Encinitas resident pens memoir about years sailing with family

The family's ship on laundry day.

An Encinitas resident has released a memoir about the adventures that she, her husband and three children had while sailing for three years during the 1970s.

“It was before ATMs, it was before GPS, cell phones, computers, all those wonderful electronics,” said Toni Larson, 80, who still travels for half the year in her RV when she’s not living in Encinitas with her son. “We pretty much sailed the same way that Columbus did. It was quite an adventure, and that’s what the book is about.”

Larson wrote the book, “Sailing Against the Wind,” in 1980.

Toni Larson on a contemporary RV trip to Canada.
Toni Larson on a contemporary RV trip to Canada.

“It was such an incredible experience and I didn’t want to lose that,” she said. “Friends had been encouraging me to write for some time, so I wrote it.”

But she added that it was hard to find a publisher who wanted to give an unknown author a chance.

“So it just sat on the shelf all these years,” Larson said.

Years later her children urged her to go the self-publishing route, especially her youngest son, who served in the Coast Guard and sailed around the world on his own,

“It was strictly because of his experience as a little 7-year-old on a sailboat that he decided to do that,” Larson said. “He was the one who encouraged me the most to do the self-publishing, so that’s what I did.”

The family’s travels included six weeks in Haiti, two or three months in Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and one winter on the Gulf Coast.

“Probably the most memorable of all of them was our time in Haiti,” Larson said. “It was quite eye-opening.”

Larson, who is originally from New Orleans, and her husband, from Minnesota, lived in a number of places over the years. The family also once operated two restaurants in Santa Barbara.

Her advice for anyone who wants to venture out on a similar sailing journey?

“Be totally aware of how your family gets along in close quarters,” Larson said. “You don’t lose your problems when you’re in a sailboat. Sometimes they’re even magnified. Being that close is also so positive for a family. Being open to that is very much a part of this, to work through things instead of letting them fester and learning how to live together.

“I do recommend it but it’s not for everybody,” she added. “That’s why I wrote the book.”

“Sailing Against the Wind” is available on