Pam Wall is an accomplished cruising sailor and advocate for women in sailing. Pam and her family circumnavigated on the Freya 39, Kandarik, that they built themselves.
She’s recently endured family tragedy, but remains as active as ever in the cruising scene and still sails Kandarik with her son, Jamie, from her home in Fort Lauderdale.
How did you get started in sailing?
I was born and raised in Chicago. My dad always, always had sailboats. Every weekend there was a sailboat race, I was down there. I became the president of the sailing club at the University of Wisconsin. The whole time I was in school, during the sailing months, which was just a couple of weeks, we were out in Tech dinghies, and C scows, and things like that on Lake Mendota, which is right there on campus.
Do you recall the “lightbulb” moment that inspired you to want to go cruising?
While I was in Chicago as a young girl, a tiny wooden sloop came into the Chicago Yacht Club with a wonderful couple from South Africa, Bjorn and Margaret. They had just sailed this little boat from South Africa over to the United States, up through the Hudson River and the Erie Barge Canal, through the Great Lakes and into Chicago. I was entranced with this tiny little boat having done something so courageous, something that was so far beyond what I could even imagine. I’ll never forget them because I thought to myself, “This is what I want to do someday.”
How did you and Andy evolve into Kandarik, your iconic Freya 39?
The Freya design was the famous racing boat in Australia in the ‘60s that won the Sydney Hobart Race three times in a row. If you were a young Aussie man like Andy, you always wanted to buy or build a Freya. We borrowed a car and drove to California, and spent three of the coldest, wettest, most miserable months laying out hull number one of the Freya 39.
So you physically helped build the boat?
Oh, yeah, we did. Talk about fiberglass dust and filth. It was freezing. I remember the resin wasn’t kicking, because it was too cold in this big sort of warehouse that we were in, and I had to go and get Tilley lamps and put them all around so the resin would go off. After three months we got the hull finished, and we put the ballast in 100lb pigs—10,000lb of ballast in 100lb pigs, sliding down into a fiberglass bare hull. Unbelievable. We put a temporary deck in and trucked it back to Fort Lauderdale.
You’ve been through tough times, losing your husband and then your daughter. I can’t relate to the level that you’ve gone through, but I lost my mom three years ago, and my dad is still trying to figure out his own cruising plans. How have you been able to climb out of that?
I thought I had lost my life. But I still had a wonderful son who needed me just as much as I needed him. I got through it by keeping busy and doing seminars. I think that’s what saved me. When I get up here and talk about everything Andy taught me and about my beautiful daughter, Samantha, and what a wonderful crewmember she was and what a wonderful mother to her little girl, it keeps those memories alive for me. I imagine they’re up there watching, saying, “You go, girl!”
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Source : Wind Tv / Sail Magazine