From the Sailor's Pen

Morgan Freeman - Love at first sight does exist.

Morgan Freeman and Friends - book cover The following is from the Introduction to the cookbook Morgan Freeman & Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause, by Wendy Wilkinson and Donna Lee, a book that was compiled to raise money for the Grenada Relief Fund after Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada in 2004.

Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman is an accomplished sailor, and Chairman of the National Sailing Hall of Fame's Honorary Advisory Board.



Love at first sight does exist. The first time I set eyes on a sailboat was in 1961. Graceful as a swan, it was gliding sensuously on San Francisco Bay, and I was smitten. Six years later, while working at the Stowe Playhouse in Stowe, Vermont, I sailed for the first time — on a reservoir in an 18-foot (5.49-meter) Lightning-class centerboard boat. Then I was not only smitten, I was hooked for life. Ever since those halcyon days, sailing has been more than a pastime for me — it has been my refuge and my passion.

I bought my first boat, a Holland-built Holiday 28, in Huntington Bay, Long Island, in 1971. By then, I was beginning to make good in New York theater. I was standby for Cleavon Little, who was starring in Purlie , and I had landed a plum television role on The Electric Company . I developed my skills as a sailor plying the waters off the coasts of Massachusetts and Maine. Those rough-and-tumble waters will develop a person's sea legs like no others can. And I was a young man with a taste for the challenge. What with the nor'easters, the fog, and the swift current, my sailing skills were honed to a pretty fine edge. Morgan Freeman - photo by Amanda Baker

For 16 years, I sailed out of Eastchester Bay, many times in the company of my dear friends Mel and Jane Boudrot, pretty much covering the waters and anchorages of Long Island Sound, Block Island, the Elizabeth Islands, Cape Cod, the coast of Maine, and up to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I am grateful now for the technical expertise I gained in the waters of the Northeast Coast. Sailing along these rocky coasts, sometimes in a blind fog, readied me for the extraordinary and challenging beauty I was to discover in the Caribbean.

I first sailed south in 1979, going to Bermuda on a 30-foot (9.14-meter) Alberg-designed sloop. The crew included my wife, Myrna; my youngest daughter, Morgana; and our cat, Zipper. It took 9 days to get there, and we stayed for 6 weeks, anchored in the shelter of White's Island in Hamilton Harbor. On the way back to New York in October, we hit our survival storm. Two hundred fifty miles due east of Newport News, Virginia, we ran into the worst weather I have ever experienced — sustained 50-knot winds and seas that appeared mountainous to me in my little sloop. Luckily, Morgana had already gone back to school, so it was just me, a deathly seasick Myrna, and Zipper on board. It is an experience that I will never, ever forget. It's like an exclamation point in my life.

Our first sail all the way to the Caribbean was in late summer of 1989. This time, I was with Myrna; one of our grandchildren, E'dena; and two friends, Billy Toles and Harry Smith, as crew. Six days out of Bermuda on our Shannon 38, Sojourner , we raised the light on Sombrero Rock, north of St. Martin, around 9:00 p.m. Two years later, we sailed across to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and I knew I had found my way to paradise. The beauty of these islands is incomparable.

IN 1993, I asked Harry to sail with me to the Spice Islands just for a look-see, and that's when I met my first Grenadian. His name is Champie, and he is still my friend today. Harry and I and his then-wife, Linda, gunk holed up the Grenadines as far as St. Lucia before heading back across the sea to the BVI.

Five years later, and with a new Shannon 43, Harry, Billy, and I set sail for Trinidad and then to the islands of Grenada, the anchor of the spectacular Grenadines and a true sailor's delight. The island has a fascinating history, which you will learn more about in this book, and its people are kind, generous, and full of fun.


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