Coastal Boating, Sailing, Cruising, Yachting, Racing, Coastal, Sailboat, Yacht, Fleet, Club, Regatta, Commodore, One design, Social, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Island, Seamanship, NE waters, NOAA, NWS



Facing Fear

By Lisa Blair
Published in soft cover by Australian Geographic, Sydney, 2020
334 pages 15.5mm x 23.5mm, with 16 pages in full colour

Lisa Blair was the first woman to solo circumnavigate Antarctica. Her goal was to do so nonstop and unassisted, but that was not to be. A dismasting forced her to jury rig a mast and stop in South Africa for repairs.

I was riveted from the first sentence, which begins with the dismasting event in a violent storm with 8 metre seas. She had me there on deck with her, spiralling into hypothermia as wave after wave crashed over her while she tried to free the rigging wires. It was a survival story, 1000 miles from land in freezing conditions, knowing that her only chance to save herself and her boat was to face her paralyzing fear.

The book then takes us to the story of how she ended up going from a bullied child with a learning disability similar to dyslexia to an extreme solo sailor. Serendipity started her off when a crewmember on a friend’s boat had to return home and she filled in for three months. She was hooked.

Lisa began dreaming of solo sailing. To gain experience in a hurry, she signed up for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. When she learned it would cost £40,000, she almost gave up. With encouragement from her mother, she started fund raising in a multitude of ways and managed to raise half the money prior to the mandatory training interval. She was despondent, but again her mother stepped in and convinced her to at least complete the training. She was so enthusiastic and competent, that other crew members started donating to her cause. She raised enough to complete the race; her yacht won 12 of the 15 legs – more consecutive wins than any ever. She hadn’t sailed across an ocean 12 months before, now she had sailed around the world. Suddenly, the challenge of ‘what next?’ seemed daunting.

She wanted to enter solo races but securing sponsorship and a boat proved almost impossible. So, she completed her commercial skipper’s license and started driving charters in the Whitsundays. Somehow, things always fell into place unexpectedly for Lisa. A couple lent her the money to buy a boat, she secured sponsors for the Sydney to Hobart as a trial run, and soon after Climate Action Now set off for the Antarctic challenge. The rest makes clear how well prepared one has to be to sail solo in the Southern Ocean.

Lisa’s writing style is easy to read even for people without bluewater experience. The critical parts where Lisa has to free the mast as it’s sawing the boat in half reads like a super-fast-paced thriller. There’s enough detail to be informative yet told in a way that’s engrossing. Her decision-making processes and what influenced them is a great read. There’s much more, including an encounter with a ship, but I won’t give it away. It’s a story of courage, endurance, resilience and perseverance. I thoroughly enjoyed Facing Fear and am in awe of and full of admiration for this 5’2” sailing dynamo, Lisa Blair.


Amazon US

Amazon UK




(Please disable your adblocker for better viewing)

Joy of sailingCoastal Boating (Reg. in Ireland No. 443222) is a division of Knowledge Clinic Ltd.
Port Aleria, Rosnakilly, Kilmeena, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland - USA: PO Box 726, Mahwah, NJ 07430
All content on this site is subject to Copyright© - All rights reserved.
Contact us - Advertising - Privacy - Terms & Conditions - Copyright & Trademark - Webmaster