Always looking for an inspirational story, I couldn’t help but purchase Across the Savage Sea by Maude Fontenoy, copyright 2004, from a local library’s used bookstore. For the price of $1, I eagerly paid for this book and added it to the autobiographical section of my bookcase.
Maude Fontenoy is a French woman who at the age of 25 set a personal goal to be the first woman to successfully row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean. She managed this as a solo voyager, unsupported except for weather and navigation reports via phone contact. What makes her feat even more intriguing is that she opted not to take the route considered easier, the southern route, but rather to cross the Atlantic along the daunting northern route, notorious for its brutal storms. Even more unconventional, she decided to row from west to east.
Maude took a leave from her Paris real estate agency business, gained some financial support through sponsors to supplement her personal funds, and traveled to Newfoundland, joining her boat that was shipped in a freight crate. Maude’s boat had been christened back in France as, Pilot, for one of her sponsors was the Pilot pen company. Once the Pilot was meticulously assembled to its 24-foot length and her four-months of provisions carefully stowed, Maude’s final preparations revolved around tracking favorable weather conditions, earmarking the day to begin her journey, and savoring the last hot meal, comfy night’s slumber, and warm shower that she’d dearly miss for an extended time.
On June 13, 2003, Maude shoved off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, from Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, not to set foot on terra firma again for nearly four months. In her book she shares captivating details about the insurmountable strength, both physically and mentally, that were absolute necessities to remain focused and ultimately succeed. Amazingly, just in one storm of the many that she encountered, she and her boat withstood 17 capsizings! Finally, 117 days after leaving Newfoundland, she stepped foot onto land at La Coruna, Spain, on October 9, 2003 to be welcomed by her family, friends, and supporters.
While Across the Savage Sea is a quick read of 149 pages, I found it thrilling. What I appreciate the most was learning of Maude’s tenacity, courage, and very determined will. In some fashion I can relate to her story. My husband, Steve, rode his bicycle across the United States in 2005 over a 79-day journey. While riding a bicycle with two wheels in contact with the land beneath him was extremely different than rowing across an ocean, I still witnessed his tenacity, courage, and very determined will to accomplish his personal goal, electing to enjoy his journey mainly solo and unsupported.
What I am reminded in reading this book, is that we are all on a journey! Perhaps not rowing across the Atlantic, but we each have our own unique journey through life and our very own story!
I’d love to hear about your favorite autobiography or even better about your own personal journey. Go to the “Contact Diane” tab on this website and send me a note.