Aebi, Tania, and Bernadette Brennan. Maiden Voyage. (N.Y.: Ballantine, 1989, rpt. 1996). ISBN 0345410122 (paperback, available used in various earlier printings)
Aebi first published the contents of Maiden Voyage as a series of articles in Cruising World, a magazine that promotes long-term and coastal cruising. Brennan was the editor of the magazine at the time, and the two struck up a long-distance friendship as Aebi submitted article after article while the voyage was still taking place. At the time, readers were of many minds about her voyage, some believing that her father was criminally reckless in allowing her (much less encouraging her!) to sail around the world alone, and others praising her bravery. How do you respond to her description of her preparation and the risks she faced? Was it a wise decision, a calculated risk, or a futile gesture of rebellion against the norms of her society? How would you compare Aebi's decision with Thoreau's? Can you imagine yourself undertaking something similarly risky in the next four years?
Although the articles contained many of the details of her actual sailing experiences and stops in various ports, large amounts of the book introduce new information about her family's background, and especially her parents' tortured marriage and her mother's mental condition. This information was a complete surprise to those who read the articles, but it may help to provide context for the choices she and her father made. How do you respond to what she tells you about her family? What does your own family's background have to do with your current course of action at Goucher, and how do you think it will continue to affect you over the coming years?
Like the characters in Voltaire's Candide, Aebi is both the observer and the observed in her interactions with people in the ports where she makes landfall. Think about the difference between her mode of travel and that of a typical tourist arriving in the same places on a huge cruise ship. What difference does the way she travels make to her perception of the places she sees and the people she meets? How are the people she meets moved by their encounter with her? What would you do if someone on a similar voyage walked up to you at the Inner Harbor one day and said hello?
Aebi's relationship with other sailors establishes pretty quickly the difference between the way people who live aboard cruising boats interact with each other and the way people on land structure their relationships. Pay attention to the social rules and values that appear to be structuring sailors' relationships to one another, and to the people they meet on land. Family members obviously remain locked in something like the same relationship to Aebi as they were when she left New York Harbor, but even those relationships change. Most especially, how does Aebi's relationship with Olivier evolve and what rules do they establish to define what they are to each other. Define the creole verb, "to blong," in your own terms.
Some Aebi-related web pages. Did you know that, before she sailed, her friends in NYC who became "heroes in the music world" were members of some important '80s post-Punk bands (15)? Do you know what she was doing as of August 2006? Do you know what her father's art looks like and what he's doing with his life these days? Check the links and find out. Please send links and bibliographic details of print sources as you discover them so that we can enrich the whole course web site.