Friends recently stumbled on a great movie about Nancy and Bob Griffith on Amazon’s Prime Video. Following Seas is the true story of this couple and their family, and their incredible adventures about Awahnee, their Uffa Fox-designed sailboat. Fifty-three feet long, beam of 12 feet, and a draft of 7’ 6”, the double ended boat took them on numerous offshore passages in the ‘60s and early ‘70s.
The original wood Awahnee was lost on a reef in French Polynesia, but the family salvaged what they could (amazing story in itself, including how they recovered the diesel engine). They made it to New Zealand, where they built a new Awahnee, in the new technology of ferrocement. This second Awahnee would become the first ferrocement sailboat to circumnavigate, including a circumnavigation below 60 degrees, basically circumnavigating Antarctica.
Nancy captured much of their adventures on film, and the family put this movie together a few years back. It seems even more unbelievable watching the vintage movie film. And remarkable as seen through modern eyes, as they had nothing that we take for granted today. No GPS, no electronics, none of our modern marvels of technology. Even their clothing and foul weather gear was pitiful compared to what we enjoy today.
Bob Griffith was a very resourceful and strong-willed man, and the couple were definitely molded in the McGyver mindset. Nothing could stop them, and how they solved problem after problem showed serious tenacity, focus, and grit.
The Griffiths did more bluewater miles than any of us can expect to accomplish in our lives.
In 1972, Bob Griffith was awarded the prestigious Blue Water Medal by the Cruising Club of America. After some 200,000 miles under sail, some of it in the harsh conditions of polar exploration, the couple published Blue Water: A Guide to Self-Reliant Sailboat Cruising.
I highly recommend watching this true story. Following Seas, on Prime Video.
By the way, When And If was just in Annapolis. This boat was built for General George Patton (then colonel) in 1939. Patton said that when and if he survived the war, he and his wife, Bea, would sail around the world. Unfortunately he died in Europe before he got the chance…
Have a great week.