Category: Blog

20 Mar

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Manry at Sea—In the Wake of a Dream


RM slides 18-brereton 06 cleaned_edited 1200wide

RM slides 18-brereton 06 cleaned_edited 1200wide

Interview with Steve Wystrach about the upcoming feature documentary called Manry at Sea—In the Wake of a Dream

For more information on the film and to watch the trailer, click here.

1. How did you come across the Robert Manry archives?

The seeds of the Robert Manry Project sprouted in 1996 while I was preparing for a voyage from Southern California to Hawaii. I’ve been an avid sailor most of my adult life, with a special love of bluewater passagemaking. During that period, I reread many of my books about solo sailors and small boat voyages.

Since I was in the process of outfitting my boat, I had a particular interest in sections about gear and provisioning. One of the most detailed chapters on the subject is “Comments for Sailors,” in Manry’s 1966 book, Tinkerbelle. His book was exciting and inspirational the first time I read it, and remains one of the best sea stories in my library.

I noticed in Manry’s equipment list that he carried a 16mm movie camera. I simply asked the question, “Where is the film?” That set off a case of amateur sleuthing, and in the end (after two years), I located Robert’s brother John, in Alberta, Canada, who told me, “Yes, it’s all in a box in my garage. I was afraid I might have to toss it in the trash one of these years during Spring cleaning.”

2. Have you always worked in the film industry?

I’ve been a filmmaker since high school, and spent my professional career as a film editor and archivist. I manage the classic TV archive for the US Borax 20-Mule Team show, Death Valley Days (1952-1970), and just completed the restoration of all 452 episodes for the Library of Congress. It’s currently playing on the STARZ Western channel, and Grit TV.

3. Are you also a sailor or adventurer?

Besides sailing, my other passion is making long-distance walks on the vast network of European trails, particularly in France. I’m leaving in April for a 5-week trek heading south from Reims. I walk solo, and carry an ultralight backpack, and usually stay in bed and breakfasts, or hostels. It’s a fabulous way to see a country. I’ve also walked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in Spain three times. I have a website about those adventures at where there’s a short video about some of the trails I’ve walked.

4. What have you learned about Manry during your research that has surprised you?

First, he was an ordinary “everyman,” who nurtured a very strong secret desire to fulfill his life long dream of sailing across an ocean, ever since he heard a lecture by a German adventurer, while growing up in India.

Second, was how the news media feeding frenzy began, and the audacious way that one journalist set out to track down Manry at sea, in order to scoop up the story before Tinkerbelle arrived in England. It’s a riveting twist to the story, and makes the film much more than just a “boy in a boat” adventure.

5. What impact do you think the voyage had on Manry’s relatively short life?

The main thing is that despite the limitations placed on him by culture, class, finances, and family, with humility, quiet tenacity and a joy for life, he made his dream come true. There’s a lot of depth to his biography that is not included in his book.

His fame gave him freedom to pursue other ventures. He had a successful tour of the lecture circuit, and made a second, year-long voyage, in a larger boat, circumnavigating the eastern United States with his family. I own that film, too, so who knows, maybe there will be a sequel. But, first things first.

6. What do you anticipate will the movie’s running time?

This is a full-length feature and runs a little over 90 minutes. We have a finished rough cut, which has been honored as an “Official Selection” at the American Documentary Film Festival, coming up in Palm Springs. In late March, I’ll be participating in a film pitch forum, competing for a grant that will go toward completing the film. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. There’s a second trailer rough cut you can watch here.

7. What is your expected movie release date?

If the financing and creative details like composing the score, animation, and a massive amount of film restoration all come together, we’re looking to complete by November – in time to submit to Sundance. ###

Read the eBook PDF of Tinkerbelle here.

Filed Under: Blog, General Posts

06 Mar


Southern Cross Update #7: Against All Odds


Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 9.10.04 AM

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 9.10.04 AMReceived a couple of slightly cryptic texts from Howard’s inReach two-way satellite communicator. They seem to suggest Howard has recovered Southern Cross and is trying to move quickly along to avoid incoming weather. More as we hear from him. Here are the messages:

“SC rescued epic to all who helped i am grateful at georgiana 150Miles to go to pt williams weather. coming race to safety”

“SC on board racing for safety against all odds sc survived against all odds we rescued joy gratitude to sailing friends.”

See track or map here:

01 Mar


Southern Cross Update #5: “Southern Cross” May Be Lost


Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 10.00.54 AM*Please note we did not get the following information directly from Howard, it was relayed to us through a third-party. As is always the case with these kinds of situations, new information may shed light on details we don’t yet know and some of what is reported might not be completely accurate. Naturally we will add an update as soon as we hear from Howard.

Apparently Howard lost Southern Cross on the rocks Sunday night after a 10-hour sailing stretch where he was, at some point, battling 9-foot seas and winds in excess of 40 knots. Howard tried desperately to save the boat but eventually had to ditch and spent an hour struggling to swim to shore.

As we understand it, his drysuit was damaged during the melee so after huddling for some time on the remote shore he started to feel hypothermia coming on, at which point he made the decision to alert the Chilean Armada of his situation.

The Armada dispatched a boat to effect a rescue and they were able to find Howard, who fired a flare to confirm his location, but the rough weather conditions and rocky bay forced them to stand-off several hours until daylight when they were able to bring him aboard.

We’re told Howard is roughed-up but not seriously injured. He is presently negotiating a way to return to retrieve Southern Cross. As I say, we’ll post and update as soon as we have it—hopefully we will hear directly from Howard. —Josh Colvin

16 Feb


Southern Cross Report #4


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Just received another sat-phone call from Howard. The first part was clear, but eventually we lost the signal and I didn’t get the last past of his message. What I gathered is that he’d had another challenging day, but he’s anchored finally in a nice, mostly windless cove now. As he was talking to me he was finishing dinner in his cockpit tent, with the back flap open watching penguins splashing around near shore.

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 1.30.15 PM

Howard said the trickiest part so far has been the changeable winds, which he says will be blowing steadily at 10 knots then rapidly begin gusting to forty knots or more. He’s had to scramble to quickly reduce sail. Another significant obstacle, though he says he’s learning how to deal with it, is heavy kelp. The other night he arrived in a less than ideal 100-yard wide anchorage and was forced to move locations 8 or 9 times throughout the night—part of which he spent sleeping in his drysuit after dragging anchor close near the lee shore. Sitting awake in the cockpit in the middle of the morning he had to don his headlamp and winch the anchor to break it free while cutting away at kelp with his Spyderco knife. When we spoke he said he’d only slept a single hour of the last 39.

He continues to rave about the boat and her performance. The photo above was sent to me by John Welsford. I believe it was taken from the deck of the S/V Novarra, a research vessel. I’m sure they were more than a little surprised to come across Howard and his SCAMP at the mouth of the Magdalena Channel and Strait of Magellan. Howard says they checked on him asking if he needed anything. He told them he did not. When he responded by asking the crew of the big steel-hulled boat whether they needed anything, everyone had a laugh. —Josh