Middletown, R.I. ― For Cruising World Deputy Editor Elaine Lembo, living her brand took on new meaning this summer when she set sail on a 3,200-nautical-mile voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. For 21 straight days, she lived aboard the Swan 57 Flyer on her first trans-Atlantic journey‚ from Newport, Rhode Island, to Port du Crouesty in Brittany, France. In her own words, Lembo — who celebrates her 16th anniversary as a Cruising World editor this year — tells of her transformational adventure and fulfilling a lifelong dream.


In the words of Elaine Lembo:


Enough, I said. I’ve had enough.


Enough of everyone else’s tales of high seas, big winds and scenic landfalls. Enough of staring out my kitchen window, listening to the voice of my other half, professional skipper Rick Martell, relay coordinates via satellite phone of yet another midocean location on yet another sailboat delivery. And enough of cubicle world and its ceaseless paperwork. Was I once a sailor and reporter? Do I still remember how to be both?


When the stars aligned and the green light from my managers at Cruising World came through, I vowed I wasn’t going to waste another precious minute of my life raising those nagging questions again.


Instead, I immediately accepted an invitation to join Rick and crew aboard the Swan 57 Flyer ─ the Mercedes Benz of sailboats ─ on a 3,200-nautical-mile voyage from Newport, Rhode Island, to the Port du Crouesty in Brittany, France. The single planned stop on this June 2014 passage was midocean, at Horta, Faial, in the Azores islands, a landfall that loomed large and long on my Life List.


Then I got busy with the scores of details associated with such an adventure. I upgraded foul-weather gear and boots, borrowed a harness and tether, wrote to tourism officials in the Azores, sent out invitations to Cruising World clients to let me borrow and try out gear (including satellite-based communications devices), planned out a few months’ worth of magazine sections, and started the blog, Flyer Transatlantic.


In no time our departure was upon us, and for the next 21 days I stood watch, cooked, cleaned, did chores on deck and below, and scanned the horizon. I monitored the radar, and used navigation software to analyze course, bearing, and cross-track error. I took notes, shot photos, and filed blogs that my Cruising World cohorts, Associate Editor Jen Brett and Digital Editor Eleanor Lawson, posted and promoted.


To say I loved it all is oversimplifying. It doesn’t do justice to such a constantly changing and evolving and, ultimately, transformational experience.


Now back home — and yes, a desk jockey again — I’m frequently asked five questions.

  1. Was I scared?
    Cautious is more accurate. I’m lucky, I don’t get seasick, but nobody should set off into the North Atlantic Ocean without a dose of humility and smarts. With such a well-equipped and seaworthy boat, an excellent, experienced captain, and a great crew, I wagered that we’d be fine. Also once I read the cruising guides, I realized that we were doing this passage at an appropriate time of the year for such a voyage. Knowledge is power, indeed!
  2. Was I bored?
    Never. Absolutely not.
  3. The low point?
    The night I left the dishes out to dry, and in a big wave, the boat heeled at a steep angle, and they shattered all over the salon sole. Dumb, dumb, dumb. That’ll never happen again.
  4. The high point?
    Too numerous to list in this space.
  5. Would I do it again?
    Like all my Bonnier colleagues ─ flying planes, scuba diving with sharks, surf-casting for the big one, whipping up soufflés in a test kitchen and, yes, exploring the planet under sail ─ the answer is evident.

Read more about my voyage at my blog cruisingworld.com/blogs/flyer-transatlantic. Stay tuned for a feature story about the trip that will appear in an upcoming issue of Cruising World.