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Get to Know the OCA Speakers: Larry Roberts and Mary Anne Unrau

Rosario Passos

Counting Stars
Whitby 42 Ketch
January 28th, 2016

Larry Roberts and Mary Anne Unrau have sailed more than 90,000 miles in Traversay III since her first launch.  They have crossed every Meridian and reached Latitudes from 65 S on the Antarctic Peninsula to 80 N at the northwest tip of Spitzbergen.

In 2013, they sailed from St. Katherines Marina, London in late March, and voyaged to Victoria, BC in October via south English ports, the Irish Sea, Iceland, Greenland, the Northwest Passage and Alaska.

Their most recent voyage started and ended with a departure from the Causeway Marina, Victoria, in mid-April 2014 in a North Pacific circuit, with stops in Mexico, Hawaii, King Cove, Alaska and a return to Victoria, heading south from a Canadian landfall in Prince Rupert.

During their Ocean Cruising Adventures presentation on February 5, they will take us on a travel adventure South to the Ice as they share their experiences while sailing to the spectacular and seldom visited Falklands, Antarctica and South Georgia.

As we gear up for the OCA event, we asked some of the speakers the following six questions. Here are  Robert and Mary Anne’s answers:

1)      When and how did you get into sailing?

Mary Anne: I was co-owner of a C&C 27 on the Ottawa River, which is where I started sailing in 1978. I took a number of CYA courses around that time.

Larry: There was a boathouse offering dinghy sailing lessons on High Park Pond, in the western part of Toronto.  Lessons there led to my buying a Contessa 26 the following year and sailing her from Toronto to Georgian Bay in 1975.

2) What is your best sailing memory?

Mary Anne: Approaching Raivavae Island in French Polynesia’s Austral Islands, at the end of a Roaring Forties passage from Hobart, Tasmania. The Island just magically rose out of the sea.

Larry: Heading south along an empty, late-October, BC Inside Passage day, at the end of our 2013 Northwest Passage from London, UK to Victoria, BC. The weather was peaceful, the scenery a delight and the difficult part of a challenging seven- month voyage was all behind us; we were nearly home.

3) What was the most frightening or unusual experience of your adventure?

Mary Anne: Sailing north from South Georgia through night, wind, cold and icebergs, toward Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Larry: A dragging anchor during a night gale in Willis Bay, Prince of Wales Island, Nunavut. It was below freezing and the wind-whipped spray really stung our faces, as we maneuvered in the large waves to re-anchor, with our slightly-broken anchor windlass.

4) Of all the places you sailed to, is there one in particular that stands out as your favourite?

The short answer for both of us is “No”. Each place we visited was special in its own way. How do you compare Central London, UK [St. Katharines Marina] with Trollfjorden, Norway?

5) What advice do you have for people looking to sail offshore?

Read, read, read and then get on with it! You don’t need to wait for the perfect boat. If you start sailing offshore when you are younger, you get to do it for longer.

6) What does the future hold for you?

More sailing and more SCUBA diving. Warm or cold doesn’t matter much.

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