Paciência. Patience. Anyone who has tried to learn a new language knows that patience is required, and a lot of it. But, truth be told, anyone who’s around someone trying to learn a new language could benefit by a strong dose of it too.

When the decision to sail across the North Atlantic was made, my husband, David, simultaneously embarked on a second, different, but equally daunting, journey; to learn to speak Portuguese.

Throughout our initial 23-day crossing to the Azores, David listened to “Speak Portuguese” tapes with headphones on and practised saying stuff to me, whether I liked it or not.

Here’s an excerpt of Day 19 from my memoir, Ready to Come About:

Ah bay say day eh ef … The alphabet? I asked. Sim. That’s good dear. Obrigado. Great. Muito obrigado. How’s our speed? Não entendo. Okay, stop it. Eu não falo inglês. That’s enough! Desculpa, não falo inglês.

When we arrived, David was bursting at the seams to converse with an actual Portuguese person.  This was us clearing customs in Faial:

Bom dia!” David said to the customs official.

“Port of origin?” the uniformed man said, his eyes and hands on his keyboard’s home row.

Nós…uh…nós estamos… no wait, wait…somos—”

“Canada,” I said.

David continued. “Yes. Somos do Can—”

“Boat registration, please,” the official said.

“Certainly.” David unzipped the document case and handed the man the papers. “I mean, com certeza!” He smiled over his shoulder at Cameron and Leslie.

You get the idea…

And he never let up. Throughout our entire trip he practised with servers in restaurants, sailors on docks, passersby on streets, boatyard mechanics at Sopromar in Lagos — simply with everyone at every opportunity in every Portuguese-speaking place we visited.

Testimonial on Sopromar Website

What’s more, he became hell-bent on learning to read the language too. While visiting the island of São Miguel, he purchased what he referred to as ‘a new paperback’. Here it is:

“So what’s the plot?” I asked as a joke.

“Not sure, I think it’s about gardening. The suspense is killing me!” he replied, his eyes glued to the page.

When our trip ended, I expected this obsession would too. But no. David continued to practise a little bit every day. And he enrolled in online Portuguese lessons, hired a private tutor, and drove to the Portuguese district in Hamilton Ontario whenever he had an uncontrollable urge to annoy the hell out of the busy merchants.

To what end, I would often wonder. To learn Portuguese, he would often simply reply. But it’s just so hard, I’d say. So what! he’d say back.

A few weeks ago, he showed me a little video he had quietly filmed without my knowing.  

Here is a hot-off-the-press Portuguese presentation (about our trip) by David, my husband, the Portuguese-wannabe, and the most patient man I know.

Interest is in the Mind of the Beholder!

When I wrote Ready to Come About, I expected there’d be sailors who would appreciate my accounts of our improbable, often perilous, year on the high seas. And there are… many.  For example, Katherine Stone, of Canadian Yachting, wrote, in part:

I can truly attest this is a great page turner and a MUST read for any woman who thinks that she couldn’t possibly go cruising, cross an ocean, or who needs to get out of her comfort zone to grow and have an adventure—possibly learning more about herself. This isn’t to say men won’t find the book interesting or enjoyable, as they certainly will.

Katherine Stone, Canadian Yachting

Rob Mazza, of Good Old Boat, described my memoir as well-written, pleasurable, and “both an inspiration and a cautionary tale”.

And, a Goodreads reviewer expressed:

A thoroughly enjoyable seagoing adventure story written with style and precision. An ex-sailor myself, I can assure you that it is highly realistic and includes just the right amount of boating jargon and terminology to be easily understood by all.

Warren, Goodreads Review

Of course I am very pleased with the enthusiastic support by the sailing community. However, I did not set out to write the book as purely a sailing memoir.

I hoped there would be an occupational therapy audience, given that the concepts of autonomy, self-determination and the right to take risks, all values central to the profession, are explored in the book. And that turned out to be the case. In the most recent issue of The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists’ magazine, Occupational Therapy Now, Sue Baptiste remarked:

Ready to Come About is totally awesome—absolutely! It emerges as a powerful metaphor and a testament to believing in self, taking chances, relationships, choice… In short, it is a thesis on occupation and spirit.

Sue Baptiste, Professor Emerita, Rehabilitation Sciences, McMaster University

And I really hoped there would be moms and dads who could relate to our struggles to give our young-adult kids the freedom they needed to grow into themselves.  Here’s what Sharon—one of many parents— expressed on that front:

Every thought and questioning she had about her children and their futures were the same thoughts and questions I have/had as a parent.

It is a fun read, a thoughtful read, and somewhat of a study on human spirit. I would totally recommend this book to anybody who wants to, at the end of the book, close it and go, “ahhh, that was soooooooo good.”

Sharon, Goodreads Review

What never crossed my mind, though, was that Ready to Come About would attract crafters.  Yet it has. Most recently, I received an email from intrepid knitter and knitting instructor, Lucy, of Lucy Neatby Designs, who said she picked up my memoir at a used bookstore. In her newsletter she described it as a happy pre-pandemic find and stated she was completely hooked when she read the part in which, at a dinner party… having had a lot of wine… I concluded that a knitting project was more important than a life raft on an ocean crossing. Here is the excerpt:

Boredom!” I blurted before she had a chance. “Honest to God. Not storms, not sharks — it’s boredom!” I repeated louder, with more conviction. “Our friend Cameron said his dad told him a friend of a friend —”

“Good grief, Sue,” Colleen said, looking over at Roger.

“Surprising, I know. Ironically, having a knitting project will be more important than a life raft!”

Sue Williams, Excerpt from Ready to Come About

Check out Lucy’s newsletter to read the full review, and, while you are at it, why not browse her incredible website. She is one creative woman!

I am so happy my memoir is speaking to so many people in so many different ways.

There are lots of ways to read a book!