Tightwads on the Loose, Wendy Hinman’s engaging, fast-paced memoir, shares an important lesson: “The weather trumps all plans.”
To quell their restless spirits, Hinman and her husband Garth embark on a seven year Pacific odyssey aboard their 31-foot sailboat, Velella, named for tiny jellyfish-like creatures propelled by prevailing winds. The author traces their route from Seattle to Japan via Mexico, French Polynesia, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, and Hong Kong, with layover (planned and otherwise) destinations in between.
Life at Sea
Hinman paints enticing descriptions of days “filled with snorkels, hikes and books instead of meetings, deadlines and email” and shipwreck dives in the Philippines. Images like: “Under a starry sky, the tropical air thick with the scent of plumeria and papaya . . .” had me packing my bags to join in her vagabond lifestyle.
But experienced open-water sailors will identify with the ebb and flow of Hinman’s seagoing tale. Her adventures fluctuate from daydreaming days bobbing on calm, cerulean waters to terrifying moments of close-call catastrophes. Yet the yin yang rhythm of Hinman’s journey is exactly what she loves about cruising, accepting that she couldn’t “just choose the good parts.” She reminds readers that life’s great adventures lie just outside our comfort zone.
By settling for an easy life, we risk boredom. We also lose the chance to grow from facing unexpected challenges. After her miscalculation nearly results in a mid-ocean collision, Garth empathizes: “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”
Learning by Living
At its heart, Tightwads on the Loose reveals a journey of self-discovery. Hinman learns to rock climb, rappel and “run zip lines across deep canyons” in a temporary position as a tour guide. But her inner discoveries run even deeper.
She adapts to a 24/7 relationship with Garth, her opposite in social needs. And time becomes her most precious gift: time to ponder life choices made consciously or by default; time to appreciate people’s interconnectedness despite language and cultural differences; time to affirm what brings her alive. Priceless lessons by any measure.
Having had such soul-enriching experiences after a life at sea for seven years, how did wander woman Hinman feel about rebuilding her life back on land? Apprehensive. With Garth’s transition into a new job, Hinman felt the loss both of his daily companionship and a clear goal for herself.
Thankfully for us, Hinman’s on-board journals set the stage for her next great adventure: published author of her compelling memoir, Tightwads on the Loose, with a sequel in the works.
What’s your favorite sailing adventure, wanderboomers?
The deeper my roots grow in the Pacific Northwest, the more I discover how many intrepid, awe-inspiring women live here. In occasional future Friday posts, I’ll share their stories with you. On “Fearless Women Fridays,” I hope their stories will inspire you to chart a path of your own remarkable adventures.