Sea Over Bow: A North Atlantic Crossing


Sea Over Bow tells the story of my first ocean crossing. There are few truly wild places left in the world. The middle of the North Atlantic is one them. It’s a place to test yourself, certainly, but it’s also a place to think, and dream, and try to make sense of your life.

I was living in a tiny condo in Waterloo, Ontario when I met Chris, and though I was determined never to get involved with a man again, I decided quit my job, sell everything I owned, and sail away with him. What’s the worst that could happen, I asked myself? My heart was already broken.

Sea Over Bow is an adventure story, for sure, but it’s also about finding the courage to start again.

Published by Signature Editions

Available at The Nautical Mind Bookstore in Toronto and other independent bookstores

Also available online at Indigo and Amazon

Advance praise for Sea Over Bow

“More than a taut, well-told, and at times harrowing tale of a 26-day ocean passage, this is also a captivating story of family, self, and love lost and found. Kenyon swept me along from first page to last.”

— Ann Vanderhoof, author of An Embarrassment of Mangoes

Sea Over Bow is a charming and insightful look at the storms we have all survived, whether on the ocean or not, exploring the possibilities of how we might have both safety and freedom at the same time.”

—Diane Schoemperlen, author of This Is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison, and Other Complications

“From basking in warm Caribbean breezes and cruising the exotic Mediterranean to weathering tense storms at sea, Linda Kenyon has captured both the excitement and trepidation of embarking on a big voyage and the dangers of crossing an unforgiving ocean in a small boat. Seamlessly woven into this epic sailing journey is the moving story of the author’s past trials and life journey.

— Paul & Sheryl Shard, creators of the sailing adventure TV series Distant Shores

“Linda Kenyon’s Sea Over Bow is a gorgeous, lyrical and funny account of blue water sailing.”

–Kevin Patterson, author of The Water in Between: A Journey at Sea

Excerpt from Sea Over Bow

It was a long day, but by evening we made it to Fairport, just outside Rochester, where Dad would catch his train in the morning. I think being in the canal made him think about my brother John. Towards the end, Dad used to take him to the Welland Canal whenever he could. He’d tell Mom he was taking John to a doctor’s appointment or out to get groceries, but the two of them would always end up at their favourite spot just below one of the locks. (Mom didn’t like it when they went there. Not safe. Dad could stumble and fall in. John could roll over the edge.) They’d sip their coffee and wait for a boat to come through. When Dad saw the lock opening, he’d edge John’s wheelchair to the side of the canal and John would lean forward and put his hand out to feel the rush of air as the wall of steel passed by him.

While I cleared away the plates and made a pot of coffee, he started telling Chris about the time he and John went sailing in Hamilton Harbour. Oh, this is a good one, I thought.

John had arranged the whole thing with the help of the social worker at the hospital. The first challenge was getting John on board. While Dad and the captain tried to figure out some way to rig a bosun’s chair,

John wheeled his chair as close to the boat as he could get, grabbed the gunwales, and heaved himself over the side. John was pretty tall, and without legs, a little top-heavy. He teetered on the gunwales for a minute, then landed on the cockpit floor with a heavy thud.

“I meant to do that,” he said with a grin, pulling himself up onto the bench.

Once they were clear of the docks, the captain handed John the tiller and told him to aim for the bridge, then went forward to raise the sails. He didn’t know that John was almost blind. Before long, the boat was veering towards the breakwall. The captain didn’t blink an eye.

“More to starboard,” he said calmly.
John eased the boat to the left.
“The other starboard.”
John eased the boat to the right, and the sails caught the wind. “Now just keep the sails full.”

That was something John could do. He could feel the wind on his face, feel the boat surge ahead when he got it right. I can just see the two of them — the boat racing across the harbour, Dad hanging onto his Tilley hat, John at the helm, one hand on the tiller, the other resting casually on the back of the bench, sun on his face, wind ruffling his hair, mirrored sunglasses hiding the fact that he can’t really see where he’s going. I think it’s as close to free as he ever got. As either of them ever got.

I couldn’t help thinking of the two of them when the gates swung open and we motored out of the last lock in the Erie Canal. There was nothing between us and the ocean but a long stretch of river. As I stood at the bow, coiling our docklines, I found myself scanning the side of the canal. I knew they weren’t there, but in my mind I could see them, watching me, Dad with one hand on the back of John’s chair, John peering in the wrong direction. Dad raises his arm, waves his hat, and I wave back, with a heavy heart.

Sometimes the weight of being the one who got away is almost unbearable.


About the author

book photoLinda Kenyon is a Canadian writer who lives year-round with her husband Chris Hatton on one boat or another—either their 43-foot steel sailboat, currently in the Bahamas, or the boat they built in a meadow on their farm south of Owen Sound, Ontario.

Stories about their sailing adventures appear regularly in magazines and Linda has had many short stories published in Canadian literary journals.

She has written two books of flash fiction, You Are Here, published by Trout Lily Press, and This is a love song, sort of, published by Stonegarden Studios, as well as a book of nonfiction, Rainforest Bird Rescue: Changing the future for endangered wildlife, published by Firefly Books, which won a Science in Society Journalism Award from the Canadian Science Writers Association.

Before retiring to sail and write full-time, Linda was a communications professional at the University of Waterloo.