Sydneysiders Nancy Knudsen and her husband Ted Nobbs’ relationship developed through their mutual love of sailing. Albeit, in the early stages of their racing-influenced romance, at a much faster pace than that of the liveaboard cruisers they later became. Though rarely racing on the same yacht, Ted was an accomplished racing sailor with a swag of big name yacht races in his wake while Nancy had come to sailing midway through her career as a high powered Sydney businesswoman.
Their passion for the sea drew them together. Circumnavigating the globe on their Petersen 46 Blackwattle only enhanced their commitment to each other, embracing life as they dealt with the daily challenges of life at sea.
Nancy has penned a gloriously enjoyable memoir of their five year adventure. Casting the lines aside from the dock of Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, their voyage took them across four oceans and many seas. Recounting the humour, the emotion and the beauty as well the merely mundane, Knudsen has a knack of taking the reader along for the ride, living every moment of triumph and tragedy.
She has a keen eye for observing the detail of life at sea and on land in an entertaining, engaging format that will have seasoned sailors nodding in agreement. With no set itinerary other than to use the wind to propel them in the general direction they wanted to go, they spend much time ashore, meeting locals and immersing themselves in the local culture.
Celebrating their first Christmas and New Year away from home, Nancy and Ted take a break from Blackwattle at a simple hotel in Cochi, India on New Years Eve, encountering a rather odd tradition.
“On arrival at our small hotel, we are pleased to find a life-sized Santa Claus decorating the front garden.
I ask our host why he is still there.
‘Oh, we don’t burn the Santa Claus until December 31. Then, at midnight we burn him.’
‘You what? You burn Santa Claus?’ I can’t be hearing right. The seven year old inside me is reeling with horror. ‘You’re joking. What do you mean?’
‘Yes, we burn Santa, at midnight.’
‘In the street, in front of the house.’
‘In the middle of the street? Does everyone do that?’
‘Oh yes. At midnight you will see all the Santa Clauses burning in front of all the houses here.’
‘But what about the children? Don’t they mind burning Santa Claus?’
‘No, they like the fire – it is tradition, you see.’
And so it happens….when at home we would normally be kissing each other, misty-eyed…..hundreds of Santas burn as children watch with glee.”
Shooting Stars and Flying Fish is published by Allen & Unwin and is available from all good book stores.
Verdict: HIghly Recommended