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Bull Canyon: A Boatbuilder, a Writer and Other Wildlife Hardcover – April 25, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


In 1980, after eleven years of sailing around the world, Lin Pardey and her boatbuilder husband, Larry, needed time-out from the life aquatic. The couple settled in Bull Canyon, California, a rural locale that featured open spaces and wildlife galore but no electricity or phone service. For four years, Larry and Lin stayed in one place. Lin Pardey's memoir of that time offers a straightforward, bittersweet account of two seafaring soul mates adjusting to life on land. The reasons for choosing the barely- there community, located sixty miles southeast of Los Angeles, are basic. Thanks to their landlord friends, the Pardeys pay no rent for their stone cabin. There is ample space for Larry to build a boat that when completed would take the couple on another nautical sojourn. Lin, meanwhile, can focus on her blossoming writing career, which includes working on a book and regular articles for sailing magazines. Though Bull Canyon isn't as exotic as the couple's books about sailing on their beloved cutter Seraffyn, land life provides its own set of challenges. Lin and Larry have to adjust to a world surrounded by others nosy neighbors, wave upon wave of rodents, and impromptu visits from fans, friends, and family. This is not ideal for two people whose work relies on uninterrupted concentration. As Larry's boat nears completion and the Pardeys' stint as landlubbers winds down, Bull Canyon's bucolic quaintness evaporates. The state builds a freeway nearby, which gets real estate developers interested. In between writing assignments and errands, Lin spurs a movement for her rustic neighborhood to finally get electricity and phone service. Jealousy and bitterness increase among the residents. The one challenge the Pardeys can't meet is the unanticipated ravages of time. The primitive yet peaceful marvels and special intimacy that Lin once adored become inconveniences. After the utilities arrived,this intimacy, along with the camaraderie of the canyon folks seemed to disappear she writes.. . . I realized many of the original charms of canyon life were now just a nuisance. Through out this unusual but appealing story Lin remains a forthright and authentic narrator. And she learned an invaluable lesson: In taking their own rugged approach at domesticity, Larry and Lin Pardey discovered that the sea was where they always belonged. - --Midwest Book Reviews

Soon after meeting, Lin and Larry Pardey , two free and kindred spirits, set sail in Seraffyn from California,ultimately spending 11 years traversing the globe, writing articles about sailing to supplement their income. Back in southern California, their lives took a dramatic turn when they decided to take root in dry, brush-filled Bull Canyon, in a region prone to wild fires, and build a new boat--out of very flammable wood. With a cat named Dog to help manage their rat problem and a dog named Cindy running security, the Pardeys spent three years building the 29-foot sailboat, Taleisin, selling off Seraffyn, which had taken them around the world, to buy time. But Lin immediately felt cheated; was $40,000 enough to compensate for the freedom I'd given up? This idea of freedom vs. security is like fuel for Bull Canyon; it practically runs on it. Their first two years in the canyon Lin spent countless hours getting phone lines installed a crucial stepping stone toward electricity, which she achieved in their third summer (it too brought some regret). Their accomplishment is significant, highly Romantic, and admirable. With many homespun snapshots included, readers may feel as if they're following the fantastic adventures of an old friend. --Publishers Weekly

There s something for almost everybody in the memoir Bull Canyon by Lin Pardey, who is very popular among readers of a nautical bent. Pardey and her spouse, Larry, lived on a boat for 11 years, sailing the world, but decided to live on land for a couple of years while they built a larger and better boat. They rented an almost-inaccessible stone cottage in Bull Canyon, 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The house had been abandoned for eight years, except by rats and bees. So first, they had to make the place livable. Pardy writes about everyday life at home; hard times battling rattlesnakes, frogs, thieves, allergies, rain, wind, threats of fire and a lack of electricity; and thoughtful topics such as Lin and Larry s relationship, wondering whether to have children, and even whether to adopt a pet. The book reminded me of Under the Tuscan Sun as Lin and Larry mingled with the people nearby and as they struggled to fix up the old place, which had a personality of its own. This is a kind of reflective domestic adventure. It is also the story of a woman who discovers she can make a living as a writer and a good writer, at that. Her phrasing is just smooth and easy to read: I settled under the limbs of the diadora pine and swept my eyes around the homestead we d repaired and built up together. As I sat there, I began to marvel at the flexible and strong partnership we d formed, one that had been built piece by piece, then shaped slowly and carefully. In the end, she and Larry went back to the sea aboard their new boat: I d come to the canyon thinking I d wanted ... a home, a sense of belonging after years of being a foreigner. But I d left knowing I am and always will be a foreigner wherever I live, for I am addicted to change. The challenge of new projects, the quest for new beginnings, is as necessary to me as food, as sleep. It is a warm and wonderful book. --The Record-Courier, Mary Louise Ruehr

About the Author

Lin Pardey is internationally famous for her sailing and boatbuilding expertise. With her husband, Larry, she has sailed more than 200,000 miles and has won many awards. She is the author of eleven books and has created several instructional videos on sailing. The Pardeys make New Zealand their home base, cruising on board Taleisin part of each year.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Paradise Cay Publications; First Edition edition (April 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1929214677
  • ISBN-13: 978-1929214679
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,883,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lin and Larry Pardey - The Cold Hard Facts

Born 1939, Victoria, Canada. Raised on Shuswap Lake, Okenagan Valley and in Vancouver. First Boat, Indian dug out canoe, age 9. First sail boat - self-restored 8' EL TORO pram, age 17. 1st cruising boat - self-restored 20 foot Colin Archer Cutter. 1st racing boat, age 19 - self-restored 27 foot Tumlaren Sloop. 205,000 sea miles

Born 1944, Detroit, Michigan. Raised in Los Angeles County. Early sailing experience - summer sailing on lakes of Michigan in 14 foot Old Town Sloop until age of 5. Studied accounting and music. 198,000 sea miles

Lin and Larry
Met in 1965. Romanced three weeks. Joined forces June 12, 1965. Married October 31st 1968.

Lyle Hess designed cutter, styled on lines of Falmouth Working Boats. Original hull (Renegade) designed in 1954 for Hale Field of Newport Beach as gaff-cutter. Marconi rig designed for Pardeys in 1964. Built by Lin and Larry. Launched October 31st, 1968. Length on deck 24' 7". Waterline 22' 2" beam 8' 11", draft 4' 8", displacement loaded for cruising 10,686 pounds, sail area - working plan 461 square feet. Construction - mahogany on oak steam bent frames with every third frame sawn. Solid teak decks, original cost $7,765 U S.Voyaged - 47,000 miles - eleven years, eastward through Mexico, Panama Canal, to Europe and Baltic. Three years in Mediterranean, south through Red Sea, across Indian Ocean and through China seas to Japan, then Canada and south back to launching port of Newport Beach, California
Designed for Lin and Larry by Lyle C Hess in 1977. Development of Seraffyn. Launched 10/ 31/1983. Length on deck 29' 6", waterline 27' 6", beam 10' 9", draft 5' 3", displacement for cruising 17,800. . Sail area - 740 square feet. Construction - Built by Lin and Larry, teak carvel planking over sawn black locust frames, bronze floors, bronze hanging knees. Solid teak decks, material cost $US 38,000 (1980 dollars).
Voyaged - 80,000 miles sailing westward from California through Pacific. Two voyages from New Zealand to Australia and return. Then through Cook Straits of New Zealand to Sydney, south to Tasmania, westward through Australian bight to Indian Ocean, South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, England, Scotland and Norway. East coast of US, then south to Argentina and westward around Cape Horn across outbound track to complete circumnavigation in 2003, then on to Canada . After spending three seasons exploring the sounds from Desolation sound to Seattle she cruised the west coast of North America then cross the Pacific via the Line Islands, Samoa and Tonga to finish another circumnavigation in New Zealand.

Designed and built by C and W Bailey, 1895. Gaff cutter, length on deck 37' beam 7'6" draft 4'9" Ninety-five percent of hull is original. Has been in commission 100 of its 110 years. Purchased 2004 and currently being upgraded cruised and raced at home base in New Zealand during southern summers. Sailed to second in division, 2005 International Classics Regatta, Auckland. 1st in division 2006 International Classics Regatta, Auckland, 2nd 2008 Anniversary day regatta. With Taleisin back at her home base and needing the one winter mooring we have here, Thelma had some final restoration work completed and was adopted out to Matt Price a skilled wooden boat builder in Wellington, where she will race with two other vintage 2-1/2 raters.

Other voyages
Approximately 60,000 miles of yacht delivery work and racing. Have made ocean passages on 20 different vessels and raced on many others including; 85' Schooner, California to Hawaii and return, 54' Ketch, Palma, Majorca to New Orleans. Fleet Handicap winner, 1974 Round Britain two-handed race, First place, Auckland two-handed series.

Home base
New Zealand. Citizens of New Zealand, Canada (Larry) and America (Lin).

Books by Lin and Larry Pardey Videos by Lin and Larry Pardey
Storm Tactics Handbook Cruising, hints for improving your boat
Cruising in Seraffyn Voyaging, upgrading your cruising boat
Seraffyn's European Adventure The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew
Seraffyn's Mediterranean Adventure Cruising Coral Seas
Seraffyn's Oriental Adventure Storm Tactics Video
The Self-sufficient Sailor
The Capable Cruiser DVDs by Lin and Larry Pardey
The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew Storm Tactics
Details of Classic Boat Construction - The Hull Get Ready to Cruise
Cost Conscious Cruiser Get Ready to Cross Oceans
Cruising Has No Limits

Articles by Lin and Larry have appeared in
Sail Magazine, Cruising World, Woodenboat, Good Old Boat, Classic Boat UK, Yachting Monthly UK, Practical Boat Owner UK, South African Yachting, Cruising Helmsman - Australia, Australian Boating, Amateur Boatbuilder - Australia, Das Boot - Germany, Brazilian Sailing, Yacht - Germany, New Zealand Yachting, Sea Spray New Zealand. Pacific Yachting , Canada

Mauritanian Legion of Honour, as Captain of first American team to sail across the Sahara Desert in a land yacht,1966.
Cruising Sailors to contribute most to the sport of Sailing - voted by readers of Sail Magazine 1990.
International Oceanic Award - presented by Royal Institute of Navigation sponsored by Little Ship Club 1996 - in recognition of Larry's voyaging using traditional methods of navigation.
Ocean Cruising Club Award - for contributions to Seamanship for small boat sailing. Presented to Lin Pardey 1996.
Geoff Pac Memorial Award- to both Lin and Larry for fostering and encouraging ocean cruising in small yachts
Cruising World Hall of Fame-2000
Ocean Cruising Club Merit Award -To Lin and Larry for inspiring voyages including a west-about rounding of Cape Horn
Seven Seas Cruising Club Service Award - To Lin and Larry for their lifetime voyaging achievements 2004

Records-Smallest boat to have circumnavigated contrary to the prevailing winds around all the great southern capes. Only couple to have circumnavigated both east-about and west about on boats they built them selves, using traditional means of navigation and having no engine nor sponsorship.

Lin and Larry maintain a newsletter and share cruising tips at:


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I have read every book in the Serrafyn series at least 4 times.
Amazon Customer
I have read the Lin Pardey's other books and enjoyed the tales of their travels and sailing adventures.
Robin Churchill
Lin and Larry are the perfect team for an adventure of a lifetime and live a very romantic life.
Rebecca of Amazon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G Hamlin on April 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Book Review - Bull Canyon: A Boat Builder, A Writer and other Wildlife
by Lin Pardey

In a foreword to her new book -- Bull Canyon: A Boat Builder, A Writer and other Wildlife - Lin Pardey asks fans of her sailing adventures aboard Seraffyn to hang in with her through this transition book, the story of Lin and husband Larry's four years ashore during construction of a new boat -- Taleisin. Her fans should not be worried. These four years in an out-of-the way canyon in California, immersed in the strange culture of rural iconoclasts, trying to do their own thing, their own way, for as little money as possible, is as much an adventure as any they have had in foreign waters.

And, Lin and Larry, endeavoring to build a new boat from scratch and doing it the hard way - far from boatyards, without even such fundamentals as mail, phone and electricity and in the face of adversities like flood, fire, and packrats - in their own fashion fit right in. A cruiser's openness to the other ways people choose to live, their readiness to band together to help neighbors in need, their gameness to throw together food and music to celebrate, well, just about anything, their focus on getting done what needs to be done, makes them good neighbors in the unusual community of Bull Canyon.

But this is a transition time for Lin and Larry in more ways than one. In addition to stepping up from a smaller boat to a larger one, it is a time set aside for Lin to step up to challenges she has set herself as a writer. Her goal is to actually support them with her craft while Larry exercises his in the boat shed. Lin explores those challenges - the doubts, the thrills, the ego bruises - with great honesty.
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Format: Hardcover
Lin was a Southern Californian girl who was swept up in the dreams of the freedom she'd have when she was old enough to leave home. When she finally did leave, it was one of those `don't let the door hit you on the way out' moments, but she was determined to make her way in life on her own terms. Working as a "glorified accounting clerk" and taking on other low level jobs to maintain that hard won freedom gave her a good dose of reality. It was a busy life, but there was no dreaming to be done until a twenty-six-year old Canadian unexpectedly waltzed into her life regaling her with tales of cruising around the world on a sailboat he was making. A whirlwind courtship and the lure of the high seas was the elusive dream she had been searching for. Lin had met Larry Pardey and with the announcement to her family that "I'm going to grab hold of my own life with this Canadian yacht skipper and see the whole world full-time, not just on two-week vacations," she was on her way.

They worked hard building the twenty-four foot "Seraffyn," the boat that would cement their lives together. "She'll take care of us if we build her tight," Larry would tell Lin. Marriage vows, with the word `obey' included, sent them on their way. The "Seraffyn" would prove to be their home for eleven adventurous years, years in which Lin would begin writing about their lives as they sailed the world. Toward the end of their time with the "Seraffyn," during a gale south of the Aleutian Islands, Larry began to dream of another boat, an interlude in which the "Taleisin" would be born. Larry's "dreaming and scheming" soon brought them to Bull Canyon where they set up shop in a little stone cottage Old Man Payonessa had built many years ago.

The cottage was not silent nor were they alone in the beginning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chautauqua on August 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As the cover suggests, this is not another sailing adventure but a more intimate look at the human side of creating a life worth living. Lin and Larry have spent many years informing blue water cruisers, myself included, of the joys and "how to's" of their life on the oceans of the world. Lin has now written about the personal side of their lives at a point of transition. This is the very stuff of their lives, the decision making, the coping with challenges ashore in a small canyon in Southern California as they build their very special yacht by hand. Although "Bull Canyon" is basically a true autobiographical journey, it reads as a novel with a story line and characters as well.

Lin and Larry's ability to achieve what they have in life so far, shines through in the relationship they have crafted along with their boat and books. I commend Lin on her ability to capture and tell this compelling story with skill and honesty, making their relationship to each other so transparent. I also commend Larry for letting her tell this story as her own, as a separate viewpoint within a strong couple. Every couple who wants to accomplish anything together could gain tremendous insight from this enjoyable read. I could not put it down. Bravo.

Cris Field Todd
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SJM (aka Cookie's Mom) on October 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Bull Canyon was a terrific read. This is a true story, yet it reads like the best of fiction. I learned a little about boat building, life in a secluded canyon without the amenities I take for granted, and what it meant to this couple to have the freedom to set sail to any destination of their choosing. What I enjoyed most about this story was the sense of adventure, bravery and optimism it portrayed.

Lin and Larry faced some significant challenges throughout the period of time this story is based on, yet they rose to meet them expertly each time. There are some great lessons within, and reminders of what good living is all about. Without meaning to, I think, Lin and Larry provide a kind of blueprint, much like the one Larry relied on to build their boat, for living a happy and fulfilling life.

Please note: a version of this review originally appeared on my blog on October 13, 2011, along with an interview with the author Lin Pardey.
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