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Cruising Journals - Pam Wall



A lifelong sailor, Pam and her husband have been cruising together for almost 40 years. Their latest sailing adventure was crossing the Atlantic to Europe and back.

Pam says, "When preparing to on an extensive, or for that matter a short term cruise, many of us tend to overlook the importance of ensuring our own safety. One of the most important pieces of my equipment is a life raft. Let's hope you never have to use one, but having it aboard could just save your life."

Advice for Cruisers

I've found there are so many little items I need out there on the water that I only learned the value of once I used them. But before I had them, I didn't even know they existed. I have a list I keep that I am happy to share with you."

Most cruisers focus their equipment list on the obvious items like navigation instruments, radar, EPIRBs and the many products that come quickly to mind when you’re about to take off cruising.

But there are so many little items you only learn the value of once they are used. I have always listened and learned from other cruisers what they find most valuable and, believe me, nine items out of ten they are not what you would think to have aboard your boat. I have a list of important items that I recommend, only because I have come to find them invaluable. Before I had them, I didn't even know they existed. My friends and customers write to me from around the world telling me how fantastic the various products I recommended have been to them! It is fun to find out what you knew nothing about, and when using it to realize what a great idea it is! It is in this spirit that I offer the following product recommendations. I hope you find something useful.

A lifelong sailor, Pam and her husband have been cruising together for over 36 years! Their latest sailing adventure was crossing the Atlantic to Europe and back.

I grew up sailing on Lake Michigan, quite a difference from sailing on the oceans! My home was outside Chicago, and every weekend of my childhood was spent racing with my Dad on his various, highly competitive, racing sailboats. Evenings in the summer were precious to me at the Columbia Yacht Club on Chicago’s beautiful waterfront. My Dad’s first significant present to me was a small Penguin sailing boat. I named it PAM’S PONY because I always wanted my own horse. Those lovely summer afternoons when I was not racing on my Dad’s big boat became, for me, the epitome of joy racing around the buoys with other club brats in their Penguins! By the way, I had a succession of sailing boats called "PAM’S PONY" but never did get the real thing!

While at the University of Wisconsin, I got no less than 10 marriage proposals! I owe all these romantic endearments to the fact that I was the President of the Hoofer's Sailing Club on Lake Mendota. All the guys wanted a girl who loved sailing.

I always dreamed of being able to sail year around, instead of summers only. After graduating from cold University of Wisconsin I drove down to Fort Lauderdale where I would remain until today.

My Dad came to the land of sun and fun, and in spite of the awful change to saltwater, we did a lot of cruising in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas, and it was wonderful.

Then one very auspicious day I saw a cute young man walking down the dock. I kind of liked the cut of his jib, so I went out and introduced myself. He was a young Australian who was sailing his tiny 30 foot wood sloop around the world!

Andy never left Fort Lauderdale without me, and we have been cruising together now for over 36 years! We sailed his petite sloop CARRONADE to Europe.

That was our first real cruise together was across the Atlantic just after we were married. Making this passage on a 30’ sloop, with no toilet, a 2 burner kerosene stove, a 4HP diesel engine that never worked and a sleeping blanket laid on the cabin sole with the mast planted between my two legs, this was my introduction to my first cruise with Andy Wall, my new husband. The two of us had the time of our lives, and I realized how much you enjoy sailing even under such primitive conditions. I am absolutely convinced that Andy married me because I was the ONLY person who could stand upright in his tiny boat. Oh well, I guess there are some advantages to being vertically challenged.

We spent five wonderful years sailing in those magical waters. Then we sailed back across the Atlantic to build a larger boat since we had a family in mind! Together we built hull number one of the Freya 39 and after ten years of working and building a boat (and a family), we took off in our Freya 39, KANDARIK, and sailed around the world with our two small children.

After six and half years, we sailed back into Port Everglades and I began working for West Marine's brand new store in Fort Lauderdale, I have just celebrated my 16th anniversary working in this same wonderful store, but I have never stopped cruising. The family once again sailed away for a year to take our children to school in France. We couldn't afford the airfare, so we sailed them over to the ancient town of Vannes in Brittany France.

We spend as much time in the Bahamas, Maine and Caribbean as we can. And just two years ago, on our way to the Bahamas for a couple of months, we kept going to Bermuda, then the beautiful Azores, and ended up in Portugal and Spain!

Sailing our boat is what keeps us alive, keeps our lives full of adventure and makes our dreams a reality.

Our latest sailing adventure was our Atlantic crossing to Europe and back, and now we are planning some higher latitude sailing up in Maine, Scotland and Norway.

My position at West Marine is such fun! I am called an Outfitting Manager, but in reality I have no customers, as everyone I meet and work with becomes a friend. I help these friends outfit their boats for blue water sailing, and hopefully offer good advice on where to go, how to get there, the most delicious restaurants, the friendliest marinas and just about anything I can add to help them enjoy their cruising.

Andy and I try to take time off in the summer to go cruising. Our busy time in Florida is the fall, winter and early spring, and we both like to be here for that hectic time of the year to help as many as we can- me at West Marine, and Andy through his own sailboat rigging company.

Pam Wall - Expert Sailor

Pam Wall

Outfitting Manager, West Marine Ft. Lauderdale

A lifelong sailor, Pam and her husband have been cruising together for over 36 years!