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BC’s Tales of the Pacific | ‘Tightwads on the Loose’

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ALONG with eating at home more often and reconnecting with old friends, one of the many positive developments brought about by Covid is that I am reading more books than ever before. I just finished a whale of a tale and I want to recommend it to you.

The book is entitled “Tightwads on the Loose: A Seven Year Pacific Odyssey” by Wendy Hinman and was published in 2012. It recounts the adventures of Wendy and her husband as they sailed around the Pacific beginning in 2001. Starting in Seattle, Washington, they sailed along the coast of North America to Mexico, crossed to the Marquesas, Tuamotus, Bora Bora and Tahiti, Rarotonga, Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, the Solomons, Kiribati, Kwajalein, Pohnpei, Saipan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Okinawa and Japan, before returning to Seattle seven years later. Phew! 

They did not have much money, and the 31-foot sailboat they lived on would not be characterized as luxurious by anyone. In fact, they often chose their next port of call based on where free accommodations could be had. When other sailing couples motored into the marina from their live-aboard boats, Wendy and her husband rowed a small dinghy from the cheap cove. More than once, they had to take jobs where they landed because they did not have enough money to pay for repairs. 

Although it is primarily a recounting of their adventures, the author is at her best when she describes her marriage and how the joys and pains of the voyage help her grow as a person and how they affect her relationship with her husband. I love an author who looks outward to notice the waterfalls and dance festivals, but at the same time looks inward to describe the personal transformation taking place, taking note of the way they both impact and are impacted by the people and places they experience. Others agree. Note these reviews:

  • “Alternately hilarious, exciting and thought provoking, Tightwads on the Loose tells what happens when two people with very disparate personalities set out in a too small boat with a too small budget. It will take you on a glorious romp around the Pacific.” — Elsie Hulsizer, author
  • “Lively, thoughtful and entertaining. As the best cruising memoirs do, "Tightwads" rises above the pack by providing more than just the vicarious thrill of experiencing exotic anchorages and storms at sea. Hinman adeptly takes readers on a vividly detailed journey, but the book also delves deeper.” — Three Sheets Northwest

From the back cover of the book:

“Imagine spending 24 hours a day with your spouse in 31 not-so-square feet...for years; crossing the Pacific Ocean on two gallons of fuel; and tossing spaghetti marinara around your living room, then cleaning it up while bouncing like ice in a martini shaker. Tightwads on the Loose tells the story of Wendy and Garth, lured to sea by the promise of adventure. They buy a 31-foot boat that fits their budget better than it fits Garth's large frame and set sail for an open-ended voyage, never imagining they'd be gone seven years, or cover 34,000 miles at the pace of a fast walk. They live without most ‘necessities’ and learn that teamwork and a sense of humor matter most as they face endless ‘character-building opportunities.’ They make a long-anticipated visit to the island where Garth had been shipwrecked as a teenager, only to find it had become a penal colony. An electronic catastrophe in the Solomon Islands leaves them without navigation equipment, which forces them to trade their free-wheeling lifestyle for one that seems straight out of a '60s sitcom: jobs at a U.S. Army base in the Marshall Islands. In Asia, they dodge typhoons and ships that threaten to turn their home into kindling. Finally they endure a grueling 49-day nonstop ocean crossing. None of this prepares them for their arrival ‘home’ to a post-9/11 America which leaves them wondering what had changed more, them or the world.” 

The book is a joy to read. I cannot wait to start her second book, “Sea Trials.” Enjoy “Tightwads on the Loose.” You will thank me.

BC Cook, PhD lived on Saipan and has taught history for 20 years. He travels the Pacific but currently resides on the mainland U.S.

  

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