhausted. So many programs through out the world support women daring to make a difference and challenge societal standards to believe they have a right to happiness, love, and success developing their own potential. This is where the real challenge is, in real peopleís lives daring to believe they have a right to live freely. Bravo!! to the men and women making a difference.
I will continue to keep you all updated as I travel to the USA and enjoy my new granddaughter and family, continue to raise support and sponsors and hopefully, get a recording together. There will be a concert on June 15th on Ballston Lake in NY at Good Times Restaurant. I would love to see any living in the NY area at this lovely restaurant. I will be getting a gathering together while in RI. the first weekend of June. The particulars will be available as soon as set up. I hope to be playing at Molly Malones restaurant in St Thomas the last week in June and playing a tour of the other classic and legendary pubs in St Thomasí east end, Latitude 18 and others. Thanks so much to all. Have a fabulous Motherís day and Memorial Day Holiday in the US. Thanks so much to all in NZ as I look forward to my stay here.
Fairest of Winds and Love, Only Gratitude,
March 24, 2006 - Donna Lange This document was transcribed by Kristy Brill (Donna's daughter) from a satellite phone conversation between Donna Lange and Will Barbaeu
Although a solo sail around the world, the totally volunteer team simplicityís effort and faithful support over the many many months of this journey is the incredible unveiling blessing. As far as the sailing goes, there are only my two hands and two legs to sail this sturdy little ship on a solo venture, and they are on the verge of mutiny. As total ?black? seas break, still a thousand miles to anywhere, the reality of the ever precarious state of the old parts of the boat have been my shirt tail. Every other day, while I wallow and listen to the sails snapping themselves as if someoneís shaking out a dirty rug as they are back winded by the huge swells left behind by the blow that just passed, I expect to come on deck and see them blown out as did my old main sail months ago. But, with each peer above deck, there is still a full sheet of Dacron gathering what she can, pressing forward.
I had to change out the second propane tank last night. It was a partially full tank and disappeared too fast. Fear of leaks in the system creep into my thoughts. What would I do in this cold without hot tea or hot food? Just in case, I changed up the tank and fitting with a new spare. But then what if the new one leaks? I have to stop the thoughts, the tendency to dramatize; doubt must not win.
The constant G-forces on my body are adding to the visible similarity of myself, as my privilege to be a Nani, a Grandma. I had always thought sea captains look all drawn and wrinkled because of constant exposure to the elements, but I can see now that the acts of great gravity are also culprits. My body feels like it weighs twice what it does, as I pull myself up the steps of the companion way and work on deck. But thatís because it does weigh a lot more.
The pains and the constant demands of the conditions aboard are only manageable if my heart and mind remain focused on the purpose of my journey. The end is all that justifies such means. My reunion with family, spiritual growth through each stage of this challenge, and the potential of encouragement for others are the only things that keep me returning from the insanity of utility. I have nothing in this world to prove as a sailor, a competitor, a high adventurer, a risk junky; no records to make or break. Unlike Dee Cafaree on her solo east to west record making, the Avita Challenge England sail.
As two ships passing in the night, with two women sailing solo around the world (Donna Lange and Dee Caffari),one the east, one the west; we came within a hundred miles of each other near 42S 79E. I wish to acknowledge Dee's achievement and incredible sailing, as she has undertaken the same intense journey as I have. My goals are different but we have both struggled through some of the harshest conditions the body can handle. Dee has persevered this journey in hopes of establishing a new world record, while I have chosen to seek truth within herself, a level of self understanding and love that only the completion of this journey can illuminate. It is very important to me that this intention be understood, as I have the utmost respect, encouragement, and recognition for all who seek to accomplish their goals, whatever the motivation.
I embarked on this trip based on excerptations from the literature I read, not enough, pilot charts and anticipated dates of leaving and arriving. I chose a route and conditions I thought I could manage, given my past experience and the incredible investment in my little ship. But the sailing is not been at all what I had expected; each leg has been beyond my imagination in challenge, from the windward battle of the North Atlantic, to the maze of high pressure systems in the South Atlantic. Cape Hope was momentous, as could be expected, but the triangle of currents south of Africa, way south, had caught me. The southern ocean has given up few westerlies, and but for the east current that has kept me moving, I would be lost in the continually circling winds and variable conditions, though I am truly grateful to have skirted full hits of low systems thus far. I have a decision to make as to whether to sail through the bass strait, between Australia and Tasmania, or to sail south of Tasmania, staying in the open southern ocean currents. Then, I would turn northeast to the tip of New Zealand. The recommended route is to use the strait, but staying in open water should have steady winds, but so far steady wind is an oxymoronic term. Tom Outman, my ever faithful weather man, will keep comparable data available to decide. If it is necessary to go south, it would be better to decide earlier, and drift south gradually to absorb the three degrees of southing.
Without any navigation lights, because my mast head light was lost in the North Atlantic storms and loss of my onboard VHF, which leaves me with only a short range hand held VHF, heavy shipping traffic and need for constant vigilance, given the variable winds along the coast of Australia make for harder sailing. There are several good reasons to consider the south route. Yet the south ocean promises increased change of storm, high winds, colder temperatures, and a few added miles, which make use of the strait the more favorable sail. If I develop emergencies, then I will have to hit the Ausie coast. I have been able to get the engine up and running by by-passing the start switch, resolving both troubles at the switch and with the solo?? and the starter click. The engine is an important backup for use in the straits, where currents are a strong 25 knots. Being near land has a whole new set of risks and concerns. My thought is that the same storm that would make going through the bass strait a challenge, will be centered south and make the southern ocean also impassable. I plan to keep a 40S heading unless there is an Indian summer over the ocean or a typhoon over Ausie. That is possible, but two in one yearÖstill possible.
The incredible encouragement that I have received is truly the hero to me. Iíll keep moving and the boat will keep sailing, but it is my psyche that determines my health. The natural and emotional cycles, self examination, and the sense of being thwarted is daunting. Day and night I climb the companion way, over and over, adjusting sails, weather helm, and steering vane; all the time attending to the changing wind direction and speed. Finally giving up a steady course and accepting the wandering line on the GPS track. The steering vane has been fabulous at steering the course where it is set, but with the varying and gusting conditions, it has no choice but to follow. The closer time comes to the southern hemisphere winter, I suspect to have gustier conditions.
Self examination can be a brutal and perilous trial at times, as psychologists, speaking of a psychological mind, I am often the parent judging and expecting more. Wondering, how could I have been so blind and done that? I can look at my past process of learning as insanity, to have repeated the same cycle and somehow expecting a different outcome. Then I feel like a child, releasing emotions, and saying that I did what I could, and trying my hardest to be all I needed to be, experiencing life; skills and talents, unable to conform, challenging life to reveal truth. In this whole process I can be able to choose life. Uncovering truth about myself and others, watch their reactions, the parentís or the childís perspectives that have not worked. I can be present and now choose to do what really works for me. I can choose what is kind, compassionate, effective, honest, and allows the flow of real love in life through me as well as sees my actions as affecting the whole oneness of all life.
Being alone in this simple environment I have experienced my own natural cycles removed from distraction, swinging from depression to enlightenment; back and forth. In depression it seems that all I can do is wait for the negative emotions to let go, so a smile can return to my heart. While depressed, any attempt to smile brings tears, sobbing tears. I have sobbed as never before. In the present while I am laughing at myself and the sea, I am both actor and observer, watching the experience I can see that the promise of my anger and accusation is false. The horrible feelings grew and I are no longer found it in present truth. I can beat myself up for past failures, but even that has become old. Only too one more time accept to Donna that has survived till now, buy whatever means. Embrace her and let go of guilt, regret, and grief, allow new potential to arise. My friend and ex-husband fletch wrote to me and I shared with him in a text a deep cry. He says ďWe cry when things change and canít do anything about it. Smile and life seems to be in control. Donít look back. Donít doubt yourself. You are ever present with us here, thousands check on you daily, be present. You may be slow but you are moving; the tortoise didnít worry about the race. Crying is good to clear out the olí brain. Cry, then smile; breathe in the cleanest air in the world. Youíre all right babe. Stick to your task.Ē
I lost the end of each of those texts. The SMS lets you write 150 characters, but only delivers 120. I still appreciate this encouragement. Fletcher has known me since I was 16 years old and if anyone could judge me, it would be he. Instead he shares compassion, understanding, and a discerning word. It is very probable that not being able to be Nani, or being with my daughter with the birth of her second child, beautiful Jael Ahannah on March 15th, triggered the strong sense of introspective loss and grief. Loss of control that brought on such tears. Thank god for the satalite phone that I was able to talk to her and be more present.
Texts full of encouragement have been the balm as I return again to the present to appreciate the Donna who has invested in life, lived full tilt, has many successes and tremendous successes surrounding her. I just need to keep on adjusting sail and trim to New Zealand. I have abandoned all normal life these past 8 years since a life changing tragic event, in a search. One more leg and the next chapter of my life can unfold. Only dreams for now.
I have been escorted by my brown angels I call them, the squadron of 8 flying brown birds. The tiniest of the birds, woody bird, a massive albatross, and a flock of silvery white small fairies who have remained incredibly faithful to come along and swoop ever-so close to me, greeting me as I work the lines. I have begun to be able to laugh at myself at this time. I talk to the albatross in an Ausie accent; to the fairies, Iím Irish; to the 8 fliers and to the woody bird, Iím a child. Ausie, and then New Zealand six weeks away. Not to worry. The boat will hold out, although the repair list for New Zealand gets longer and longer. For safety, too many journeys have found misfortune too close to their destination, this consumes any level of complacency. Though I knew the end of the stores: water, propane, sugar (canít live without sugar for tea), chocolate that I have been rationing, I wonít starve.
The daily gentle understanding, input and confidence in me that I have received through text through my sat phone have carried me through when I could have lost hope in the purpose. The weekly call to my mom always lifts my heart to free me to let my life be what god has for me. Ptarmiganís love and understanding have been holding the family torch, keeping us all in touch. Kristy, Coop, Keel, and Fletcher, who seem to have a knack for sending a text expressing their love and excitement for me to be fulfilling my dream, finding answers. ??? who has been a daily peaceable spirit and word of faith in my ability to complete my journey. As Tom faces his own deep battle with cancer he has never missed a forecast! Will and Neal investing so others can be encouraged by my successes. Thanks to all my team simplicity, sponsors, mentors children family. Best friends and always my mom from whom I get my spunk and endless optimism. She is getting married at 73 years old to a wonderful friend we have all loved. I have written a song: golden years of love. I long to be home for the wedding at the end of May. To those who have sailed this great ocean and returned to tell their tails we know how lucky we are both to have embarked and to have safely arrived to a distant sailing community home.
Only gratitude to all the sea winds, stars, and the man in the moon, visible from the south ocean, and in his care I am entrusted, confident I will sail safely to a truly new world. I came to the sea to find the truth of what is man, and I have found in men on all the earth, our unified energy of love. We have just to come to that great understanding that we are all one, and that through unity of heart there is so much more than enough for all to live a life full of fullness. I have new songs to share and new hope full of love and life to share with all I meet, organizations to encourage and to promote human potential dignity and unity, jam sessions waiting to be experienced, and as always a boat to fix. Always forward (KFB) much love to all fairest of winds and love, only gratitude! USCG Captain Donna Lange, my little ship sailing vessel inspired insanity, and Anam Cara my steering crew.
Donna wishes to acknowledge Dee's achievement and incredible sailing, as she has undertaken the same intense journey as Donna. Going East to West through the south ocean, and like Donna, crossing the North Atlantic against the current. Donna expresses the difference in goals of these two strong women, who so diligently pursue a similar path. These two women have struggled through some of the harshest conditions the body can handle, each for the pursuit of very different goals. Dee has persevered this journey in hopes of establishing a new world record, while Donna has chosen to seek truth within herself, a level of self understanding and love that only the completion of this journey can illuminate for her. It is very important to Donna that this intention be understood, as she has the utmost respect, encouragement, and recognition for all who seek to accomplish their goals, whatever the motivation.
February 16, 2006 - Donna Lange
This document was transcribed by Kristy Brill (Donna's daughter) following a satellite phone call between Donna and Will Barbaeu just following Donna's passage of Cape Hope
On this journey around the world, solo, there are momentous days and there are landmark days. I am rounding Cape Horn today at 40’18”30East, 300 miles south of the epic milestone. I am just over half way to my first destination of Auckland, New Zealand. The cape has been faithful to create a monumental moment of memory and of accomplishment here.
On February 11th, via satalite phone, Tom Outman forecasts, from Roy weather, synopsis says that I will have 25 knots of wind for the day. In the previous days as well, the forecast projected to step-up that intensity. I would have 30 knots tomorrow, but in my mind it was just a step-up in degree. There wasn’t any great storm I was going to be dealing with, yet the day escalated to beyond 30 knots. There were gusts well above 40! Sails were down now; seas rising. I am in a gale. After that I was in my first South Atlantic gale. I could imagine I was in trough of a low below 50South. I had been studying the opton manual on meteorology, trying to make sense of the forecasts. My barometer was not working. I had very little to go on, except to respond to the experience moment by moment.
By the sunset the swells have come to be small mountains. I’m struggling to find the balance of sail, speed, and weather helm to keep the steering vane controlling my little ship. I am standing at the companion way for hours, mesmerized by the swells blowing crests. In an awe of each swell that lifts my stern, first into air, and then lets me fall. It is the world in reverse. I rarely look forward, except to get on deck and change sails or lash something that has come loose. My world approaches from behind.
I have repaired and worked the day before, in anticipation of my first South Ocean gale. I had no idea that it would hit me the very next day. I felt better knowing that I was prepared, and there was a synchronicity of having completed preparations intuitively the day before the storm. I was able to go below at times to rest for an hour once a day, and have balance. How big would this storm become? The escalating seems to have no bounds! The final gust before dawn came, and then a lull, and then a bigger gust, a lull. Next a gust that was a sigh, almost. A relinquishing of the momentum the next swell is tempered.
With the sun rise came the dawn, and the evading of the storm. I knew that it is a new world; winds back to south, not south-west, as the forecast had suggested. Somehow the forecast had missed this gale. By sunset the winds were breathing and lulling and gusting. Becalming, and then a breath. The vane was steering and I needed to get some rest, so I put in my ear plugs to hush the noises of the banging boom and the sails, as they breathe with the wind, back winding with each breath. At the end of the night the breeze took over and I was on course the next day, the winds backed again. Despite the forecast of the winds going south-west, they backed to east, south-east, to north-east, and then to north. As I looked at the new forecast for the next day, I realized why I had to tend the 34 knots again; north-west, west, south-west, and I had a cool temperature change.
It was another gale that was going to take me on. Even then as the wind picks up in the evening, the afternoon got squally. It was upon me already. I had spent the entire night on deck changing sails, pointer sails. Trying, the boat drove and then warped. Tom was giving me information on load sensors that didn’t make sense to me. Truly here it was confusion of information that created great anxiety. All of the sudden I am trying to stop and avoid a storm, which despite the forecast originally that it could pass over and go by 12 tense, confused hours, with unfavorable, gusty, 30-40 knot winds and a growing 15-20 foot swells. It really was confusion as for the best action, that wore me out. Once I decided to stay along on my course and just go with the storm, my tension released. And I decreased sails my goal to reach the north, north-west winds, for a course over ground of east.
Sunlight brought a sudden huge gust of wind and a shift of wind to the west, south-west. The real gale was on!! Again, balancing forward speed through the water, while preventing an out of control surf was a challenge. I was at the companion way all day as the seas grew and grew. Gusts to 60 plus, water spewing through the air hurting your face as it blew off the top of breaking crests. One crest breaking over the stern, after another. Inwardly there is a helm breath, a peace, and a calm. I tended to be much calmer watching the ship take each wave, each swell breaking over the stern, rather than to be down below. There it would be just a sudden hit and a smashing of me up to the lee board. With an explosion against the hull, the water engulfing the ship as the foam rolls down the hatches. I would run to the companionway to check and see that all was still there and there would be increadible stillness about the outside. The cockpit would be full of water, up to the seats, but draining through the scuppers.
There was an incredible contrast of violence and then utter serenity, power and then tranquility of flow. By late afternoon the swells were at 45 feet, growing still with increasing winds. The breaking crests were steeper now. Now I am beginning to feel fear; the potential to capsize is increasing. The dynamics intensifying, yet the beauty and glory are beyond magnificent. The sunlight through the crests illuminating a gorgeous aqua green and blue. If you could imagine my 30 foot Southern Cross ship in a trough, as the swell comes from behind and lifts the stern to a 60 degree angle, up to the peak of what became 60foot swells, with a crash of the crests breaking over the stern and water pouring all around. The sounds intense; the crush, and the rush, and then a sudden lull. The boat is stalled as the peaks, with the foam and milky white sea, explode around me. The gust blows up sparking bubbles in the sunlight and the drifts form a huge scale-like pattern on the surface.
My birds are all dancing on the wind and across the crests. Even the smallest of my birds was there. Watching, them brought such peace, such harmony and joy interacting with such power and intensity. It was all flowing with my little ship, floating amidst it. I came to trust my ship more and more, her shape, her size, she felt perfect in the troughs. She did perfectly in the troughs, the steering vane was able to keep her in line. The huge swells were deep water around sea swells. The seas were terracing, that they would break taller and they would have an overhanging crest, but they were 15-20 feet. The fear, again, that creeps in is the reality that it’s still growing. Every minute the seas grew steeper, the gusts more intense. Suddenly the immensity of it’s potential is there.
How could I ever manage through a full low pressure gale? How can I do this for 7400 more miles? Gale after gale; it wasn’t the moment that overwhelmed me; it was the imagination of the potential of the sea. It is far too beyond my capacity to handle the omnipotent sea! The sea and the potential unknown is my adversary. In my own reasoning the storm should have started to abate with the sunset. It was at this point that I am straining to hear the lulls, searching on the horizon for a change in the swells that would mark a recession. Then I began to sing “Peace, Peace, Peace still the raging storm. Peace still the storm!” as the new gusts would blow I would sing. It was always I’d sang standing on the top step, watching the sun sink with the last hours of the day. I am looking to the horizon for a change and the lulls finally came. The swells became their mountains; the seas bouncing away. Then the mountains passed under me, the next would be less and in truly short time the relentless swells were gone. As the gusts blow through the waves, the moon passes behind the clouds.
The winds now 30 knots; I am careful to be sure to let out sail and be sure that the vane can steer. It is still 15-20 foot dangerous seas. By morning we are at 25 knots of wind and I am raising the main. The recession of wind and the adjusting of the sails would continue until some time again, when then again the sails are breathing with all thickness to breathe. There is a shift in the wind and then a shift in the seas. I am finding that no matter my course of my sails, I have a course of 040050. No matter how I adjust the sail or appoint the sails I have wandered too far north, or I have regressed into the northeast current. It’s created by the south ocean making it’s very last divide to go west, to the South Atlantic and east into the Indian ocean. It’s like a gulf stream and it has to be crossed. As long as the wind is light, I have no steerage and my course over ground is ? knots northeast.
As the breeze comes up, I am pointed nearly southwest to have course of 090 and as the night went on, a stronger breeze came up and I found I was able to sail. I adjusted sail and I was back on course. But I was determined to get south of 40 south; to get well under the westerly current despite the cold, once I passed through the east it will warm up a little. Now better than half way to New Zealand, I feel a rebounded energy, at least for the next four days. The forecast remains at 5-15 knots, shifting and waning continually, but all sailable. It should be enough to get me beyond 30 east.
The thought of doing another gale and the consideration of sailing a true low pressure storm is put far from my mind. I have repairs to do. The last major hit I took before the storm evaded was completely an engulfing of the companionway, with such force as to break the window. The water flooded into the salon leaving 2 inches of water, boots floating, and food spilled, gear all soaked. I scrambled there to switch on the bilge pump and then to look out to see that the steering vane and all the equipment was still with me.
The steering has so far been a test, from moment one. Delayed in leaving the pilot chart and all the norms have proven useless. The North Atlantic crossing, leading to wind came with 4 gales in 3 weeks, and 2 weeks of southern tropical depressions. Unheard of before, the trade winds were non-existent, as the tropical storms came around from the southwest the ITC’s were most predictable with continual squalls, as many as 10 a day were all with sail changes. The coast of Brazil brought endless south-easterly winds, far south of their norms, 25 south. There was left with a maze of high systems, not one big South Atlantic high, but a maze of high systems to cross, to find my way to the southern ocean. I was averaging only 60 miles a day for weeks at a time. Becalmed for a full week. I had had an injury during the first month on the North Atlantic. I had slipped and pulled a hamstring and I had a torn ligament in my right hip, which is still giving me a lot of trouble, still is very painful. So far behind schedule, I considered turning back and making it an Atlantic circumnavigation. Weeks delayed my arrival in New Zealand got closer and closer to their winter, but as it is now I will be sailing the ?? sea in May, not April, just short of the start of their winter. And well into their autumn gale season. I have only prospects of one challenge after another, from gales, to gales, to gales.
So I trust my little ship “Inspired Insanity” my steering vane “Anam Cara”, which means soul friend in gaelic; my pacific-100 wind generator, which is my only source of electricity. The alternator on the engine died in the first month, during the gales. It was so wet on the boat. As well as both my SSB receivers quit working. The SAT phone is my sole connection to any weather or reporting of my position.
This trip is about the joining of hearts and energy all around the world, with me and love. To see the realization of the potential of dreams and human capacity; it is revealing the reality of the oneness in the world and in all of the earth, all other people, and in the environment. My personal goals are growing, living moment by moment in a positive spiritual reality. More and more. My energy connects with the flow of energy all around me; to be in harmony and to be part of the sea, not in competition or in fear of her. She is certainly big and she will certainly win. I only desire to experience her. Certainly I have only respect for her immensity and power, and I am coming to experience that the power of the sea is the same power that empowers all in life: the very essence of love. There certainly is enough power; it is in the harnessing of that power, to bring health to all the worlds people, and hope to all people and organic life, that we are challenged to do. There is more than enough.
I trust I will be home amidst my children and my family during my interim in New Zealand. Come April, when I finish the second leg around Cape Horn. That faith is in my ship and in my own determination, but that faith is in god and in love and in the conscious connectedness of all energy. It gives me peace and confidence. It’s a miracle of peace that passes understanding to have a tranquil energy in the midst of the incredible potential of this great sea. Instead of terror, day and night, it is the beauty and glory. I have a privilege to experience the glory of the most magnificent god. I am surrounded by love and love’s potential. I have only gratitude.
I have a list of thanks: my mom and tom and you and everybody that has done so much for me!!
Will: Can you tell me the exact time now where you are?
Donna: I actually keep the Eastern Standard Time so it is about 6 hours I should be about 19:00
Will: How is your food supply?
Donna: My food supply you know, I have just gone through. I found out exactly what I have and I have the rations set so I’m not going to starve and I just found another 2 lb bag of rice that was tucked away. It’s just a matter of having any variety but actually I have taken everything I had and stationed it for months. You know, for so, that I do have some different things to eat.
Will: What do you want me to do with this recording?
Donna: I don’t know, maybe it could be typed up and it could be a news letter that could go out to everybody, through Tina. She can send it out through my email list.
Will: I will send it to as many people as I can.
November 20, 2005 - Donna Lange
Somehow, It seems this blue type is appropriate. I am surrounded by a deep translucent blue. When the sun is shining like it is today, it is like a massive marble. The color is a mystery in the fluid motion. Today it may be blue with those whimsical white puffy clouds, but the winds is blowing 25 knots and very close to my bow. I am sailing 30 degrees off my course to the south and close hauled. That means I am pounding into each wave, being thrown aside. Only 2-knots of speed will I make. That is only 50 - 75 miles all day and that is a 24 hour day. Sailing is an experiment in patience beyond all else that it is. The elements that we toy with are constantly varying while we desire to travel in a straight line. Much like the early days in America when to cross the wilderness to the new homestead country in the west meant traveling 4 months by covered wagon making only 15 or 20 miles a day. The course was anything but straight as it wound around terrain, and across mountains. Have we ever really considered what it was like to forge pathways in those days? I do while I am out here. The community of people who traveled was very important to the survival of all. I too feel that though my community is here with me in my ship's structural stability, and each one's spirit I feel from afar. The journey on the sea will be tedious, splendid, abusive and the art of success here will be in my ability to maintain a happy heart amidst the continuous movement, adjusting, reefing and unreefing, electronic phantoms of existence(internet), and very sore body. Yesterday as I felt pain it was because every time I leaned my body against anything, I was realizing the falls I had taken. I was feeling every time i had hit my head on a boom or cleat hanging off the boom or a hatch, caught my boot on a line and caught myself on my hands, respraining wrists and hitting every funny bone so often that I should try stand up comedy next time I get inspired. My back so sore from sleeping hard and banging against the board while the boat is heeled. I believe it would compare to the pain felt of an inmate who is beaten daily with sticks and asked to work so many hours of hard labor. but of course my bed is covered with fleece, I am free and the labor is proprioceptively existing in such a moving environment. But I guess I do get angry at the hardness of it all. Just like the prisoner or the sojourning pilgrim on her way to a new land and opportunity. The success is not just in the surviving. That is a strong human instinct and that will persevere. It is to do the journey with a smile, a grin, patience, somehow enjoying the presence of life itself. I came here to developed practices of breathing, meditation and spiritual contemplativeness that will allow me to grow in freedom to pursue life in happiness and health even with my driven personality. It involves faith in love as the source of all energy. The sea will give me a chance to realize that.
I can go on and on and tell the stories of squall after squall that has blasted me. Here is one: It had been a quiet few hours in the morn. sunny. I was cruising well in 15 knots of wind. I saw the front line approach but waited too long to reef. When it hit, it hit with a full 60knots of wind. Amidst lashing winds, the boat thrown over with sails up, I went from full sail to completely furled jib and main lashed to the boom within 20 minutes, tearing my #1 jib at the clue before I got it down. Every second it took to get the sail down was doing damage to the sail fabric and stressing the rig. I sailed 10 hours maxing hull speed with bare poles, seas building to 30', the torrent subsiding to another 2 days at 25 -30 knots of wind. I guess I feel indoctrinated. The power of life and love's potential energy. Wildness. So powerful. It is awesome to be able to be on my ship amidst it and not feel terror. Instead, having been here many times now, I feel humbled, careful, but somehow safe though not complacent by any means. I am not threatened by it and can be in the midst of it. Somehow, I know that it would only be that rogue no one can anticipate that would be tragic. That is the same for all of us. This powerful sea is a display I wish I could share. It is in these moments that I would like to allow you to be here with me, secure and experiencing the dynamics without any fear or dread. It is a 24 hour a day roller coaster ride. The boat continues to have mysterious leaks. They drip from obscure places, no obvious intrusion, but my stove was deluged for a while. Then it stopped. I have to assume it is a wood strip outside that is leaking water in. My list of "caulk it with 4000UV" repairs is growing for the first mellow sun deck day. amazing. After all the wild weather I have had, I had a day of low wind and sunshine, at least for a few hours and got all the gear out on deck. I had forgotten to reclose my forward hatch after changing out jib sails during one "all hell broke lose" and it was a mess in the V berth. I really soaked everything before I noticed it. Then my sunshine and dryness was blasted away by a big squall line. It is wild. I can't get over how changeable it is. I have compared the sea to a 3 year old before. Throwing tantrums at will, unreasonable and over any thing that brings them to distraught, unpredictable , and powerful, yet so gorgeous that you always forgive them intrinsically knowing they mean you know harm, bringing you to laughter with their whimsical charm. The boat however is more like a five year old. A bit more predictable but very labor intensive, demanding your attention or else it just floods with water or demands that reef or whatever it wants. It lets you know. Yet she can be such a good listener, securely loving me and doing her very best at all times, responding to the ways of the sea as it comes.
Only gratitude. I have thanked everyone over and over and you all know how important you are to me, my journey, my overwhelming sense of being blessed beyond all people. I do want to add thanks here to Tom Outman, my mate and good friend who has been supplying me with verbal weather. I have found it too time consuming to even download weather. The system is just too slow. ( I spent 20 minutes today trying to send 2 letters and was not successful even though I had great signal and a good connection. I will try again before Thursday. I may try downloading AOL from a disk and using another address I have firstname.lastname@example.org. It is the time to get it up and working that will hurt but it may download quicker in the end. It will require I stay online to read letters. I can't work offline. ) Anyway, Tom has been great about keepin abreast of the weather, researching and giving me an update when I call him. That seems to be best. I can get what I need in 10 - 15 minutes. The satellite phone has been very reliable. thank you Luther, Malsby and Helga, again and again. I seem to reach alot of voicemails but I leave coordinates in a message and you have all been great about passing the information on to Neil V. It is great when I get a real human on the line. Har d to keep from talking too long. I am so full of newly invigorating experiences and feelings. But as time goes on it will settle more into a routine and the calls should be more infrequent and hopefully, less exciting, at least in my telling. Thanks Jason. We had been going to a meditation group on Wednesday nights, that meets every day at noon and it is great to meditate along with them. I have had miracles spring from the great energy flow. What a great connection.My tea is staying nice and hot as well. I have only had one gentle enough few hours to fly your prayer flags, Stu, but it was an amazing space. Thanks.
Some news. Ptarmigan, my daughter, is coming along great in her pregnancy. Ultra sound showed a big healthy baby developing. Friends and family I have spoken to have been great about sending updates to Neil V. and the Web page. He is doing what he can to keep it up to date. Please keep Tom Outman's mom in your prayers. She fell and broke her hip and at 92 years old, that is tough to recover from. she is doing well.
I do seem to be south of the trail of North Easters and Labrador Sea Tirades. Gratitude. Though I did not get in as much easting as maybe would have been helpful. Now I am into a region of Highs and the normal wind direction is more East. It is harder to make my easting. I am moving much slower than I had thought though it is still a reality that at some time in the trip I should cruise consistently ahead of schedule. I am making only 50 - 75 ;miles a day. As long as it is squally and gusty, stormy, I will make slow time. I just can't stack away miles going up and down and side to side , constantly adjusting and reefing sails. My southern cross doublender is not good going to wind so as long I am dealing with headwinds, it will be slow going. I don't know how far south I will go before feeling the tropical warmth my skin desires, but it is still 2 layer weather though I run around on deck in bare feet most of the time. I am accepting that, as usual, my illusion and expectation has lead to disappointment and disillusionment. One of these days I will do more research and have less expectation, though the sea will always reserve the right to "kick my arss". Eventually I will reach my Promised New Land as did the pioneers, one day at a time. I'm really not in a hurry. That is my journey. I have barely picked up my guitar or whistle, though I listen to music more than I have in the past, thanks to the wind generator. I am resting as much as I can, being consumed with the boat most of the time. I am happy and taking good care of me and wearing my tether more often then usual.
For Thanksgiving, Ocean willing, I am planning to have ham, yams, au gratin beans and herb rice with cooked pears for desert. I'll make a pot of real coffee and feast on a chocolate candy bar (thanks, Joe) and be feeling so very grateful to be missing you all, yet so very close to you all in spirit. Fairest of winds and love, Only Gratitude, Donna Marie
August 29, 2005 - Donna Lange What a different woman I am today than the one who sailed this exact trip 3 years ago. Back then, I was still filled with green naivety, acute anger and questions about life that were stopping me dead in my tracks in my spirit. Now with more than 20,000 blue sea miles, 12,000 of them solo, tucked into my being, along with the experiences being a traveling minstrel in port, I am so grateful to be “me”. I have gained the core sense of self love and self respect I sought and look forward to growth in areas of self discipline, meditation, and metaphysical strengthening. I have found a true meaning of happiness for my life attached to self love, not circumstance or time. Gratitude tends to be the most predominate state of existence for me. What an amazing possibility. Life has had it’s way. But this way has yet offered me greater opportunity to grow and meet challenges that I know will change me beyond my understanding. My pilgrimage is as I dream it and not as I can explain it, rationalize or justify it to any one else, yet it is amazing how many people dream dreams and innately understand the energy that moves me on. We encourage each other to experience all we have a capacity to know, grow from and become more than ever a part of the universe, less a solitary entity. It is from this premise I am compelled to have an email list and present my quest as a community effort. We all benefit from the growth of each member. And in the very same breath I can say that my journey is my responsibility, none others. I can not express how I look forward to this leg of my journey around the world. 4 ½ months to be as a sequestered monk, subject only to the energy of the ocean, winds, sun, water herself, and the preconceived essences that I bring along in my being. To write, to sing, to sail, to lay on my bunk weightlessly swaying to the dance of the sea, in peace, in bliss, such slumbers I enjoyed on my sail north; yet also such violence when the seas and wind rage; exhaustion, injury. Such dynamics. To have the time and opportunity to sit with myself,
practice meditation, overcome time, pain, fear; to experience creative engineering; to find the way to listen; to become one with my unknown self, love’s intrinsic flow of energy and life; to succeed and arrive safely. Through a now, mutual friend, Norman Ness, also a sailor, I learned of a Canadian solo sailor, Yves Gelinas, who completed the exact itinerary I am just about to embark on in 1982. He designed a steering vane for the journey that was so successful that he actually left port without a steering wheel or main tiller. The vane was set up as the primary steering mechanism and successfully steered the entire 28,000 miles around the world on the 40th parallel. We met with his partner on Sept 1st in Montreal to get more information about the vane, discuss the possibility of fitting my boat with their vane if they are interested in sponsoring my trip and had a successful trip. They are willing to sell the vane half price and begin building the vane immediately on faith. The ffectiveness of my self steering will determine the type of experience I have on this journey to a great extent.
Capehorn will be On BOARD!!
I trust life to interface with me as I walk forward everyday. Life is capable of supplying what I need to realize my dreams. There are times when people are able and drawn to get involved with my quest, however they are impressed to do so. Spiritual principles motivate my life by love, an addiction to an inspired, spontaneous interaction with people and the universe. My story has proven to be enlightening and encouraging to those forging ahead in all areas of self discovery, overcoming pain, fear, traumatic experiences, looking for the common threads where peace, contentment, and happiness are found. The truths and experiences I encounter in the extremes of sailing solo in challenging environments have a benefit to many beyond my own personal growth.
I need to continue to raise money for this venture so we put together the “Journey to Love” packages. Then the painting was donated. WOW!!! I must be building the boat and orchestrating all the fronts. Of course the cost is rising beyond my expectation as I try to further upgrade and as I consider the expectations of loved ones, friends who need to know that my boat is ready for such a trip. I believe that most people who encounter me believe it to be somewhat irresponsible for me to embark on this extreme a trip without the equivalent to “best equipment money can buy”. Everyone feels comfortable with different levels of comfort and challenge. Growth is not proportional to the magnitude of the feat. If you drive a car, believe me, at 40-65 – 80mph, the environment you travel in is far more challenging than mine will ever be. We all have our arenas for growth. This is mine. It works for me. It is a privilege, beyond my capacity to explain it, to sail the seven seas. I have no choice in my life but to live it as fully as I have a capacity to do. Those whose energy aligns with my philosophy seem to easily find within themselves a way to know what role to play in my life given their position or desire to get involved. I find, though, for some people, if they get to know me and care for me, they carry a great burden and confusion over supporting this trip. Culturally, woman are to be cherished, protected and men are to be the explorers and adventurers. Don’t’ get me wrong, I love to be cherished. Please do not let me confuse you. Please know that I love living my life. As a seasoned solo sailor, I am spiritually capable of the challenges of a long sail in challenging conditions. My capacity to endure and grow in the midst has been proven to myself. In October the strength of my boat and her equipment to successfully encounter the expected and even beyond potential risks of the trip will be ensured or I will have to postpone leaving. If you would like to join in my journey, please do so in whatever way you dream to do. Nothing more. So often I have been chided because I did not ask and therefore did not receive help that would have been so easily and cheerfully given. Equipment is lying rusting that would have made my life more comfortable. Funds sit idol that someone is freely looking to invest. I will let you know my wish list here. Please do not look at any one item but more so see if there is something you have a sense about. Life is a joy. I hope to only give you joy, maybe a kick in the seat if you aren’t living fully and want to. There is so much more than enough when we all consider all.
I am available for speaking engagements or concerts, or any women’s organization that would like a concert for a benefit or whatever. I know the time is short and I have to build a boat with the helping hands extended. There will be a PART 2 to this trip. Next year at the same time I believe to be in New Zealand tying loose ends together to leave again to go around Cape Horn and return to RI by March.
Fairest of Winds and Love, Only Gratitude,
July 31, 2005 My sailing quest has been, up until now, mostly a self-realization pilgrimage. Back when I arrived in the BVI in 1999, I set out with very few concrete ideas about life in general. It was enough to go sailing, buy a boat, rebuild the boat and go anywhere. Then I found myself going back in my heart to a quest I had envisioned for myself many times, and especially, since the car accident which rattled all my core beliefs in 1998.
A lone journey of discovery. At 17, I had planned to peddle a bicycle across the USA from Portland ME to Portland Oregon. At that time I felt I needed a partner to finish that trip, so when my companion decided to head out on his own ahead of me, the trip evolved into a road trip to San Francisco. John Denver, still alive at this time, was a hero of mine. I hitched my way to Colorado where I climbed his rocky mountains and got very high on life. In all the traveling, I gained a capacity to be quiet and sit for endless hours waiting on a lift or driving down the lonesome highways.
Twenty-five years later, I realize that 20-year of marriage, 4 children, a BS degree in Nursing, and months of solo sails and ocean crossings, were only the first leg of that long sought lone journey. The first leg was all I had hoped for though it was also much more difficult than I could have ever imagined. The dynamic physical and psychological challenge that it was has settled spiritual questions and taught me about true happiness.
Now, the next 3 months are going to be a blur. I just finished the last charter I will have time to do here in the Virgin Islands and I am getting ready to embark in the next 2 days (July 15, 2005) for New England. It will be an anxious time because I am leaving in between hurricanes in a very active hurricane season. I have a good window coming and need to take it. I will head for Bristol RI where I have fabulous friends and a wonderful bit of a history.
I would like to make my journey around the world an American event, leaving from and returning to this famous American seaport town. I plan a major refit in Bristol. Usually I dread the boatyard, as does every honest sailor, but this time I can’t wait. My sons, Keel and Cooper, are going to give me a hand and it will be great to work with them. My daughters, and other family members will be accessible. My ex husband and very good friend is also available to add his expertise of building composite boats and as an expert wood craftsmen. Other good friends and sailors have storage rooms of gear and parts waiting for me to rummage. And I am sure to meet many new friends who will help me along my way. The boat needs structural work, rails and bulkheads, to drop the rudder and replace the bearing, sure it up a bit, then a new tiller, new sails, bottom paint, basic acquisition of spare parts, a few new deck blocks, and deciding about electronics. I also just had a chat with an expert and I think I can get my old SSB radio working. Another GPS, an Auto helm from a friend, rebuild for the steering vane, add some kind of alternate charging system, solar panels or wind or hydro generation. But that should do it. Paint the interior, clean it up, pack her up and go.
I have just had an amazing blessing. My sweetheart, Neil, and I were both on charter this last week. I always bring my guitar and we were able to link up our itineraries. Neil Is my #1 fan here and he arranged for me to play music for his guests. He had already told them my story and dream. Within a half-hour on the boat with them all, the owner, Luther, offered to sponsor me with enough money to ensure I would have a satellite phone. Then his brother spoke up and offered to provide a weather fax.
So I am blessed with my first “official sponsor” of this event, Halcyon Properties, located in Montgomery, Alabama. I’ll be looking forward to getting further sponsorship of equipment.
And this brings me to the next step for me in my pilgrimage. A “Cause”. It always seemed that with the publicity that develops wherever I go, I should be promoting a passion.
During these years of searching, I have come to a belief, and I feel, I have something to share. I have held a passion forever for women and children’s rights to pursue happiness. There was the day when I was 30 years old and went back to college and got a BS degree in Nursing. It was a big dream. I did it with 3 kids at home and meager funding to say the least. It was an incredible boost to my self-confidence and an amazing asset to have the proof that I am capable. I went on to nearly finish an MBA. Later on, I went back into the classrooms to get my Coast Guard Captains License.
School is about learning to learn while gaining the confidence and skills to do whatever we are given to do. The basics; reading, writing letters, language... Get your hands dirty and DO something. Education through apprenticeship, vocational training or institutionally is absolutely the key to a person’s ability to prosper and grow into a worldwide wonderful adult able to help their fellow earthlings and live in the normal levels of comfort all humanity deserves.
We must work together in finding ways to join forces, to live in a peaceful world, allow every talent to be realized and every hand developed with the tools they possess to help themselves and others.
I am researching organizations doing this kind of work and effectively touching the tragic places and cultures in the world. I can help promote knowledge of presently available funding and help get it into needy hands. How can we push governments into allocating educational funds for to young women as well as men. Especially in cultures where women and children’s rights are so grossly violated?
The American Way can be so shamefully wasteful at times. I have a lot of trouble swallowing our direction sometimes. But I have never denied the fact that to be born a woman in America was beyond words. A miracle and a privilege to which I am rightfully responsible to honor in any way that I can.
I am tenacious, but I am 5’2”, 125 lbs, and average or above in mind. No genius here. I work with my hands. I fix engines and rebuild boats. I haul sails. I work hard. Yes, I play a good guitar. I love instruments and banging on drums of all sorts. I have worked hard at that too.
I admit that I have been blessed with a voice that can sing and I love to do it. I know I can affect people on a one-on-one level, but how about on a bigger scale?
Around the world!! Ideas anyone!!!!! Bring it on. The only cause must be humankind. The gospel is “that we are free”. The spirit is free. Just soar, sail, sing, swing, do whatever you can see to dream. All good. Somehow, it is all good.
I can say that even today. Even after the tragic car accident that changed my life. I can at least now say that I have gone on to live the life I have been allowed to pursue. I must live it to the fullest, never holding back, never to stop loving and caring. Giving it all. As in the words of my music:
Expecting nothing of self or man.
Except to live every moment as if it’s the last you’ll live.
Giving all that you are.
Cast it on the waters.
Watch it come back again….
Keeping on, keeping on, keeping on.
I need a good slogan to plaster all over my sails along with logos of organizations that are already doing the work. I would like a section in my web page. Interactive chat spaces. I am working on a CD of new songs and cover songs written specifically about women’s issues to help. We need something to promote, raise money and leave an impression, songs to sing.
The songs can be written by me, you, children, women, men, anyone who has a heart to write. I appreciate input, feedback, and support of all kinds. Then the big splash and off we go into the wild blues to New Zealand.
While I am in the states, August through part of October 2005, I am available to speak anywhere regarding my travels, solo sailing, women’s issues, true happiness, empowering life’s dreams, and accepting it’s lessons. A listing of speaking topics, presentation outlines, empowerment seminars can be found by contacting me through my web page www.donnalange.com.
Of course, anywhere I go, my guitar, harmonicas, Irish whistles go with me. I’ll even have my Caribbean steel pan with me. I look forward to hearing from you.
Fairest of winds and love,
“Captain” Donna Lange
If you wish to contact Donna, please send your email to YOLOAdventure@AOL.com . Your message will be forwarded to Donna as quickly as possible.