Love With a Chance of Drowning could be just another traveller girl meets traveller boy and they sail off into the sunset, except it’s not. For a start, Torres DeRoche is terrified of deep water. She has a dilemma: Ivan is a handsome Argentinian with a dream to explore the world by yacht, and Torre doesn’t want to lose him. So she does a sailing course, gets on board and off they sail on Amazing Grace from the Americas through the South Pacific towards Australia, but her fear is travelling with them and soon enough, she’s overwhelmed by seasickness, the unpredictability of the ocean, and fear.
“I’m done with the waves, the vomiting and the masochistic sport of ocean sailing,” she writes in her candid memoir. “I need to face up to the truth: I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this.”
Torre’s parents are American and the family moved to Australia before she was born. At age 24, Torre decided to travel and left Australia for the US. After a while she meets Ivan in Los Angeles and her travel plans go where she had never imagined. Torre and Ivan now live in Thailand in a $5-a-night bungalow with a million dollar view.
For more on her gripping adventure, you’ll have to read the book! The movie rights were sold even before the e-book became a paper version. Living with your boyfriend in confined, salt-encrusted quarters is a huge test on a relationship, and the book is almost as much about how they learn to love and trust and overcome their differences, as it is about the voyage. Her writing style is surprisingly frank about intimate details of their relationship. It’s a romantic book but Torre doesn’t flinch about telling what life at sea is really like. Conquering fears is a popular topic for travel books, but this one never stoops to banal pop psychology or melodramatic cliches. Quite simply, it’s a gem – more like a rough diamond.
Taste for Travel talks to Torre:
1. How did you cover the costs of your ocean adventure?
Ivan, the man I sailed with, had been preparing to sail solo before I met him, so he had already bought the boat and fitted it out for the voyage. I was very lucky to be invited along on his ready-to-go voyage!
There’s a misconception that sailing is only accessible to the grotesquely wealthy, but Ivan had to work extremely hard from a place of disadvantage to save enough money to fund the boat and the adventure. He immigrated to the US when he was 17 and he could hardly speak any English. He worked at Starbucks full-time and, while putting himself through university and paying for rent and food, he also managed to save enough money to buy his first boat. After he got his degree, he worked his way up in an IT job and put away all his earnings for a bigger boat and a sailing kitty.
The boat is the biggest cost of sailing. Once that is paid for, it’s actually a cheap way to see the world.
2. Do you foresee a day when you both will settle in one place, or is wanderlust incurable?
It’s too soon to say. Depending on the day that you ask that question, the answer varies. Wanderlust is definitely incurable, but the need to nest is strong too. There is an ongoing battle between those two desires.
3. Fellow sailors seem to have a profound sense of community and support for each other. How did this help you on your voyage?
Fellow sailors helped us out too many times to count. A French sailor saved us from beaching our boat one day when a strong wind caught us off guard and pushed us ashore. A Swedish sailor, also a carpenter, mended several broken pieces of equipment on our boat. A New Zealander fixed a problem with our automatic steering pilot that had caused trouble for a long time. An American sailor warned us with an air horn one day when we almost ran into a reef… The list goes on!
You’re on your own out there. You can’t just pick up the phone and dial 000 for emergency, or 1300-FIX-MY-BOAT. (Oh, how we could’ve used that service!) On the ocean, if you don’t help someone out, they might die. It’s that simple. Everyone out there knows this, so there’s a strong sense of responsibility to others that doesn’t exist in cities.
4. Sailing gives people the opportunity to see environmental concerns up close – what did you observe and what advice do you have?
The South Pacific was a stunning shade of transparent violet-blue, and we never saw anything horrible, like floating islands of rubbish. But right off the Californian coast, the water was littered with deflated helium balloons that said: “I love you!” and “It’s a boy!” and “Congratulations!” These cheerful gifts probably ended up suffocating turtles. Great.
I think human have good hearts, but we don’t always give a lot of thought to the bigger consequences of our actions. If we stop to contemplate cause and effect a little more often than we do, we could perhaps leave a smaller footprint. It just takes a short pause to ask questions like, “Where will this balloon end up?”
5. Why is sailing a particularly inspiring adventure for women?
Whether you’re a woman, a man, a senior citizen, or a kid, sailing will be inspiring for the same reason: You can explore the world by the power of the wind! Arriving to a new place by sailboat—even if it’s only an hour from where you first started—is always an incredibly empowering experience. That sense of accomplishment is cumulative, and eventually it builds up to a mantra that you get to keep for life: “If I can do this, I can do anything.”
Thanks for talking to us, Torre, and I wish you a squillion book sales. You can read more about Torre on her blog www.fearfuladventurer.com
Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torres DeRoche, pub by Viking, $A29.95. See the trailer here:
Other posts on curious women’s memoirs:
- Ailsa’s 1200km walk across Spain
- Claire’s new life on a Greek Island
- Carolyn’s up and down adventures in Morocco