Eight Bells: Larry Pardey
Published on July 30th, 2020
Celebrated bluewater sailor and author Larry Pardey, 81 years old, died on July 27, having suffered from Parkinson’s and Parkinsonian dementia. He had been confined to a rest home in Auckland, New Zealand since suffering a stroke last year.
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.
Born in Canada in 1939, Pardey moved to Southern California in his early 20s in search of seagoing adventures, and began his voyaging career as a deckhand on a schooner called Double Eagle on a long trip across the Pacific. Soon after, he began work on Seraffyn and met a young lady named Lin Zatkin, an enthusiastic but novice sailor. They married in 1968 and set off on an open-ended cruise, which ultimately turned into a decade-long spin around the planet.
Upon their return, the couple moved to a remote California mountain and commenced work on their second boat, Taleisin, so named by fellow voyager Tristan Jones after a legendary Welsh poet. Taleisin became their vehicle for a second circumnavigation, one that took them deep into the South Atlantic and around Cape Horn. It was a highlight of their distinguished long-range voyaging career.
Along the way, they found a home in a perfect, protected cove on tiny Kawau Island off the coast of New Zealand, which became their base for many years; there, Larry had a small boat-repair business and yard he called Mickey Mouse Marine, “a 3-M company.”
Pardey will be remembered by his friends and fans as a generous spirit who inspired thousands of readers to become sailors and sailors to become adventurers. Whether building his own boats, circumnavigating twice sans engine or stretching the definition of sailing by cruising across the Sahara in a landyacht, Larry’s ambition and exploratory enthusiasm made him a living legend.
Survived by Lin, she has asked that anyone interested in making a donation in Larry’s honor support the Larry Pardey Memorial Observatory, an organization based on Larry’s work to provide children with a place to explore the night sky unimpeded by city lights.
To donate, click here.