“The waves worked the wreck back and forth”
, says Nancy. “It screamed when it was breaking apart”
. From the beach of a seemingly uninhabited Atoll island, the Griffiths looked on as their beloved boat, and their home for years, was destroyed on the reef in front of them. “It was totally devastating to see it disintegrate before our very eyes. When it actually failed to look like a real boat, there was a finality to that moment. Here we were, on a desert island”
Bob and Nancy had embarked on one of their many sailing adventures, when they ran into trouble in French Polynesia. Ever cool-headed, the pair simply set to work. A shelter was built, boat parts were salvaged, and Nancy’s young son, Reid, even completed his school work. “He would sit on the vertebrae of a whale and it would make the perfect seat for him to do his homework”
. They spent almost a year on that island, retrieving their belongings from the bottom of the ocean and repairing their waterlogged engine. “It’s like poetry”
, says Nancy of her time there. “Life is reduced to its essentials but there’s enough of everything”
. After being arrested on the island on suspicion of espionage, they were released and eventually made it to New Zealand, where they immediately began building a new boat.
The couple thrived on the freedom of life at sea. “We never had the threat of having to jump to the requirements of a landlord or a boss”
. They circumnavigated the world three times, sailed uncharted waters, and repeated Captain Cook's incredible adventures in Antarctica and Hawaii, breaking records and earning their keep as filmmakers as they went. Nancy remembers the “fantastic following seas”
that led them home to New Zealand after their sailing triumph around the horn, and “the sensation of being right on top of a swell, right on top of the world!”
However, freedom came at a price. Nancy and Bob spent months at a time away from their young children, causing tension between Nancy and her mother, who was concerned about the safety of life at sea. But it was on land that the real tragedy struck. When the family anchored in the bay of an uninhabited valley, Reid and another crew member went hunting for fresh meat. But Reid never returned; three days after they began searching, the family found him at the bottom of a fifty foot drop. “You never get over it. Strange thing to say but he’s a far greater loss to me than Bob”
, says a tearful Nancy. Years after, Bob too would die on a voyage, one he had undertaken without his family. Nancy saw that her husband was buried at sea, where he is “rocked in the cradle of the deep”
An awe-inspiring first-hand account of an extraordinary family. Nancy’s moving stories are brought to life by the beautiful original footage she and Bob captured over a lifetime on the ocean.