Suzanne Heywood and her Epically Misguided 70's Cruising Parents

Foiling Optimist

Super Anarchist
1,241
372
Vancouver BC.
The Guardian has another article to delight us students of human folly as it manifests in sailing. This is apparently from a forthcoming book by Suzanne Heywood coming out in April, called Wavewalker: Breaking Free
TL;DR, her mom and dad for, presumably the usual reasons, left the UK for nominally a 3 year tour, where they nearly all died in the southern indian ocean early on, but in the usual way, descended into a marginal cruising existing for more like a decade, trapping their children in a sea of massive disfunction. Check out the wildly dubious pirate ship they were sailing in though.
1183.jpg
 

Jim in Halifax

Super Anarchist
1,976
1,039
Nova Scotia
The Guardian has another article to delight us students of human folly as it manifests in sailing. This is apparently from a forthcoming book by Suzanne Heywood coming out in April, called Wavewalker: Breaking Free
TL;DR, her mom and dad for, presumably the usual reasons, left the UK for nominally a 3 year tour, where they nearly all died in the southern indian ocean early on, but in the usual way, descended into a marginal cruising existing for more like a decade, trapping their children in a sea of massive disfunction. Check out the wildly dubious pirate ship they were sailing in though.
1183.jpg
Builds character. And provided fodder for a budding author. Cool boat. HTFU.
 

Russell Brown

Super Anarchist
1,892
1,675
Port Townsend WA
I just read "the boy who fell to shore" By Charles Doane. Another story about a cruising family gone bad, except that innocent people died. Very interesting and a little too close to home at times, but I highly recommend the book..
 

Jud - s/v Sputnik

Super Anarchist
6,962
2,140
Canada
Well, after an unusual childhood, she definitely went the opposite direction and achieved the social status of a conventional/respectable upper middle class British life she had craved (complete with the requisite peerage Lady’s uniform, a “fascinator hat”), also earning a PhD and marrying a Lord. Heck ex-PM Tony Blair has endorsed her book! (See Amazon.)

After that childhood, chances are she is not part of the British yachting fraternity… :)

B6792917-96D7-4C91-9C00-AE3FF624749F.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Bull City

A fine fellow
7,449
3,054
North Carolina
I read the Guardian piece several hours ago, before seeing this thread, and based on her account, her parents were absolute shits. Here is a 2013 article about her father, Gordon Cook:

I was curious about the father, Gordon Cook, and found this as of 2013:


The last few sentences are ironic:

"They haven't done too badly without formal education," said Gordon.
"Jon is on his fourth Masters degree at the moment. Sue did a PHD in zoology before being head-hunted by McKinsey's. I like to think I saved them from the British education system!"
 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
72,140
14,542
Great Wet North
There was a lot of goofy parenting going on in the wake of the hippies.

At least they didn't name her Sunshine or Windwalker or some other equally stupid name.
 

_samwise_

New member
19
13
Cape Cod
My thoughts whenever I see young kids on a cruising boat, there is just no way to give kids the socialization they need. A few months is fine, but full time? Takes a village to raise a child, not a crew.
 

Bull City

A fine fellow
7,449
3,054
North Carolina
There was a lot of goofy parenting going on in the wake of the hippies.

At least they didn't name her Sunshine or Windwalker or some other equally stupid name.
The concept of cruising with young children didn't bother me, nor did the near sinking (although it may have been a bad idea to sail that route), I was more incensed over the abandonment and neglect.
 

Bull City

A fine fellow
7,449
3,054
North Carolina
Wait, there's more. From January 2016:


In December, 1990, things changed when Wavewalker was involved in an accident. According to Mrs Heywood, the vessel was badly damaged during Cyclone Sina when she was anchored at Musket Cove.

“By that time, I was back in England but my parents were still sailing her. It was a terrible storm and many boats, including Wavewalker, were driven on to the reef.

“This was Wavewalker’s third cyclone. We had one in the Indian Ocean (when we were on Isle Amsterdam after we were shipwrecked), one when we were sailing near New Caledonia and then Cyclone Sina.

“Wavewalker was badly damaged so my parents decided to go back to England to earn money to repair her. They left her, I understand, somewhere near Lautoka.

“It was buried in sand and much of her equipment was kindly stored either by the local harbourmaster or by the police. However, my parents have now forgotten many of the details,” she said.
 

Jud - s/v Sputnik

Super Anarchist
6,962
2,140
Canada
The concept of cruising with young children didn't bother me, nor did the near sinking (although it may have been a bad idea to sail that route), I was more incensed over the abandonment and neglect.
It should be noted, however, that he was awarded The Lady Swathling Trophy for meritorious seamanship, according to the all-knowing Internet :)

Definitely sounds like a very complicated family, as if she wrote her book to counter her father’s account of the voyage, I.e., an attempt to “set the record straight” about her “imprisonment” at sea. As in the famous movie Rashomon, many differing perspectives on the same event…
 
Last edited:

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
48,116
11,746
Eastern NC
I just read "the boy who fell to shore" By Charles Doane. Another story about a cruising family gone bad, except that innocent people died. Very interesting and a little too close to home at times, but I highly recommend the book..
By coincidence, I read that book recently, too... well really, after about the first 1/4 I skimmed the rest. Excellent example of how some people who are very smart in one way are very stupid almost every other way... and often are too ego-poisoned to realize it.

I felt sorry for all the normal cruisers they crossed paths with, and incredulous that either son or dad was ever held up as an example by anybody.
 

low bum

Anarchist
670
496
Tennessee
I think that hilarious ugly ass boat is his greatest crime. Lots of kids grow up hard and do great. Some are hot housed and adored on a pedestal and die with a needle in their arm.
 

Foiling Optimist

Super Anarchist
1,241
372
Vancouver BC.
It's definitely the neglect and dysfunctional relationship with her mother that jumps out. She was all alone taking care of her little bother with her parents out of the country, in 1986. I am actually the same age as her more or less and I'm pretty sure that in all Commonwealth countries in 1986, that was not a thing.
 

accnick

Super Anarchist
4,052
2,969
It's definitely the neglect and dysfunctional relationship with her mother that jumps out. She was all alone taking care of her little bother with her parents out of the country, in 1986. I am actually the same age as her more or less and I'm pretty sure that in all Commonwealth countries in 1986, that was not a thing.
That was an unreasonable amount of stress to put on a young teenager, basically alone in a foreign country, with very few resources and virtually no friends for a support system.

Totally unconscionable, no matter how self-reliant she might have been.
 

Bull City

A fine fellow
7,449
3,054
North Carolina
Definitely sounds like a very complicated fucked up and dysfunctional family,
FIFY

I think that hilarious ugly ass boat is his greatest crime. Lots of kids grow up hard and do great. Some are hot housed and adored on a pedestal and die with a needle in their arm.
No, his crime was to abandon and neglect his minor children. With regard to your second two sentences, examples abound, but there are usually mitigating or aggravating circumstances, and they do not constitute excuses for abandoning and neglecting minor children.

It's definitely the neglect and dysfunctional relationship with her mother that jumps out.
When it comes to neglect and abandonment, I think the father was equally if not more culpable.
 


Latest posts





Top