A Tale of Two Yachts is a compelling tale of two voyages, more than 85 years apart, to New Zealand, says Julia Jones
The story of two yachts
Self-Publishing House, £12.99
There is an interesting concept behind this volume. Barbara White and her husband Rob completed a six-year circumnavigation of the globe on their Oyster 406 yacht Zoonia between 2015 and 2021 and recorded it on Barbara’s blog.
Erling Tambs and his wife Julie left Norway in 1928 on the former pilot cutter designed by Colin Archer teddy but lost her off New Zealand in 1932.
They, their two children and their dog were lucky to survive.
Locked down in Australia in 2020, Barbara revamped Tambs’s Teddy Cruise as the basis for the new edition published by Lodestar Books.
Here, she interweaves events from teddytravel with Zooniaprogress to New Zealand.
Its caption describes the sailing couple’s journeys as “remarkably similar” but, perhaps inevitably, it’s the differences that are most obvious: teddythe absence of an engine, the lack of navigation or communication equipment, its wooden construction, the sex of the skipper, the comparative ages, the motivations and the financial resources of each couple, the degree of difficulty experienced.
The leads they follow are similar but not the same.
Barbara and Rob peacefully leave Plymouth for La Coruña, enjoying fond memories of the Tall Ship Stavros S Niarchos where they had met: Erling and Julie were defying the Norwegian authorities on leaving Ulvoysund.
They endured a difficult passage in the North Sea before reaching Le Havre, then were forced into Cedeira by another storm.
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Their journey is always the most dramatic and elemental.
Stylistically The teddy bear cruise seldom fails to grasp and jump, while The story of two yachts is closer to a pleasant travel diary, recording places visited, impressions gained and meals eaten.
Barbara and Rob took time out of their world tour to travel to Norway and meet Erling’s grandson Tambs (also named Erling) and his aunt, Tui, the baby girl born on the trip.
They paid tribute to the extraordinary spirit of Tui’s mother, Julie.
Despite the differences, Barbara White’s sense of connection is real and her insights valuable.
Basically, both couples seek not just adventure and experience together, but the elusive quality of happiness.
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