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


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.

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.



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