In Memory


Larry Pardey

Delbrook and NVHS classmates knew Larry as Laurie

Eight Bells: Legendary Bluewater Sailor Larry Pardey Passes Away

Pim Van Hemmen

Jul 27, 2020

Celebrated bluewater sailor and author Larry Pardey has died. He was 81.

The Canadian-born Pardey and his wife Lin garnered fame after they built a 24-foot Lyle Hess sailboat and sailed it around the world while writing about their experiences. They spent a good chunk of their adult lives sailing the globe in both directions, logging more than 200,000 miles and becoming celebrities in the cruising community.

After 11 years, they built a larger Lyle Hess sailboat and continued their travels. Neither boat had an engine. They eventually made their base on Kawau Island off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

In recent years, Pardey suffered from Parkinson’s and Parkinsonian dementia. He had been confined to a rest home in New Zealand since suffering a stroke last year. Yesterday, his wife Lin announced his passing on her Facebook page:

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with Mike Anderson,” Lin says. “Anderson once asked Larry for a hand on a boat restoration project. I asked him, ‘When you think of Larry, what is the first thing that comes to mind?’ He didn’t hesitate,” she adds. Anderson replied, “It was the answer he gave when I tried to thank him for his help: “We were put on this earth to help each other.””

According to Lin, Larry died peacefully at a rest home where he had been for the past year after suffering a major stroke. “He is now at peace after several years of suffering from Parkinson’s and Parkinsonian dementia,” Lin says. “His memory will always be with me not only because he was a wonderful partner, lover and husband but also because, if anyone can be said to have gained the most from the generous help he was always ready to offer, it was me.”

With Covid-19 preventing international travel, Larry will be cremated tomorrow after a quiet ceremony. A celebration of his life will bring as many of his friends together as possible at the end of October.

Should you like to help keep his memory alive, you can make a small donation to help maintain and expand the Larry Pardey Memorial Observatory at the children’s camp here at Kawau Island.


Larry Pardey, Mariner Who Sailed the World Engineless, Dies at 80

With his wife, Lin, he circumnavigated the world twice on wooden boats he had built. And they always took their time.

Credit...Lin Pardey

By Richard Sandomir

Aug. 28, 2020

On a perilous westerly course bound for Cape Horn near the southern tip of South America in 2002, Larry and Lin Pardey made their approach into the hazardous currents of the Strait of Le Maire aboard Taleisin, their 29-foot, engineless wooden yacht.

Well after midnight, with Ms. Pardey on watch and Mr. Pardey asleep below, she lost sight of navigation lights but realized, suddenly, that several large rocks were in front of her, not the open water that she had expected.

“I threw the helm and tacked to turn and reached out to sea on a reciprocal course,” she said in an email. “At the same time, I yelled for Larry to get up on deck. He ended up being thrown from the bunk on the cabin sole, then scrambled quickly into the cockpit.”

They were, for a short time, lost. Mr. Pardey took the helm as his wife studied their charts to determine the safest course back to open water. They eventually passed through the strait and headed to Cape Horn.

By then, the Pardeys were more than 30 years into an adventurous life at sea, twice circumnavigating on boats that Mr. Pardey had built. Their voyages brought them renown among cruisers: sailors who take their time on long trips, often to foreign parts.

“Without exaggeration, Larry is one of the greatest small boat sailors of any era,” Herb McCormick, executive editor of Cruising World magazine, said in an interview. “The degree of difficulty — of sailing boats without an engine for 200,000 miles — is an amazing thing.”

Mr. McCormick, who wrote the book “As Long as It’s Fun: The Epic Voyages and Extraordinary Times of Lin and Larry Pardey” (2014), added: “Larry’s little motto was, ‘If it was easy, everybody would do it.’ He almost went out of his way to make it harder: building the boats, engineless, and sailing upwind around Cape Horn.”

Mr. Pardey, who embarked on his final long ocean voyage in 2009, died on July 27 in a nursing facility in Auckland, New Zealand, near his home. He was 80. He had a stroke last year and had learned five years ago that he had Parkinson’s disease, his wife said.

Life aboard their boats, first the 24-foot Seraffyn, then the Taleisin, was simple. They had a compass, a sextant and a radio transmitter but used no GPS. systems, and no engines. The lack of complexity suited Mr. Pardey’s facility for navigation and reduced their costs.

“When we first set off, we could live in Mexico for $200 a month,” he told The New York Times in 2000. “The way we looked at it, a $3,000 engine cost 14 months of freedom. We never dreamed of going cruising and being comfortable, we just dreamed of going.”

They fulfilled that dream many times over. Their first circumnavigation, starting in 1968 on an eastward route, spanned 11 years and took them to 47 countries. Beginning in 1984, they spent 25 years traveling west on their second circumnavigation, touching land in 30 more countries.

Mr. Pardey with his wife, Lin, sailing on the Mediterranean in 1975 aboard their 24-foot boat, Seraffyn. The trip, their first circumnavigation, lasted 11 years.Credit...via Lin Pardey

Lawrence Fred Pardey was born on Oct. 31, 1939, in Victoria, British Columbia, and was raised in Shuswap Lake and in Vancouver. His father, Frank, was a butcher, and his mother, Beryl (Peterson) Pardey, was a homemaker. Earl Marshall, his grandfather, who worked in sawmills and construction, preached to Larry that he should earn enough money to do what he loved.

As a boy, Larry had a dugout canoe and then a rowboat rigged with a wool blanket for a sail. But his serious interest in sailing did not peak until he was about 17, when he bought an eight-foot sailboat while working for a waterfront sawmill in North Vancouver. He then purchased a keelboat and, in 1959, a sloop, which he called Annalisa.

“She was built in Sweden for the Crown Prince of Denmark as a diplomatic gift,” he was quoted as saying in “As Long as It’s Fun.” “She’d been built from a single mahogany log and varnished inside and out.” He added: “She was perfect.”

By late 1964, Mr. Pardey had left British Columbia for Newport Beach, Calif., and was working on a schooner when it went to Hawaii so that the crew could film background shots for a TV series, “The Wackiest Ship in The Army.” Mr. Pardey, in a hula skirt, appeared briefly in the show.

Mr. Pardey on a sea trial in 1984 off the coast of California. That year he and his wife would begin their second circumnavigation, touching land in 30 more countries.Credit...Lin Pardey

He was soon skippering a ketch and, in May 1965, meeting his future wife, Lin Zatkin, in a bar. She was working at the time in the corporate office of the Bob’s Big Boy restaurant chain in Pasadena but craving adventure, Ms. Pardey said. Sailing, she felt, would satisfy her wanderlust.

Three days after they met, they were together for good.

“I guess he was pretty romantic back then,” she told The Sailing Channel in 1993, “but what was even more romantic was what he offered me: a way of getting out of the 9-to-5 syndrome, seeing lots of the world.”

They married in 1968 and three days later, Ms. Pardey launched the boat they had built, Seraffyn, by smashing a bottle of Champagne against its bow.

The two were rarely, if ever in a hurry. They did not adhere to a schedule and worked only enough to finance their sailing. Their circumnavigations took so long because they spent a lot of time exploring 15 of the countries they visited and using them as income-producing bases of operations, repairing and restoring boats and ferrying them to their owners.

“We never set off the circumnavigate,” Ms. Pardey said in her email. “We just wanted to sail, explore and meet interesting people, do some racing in interesting places. But at some point we ended up halfway down the road, and logic led us to complete the circle.”

They collaborated on books and videos that chronicled their adventures and offered how-to advice to sailors. Ms. Pardey had the narrative skills, Mr. Pardey the technical knowledge.

Mr. Pardey and his wife in 2010 at their home on Kawau Island off the North Island of New Zealand. They met in 1965 in a bar. Three days later, they were together for good. Credit...Herb McCormick

July 30/2020:  Man, I’ve been writing too many of these lately. This is a huge one. Larry Pardey, who died at age 81 on Sunday, after years of struggling with Parkinson’s disease, and after suffering through a stroke last year, was an enormously talented man. He was a consummate sailor, both on a race course and on the open ocean, a one-man archive of nautical knowledge and expertise, and the best hands-on boatbuilder I ever met, bar none. He could have made a name for himself in the sailing industry in any number of ways, but what he chose to do was go cruising, on a very simple, small boat he built himself, and in doing so transformed the sport of bluewater sailing.

He had some help, of course. His wife, now widow, Lin, was a very equal partner, promoting their cruising life through the very successful books and articles she took the lead in writing. In forging the seemingly seamless team of Lin and Larry, the two of them set an example to cruising couples everywhere, demonstrating how a couple truly could work a boat together and have fun doing it.

This is a shot I snapped (with slide film, no less) in Virginia in the late ‘90s, when I first met Lin and Larry. Larry, typically, is watering the deck of Taleisin, the second boat he built, to keep the wood moist and swollen. His maintenance habits were always meticulous. And check out the way Lin, in the companionway, is looking at him. Larry never tooted his own horn; Lin always did it for him. And vice versa

Lin and Larry in 1969, aboard Seraffyn, their first boat, at the start of their cruising careers. Seraffyn was just 24 feet long, and the Pardeys cruised aboard her full time for 11 years

From the little bit of time I spent hanging out aboard Taleisin with the Pardeys, I can tell you the quality of Larry’s work was extraordinary. That boat was like a museum piece, a gorgeous piece of furniture, everything superbly finished and varnished or oiled. I remember one piece of gear I particularly admired on deck were the boat’s Murray winches, built in New Zealand, whose virtues Larry extolled to me in some detail. I immediately went home and installed a pair on my own boat, a Golden Hind 31 at the time, and reveled in them. I thought of Larry every time I trimmed a sheet on that boat after that.

Even though Larry’s boats were exquisitely built, he was never afraid to sail them hard. He and Lin voyaged over 200,000 miles in their many years of roaming the world together and eventually rounded all the great southern capes. The pinnacle of Larry’s career as an ocean sailor was his doubling Cape Horn with Lin, from east to west against the breeze, in 2002. Larry’s last voyage was from California to New Zealand, where he and Lin at last settled down at North Cove on the island of Kawau. He lived his last years in New Zealand and certainly never deserved to lose all the very fine memories he had built up over his life.

He was a joyful man, a sailor’s sailor; he will be missed.

In lieu of flowers, as the phrase goes, Lin is asking for condolences to be expressed through donations to the Larry Pardey Memorial Observatory.

For a full account of Larry’s life, I urge you to read Herb McCormick’s excellent biography of the Pardeys, As Long As It’s Fun.

I leave you with a viddy I particularly like, of Larry stowing a headsail, and a list of awards he won.

Mauritanian Legion d‘Honneur, 1967: Captain of first American team to sail across the Sahara Desert in a land yacht

French Sailing Federation, Silver Medal, 1967: Land yachting

Outstanding Sailor of the Year, 1978: West Vancouver Yacht Club

International Oceanic Award, 1995: Royal Institute of Navigation, recognizing voyages made navigating by sextant and traditional methods

With Lin:

Ocean Cruising Club Merit Award, 2003: For inspiring voyages, including a west-about rounding of Cape Horn

 Seven Seas Cruising Club Service Award, 2004: For lifetime voyaging achievements

Cruising Club of America Far Horizons Award, 2009: For lifetime contributions to seamanship

RIP: Lawrence Pardey, 1939-2020



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