Neal is one of fewer than 300 people in history who have sailed around the world via Cape Horn solo. He shared some of what it was like to be faced with 80 foot tall waves and being continuously knocked down as he was trying to round the Horn. Over dinner, he talked about his plans to sail solo around the world again, probably in an upcoming Vendee Globe Race.
|Neal Petersen on the beach with his racing catamaran in the background|
He has a busy schedule of sailing, is building a house in the Dominican Republic and doing motivational speaking around the world. I knew from my sailing books that he grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. Neal is an indigenous black African who grew up in apartheid. He also had a physical disability being born with a defective hip. He had much to overcome. And today he and his wife have an education foundation called No Barriers. And he goes around the world being a key note speaker for various corporate conventions. One of the things that he shared tonight is to follow your dreams and to decide what your life is going to be.
He definitely had lots of barriers to success. He learned about sailing from reading books while he was recuperating from hip surgery. He wanted a sailboat but his family had no money. So he asked his father to take him to the Royal Cape Yacht Club where the members were all very rich and very white. There are still these barriers and many more that stand in the way of equality. His story about the yacht club reminded me that there is one in this town that allows only white men to join. Separateness and exclusivity are still very much a part of life here and in so many other places in the world.
It was really great to be able to talk with him about sailing and the obstacles that he has overcome. And tomorrow he asked us to sail up the coast for the day. I am looking forward to learning more about this interesting fellow who I have followed through books and a PBS special on his life.
My main obstacle at the moment is finding time to work on the computer and read blogs. I am taking my iPad for the voyage tomorrow so maybe there will be a chance to read while on the trip. Otherwise I will catch up when I can. I am exhausted now and going to bed. The alarm will come early enough in the AM to remind me to get on the road to the marina.