Adventurers Laurie Pane and his wife Carole will be at West Marine at 4750 Admiralty Way in Marina del Rey from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, August 9th, signing their book, Chasing Sunsets, which chronicles their extraordinary 40,000-mile voyage around the world visiting 56 countries, crossing three oceans and sailing over far more than seven seas.
In their travels Laurie, Carol and son Ryan — amongst many other noteworthy happenings — survived a lightning strike in Panama, endured depth-charges in Sri Lanka and were arrested by the secret police in Sudan.
Today, they reside in Burbank and are planning to cruise the Great Barrier Reef sometime in the future.
The Argonaut caught up with Laurie for an exclusive interview.
Argonaut: How long were you out there?
Pane: 1996 through 2002.
Argonaut: Whose idea was it and how did it all begin?
Pane: To make a very long story very short, my wife and I had bought the boat and planned the trip with our son Ryan, but she died of cancer. Two years later I found Carole and she crazily, or fortuitously — pick one — decided she would come with me and Ryan, who was eight at the time and 14 and a half when we got back.
Argonaut: What kind of boat was it?
Pane: A Mason 53. It’s a very good boat. One of the best things about the Mason 53 is it is a forgiving boat. You screw up and it sort of shrugs its shoulders and says, “Okay, fix it and I’ll wait.”
Argonaut: Did you see a lot of nasty weather during your years of sailing?
Pane: We covered over 40,000 miles and visited 56 countries and never had sustained winds at sea over 35 knots. Certainly we had squalls of more than that, but not sustained winds. The way we did that was being very patient and very careful. That’s one of the aspects we talk about at length in the seminars we do. I’d much rather sit in port and wait for the right weather than go out there and get beaten up.
Argonaut: What did you wish you had known before you set sail that you learned later?
Pane (smiling): I wish we knew that we would survive.
Argonaut: How did the reality match up to the expectation?
Pane: We didn’t know what to expect. We read all the books, subscribed to all the magazines and did all of the training we thought we needed to do. I’d been a sailor, albeit a coastal racing sailor, all my life, but I have to say that going offshore was far different than that.
Aside from that, we found that people are wonderful everywhere all round the world. We hoped for that, but didn’t really expect it. Even in the countries that are said to be “hostile” we never had a problem with the people.
Argonaut: Didn’t you get arrested in Sudan?
Pane: Yes. It took me about six hours to talk my way out of that one. They thought we had taken pictures of secret military installations; we thought we had taken pictures of camels. We were in the secret police compound surrounded by armed men. It’s a good story now, but it was scary then.
Argonaut: Did you ever feel in real danger during the sail?
Pane: The only time we were in real danger was on land. You’re only sailing for ten percent of the time. The other 90 percent you’re tied up to land in some fashion. It’s that hard stuff that’s the problem.
Argonaut: What was most unexpected?
Pane: Maybe Indonesia. Carole in particular was very apprehensive about going there and now we consider our five or six months that we spent there one of the highlights of the trip.
Argonaut: Is the threat of pirates a great worry?
Pane: Pirates are typically more interested in small freighters and tankers. And if you’re like me, a practicing, devout coward, you take notice of all the warnings. For example there’s an area at the bottom of the Red Sea that is a known pirate — if you want to call them that — hangout and we made sure we stayed 150 miles away from that area. We took a big detour. You can avoid these things, like the weather, by doing your homework.
Argonaut: What’s your feeling about bringing kids on such an extended voyage?
Pane: We were at an anchorage in Bora Bora with about 30-odd boats. There were five Australian boats, including us, and on those five boats were 15 kids. On the other 25 boats, which were mainly American, there were no kids. We tell people — don’t necessarily wait until your kids are off your hands before you do this thing. In fact, I go so far as to say if you don’t have a kid of your own, go rent one.
Argonaut: What were some of the biggest learning lessons you came away with?
Pane: Patience. I have to admit, it took me a year to get patient and (laughing) it took about 30 seconds to get impatient when we got back. Actually it does last a bit longer.
Life is a lot slower if you allow it to be. And it’s easier and less stressful if you allow it. That’s what cruising allows you to be.
Argonaut: What advice do you have for would-be circumnavigators?
Pane: Go do it. Don’t wait. Your boat will never be ready, you’ll never have enough money, the world will never be at peace, so go do it. (smiling) All the answers to everything you need to know are in my two books. Read them and that’ll tell you — then go do it.
After the signing, the Pane’s will conduct a cruising seminar where they will share their many experiences out at sea. More information can be found at www .chasingsunsetsthebook.com/.