Jean-du-Sud and the Magick-Byrd


After a few cruises between Québec and the West Indies, then a sail to Europe, I felt the need for a long voyage around the Great Capes, alone aboard my Alberg 30 Jean-du-Sud.  I knew its hull was strong and seaworthy, but it would need a stronger mast and rigging, new sails, self-steering...

I had returned almost penniless from a summer cruise with my daughters in the Stockholm Archipelago and found work in a yard in Brittany. Confident this axiom would verify: If you are deeply convinced that you must do something, it becomes possible, I started to prepare Jean-du-Sud for a long voyage in the Southern Ocean. Having previously worked in cinema, I would shoot film as I sailed.

I attempted to do my share most efficiently.  The other share, I entrusted to a little Byrd woven from a Magick coconut palm, which was hanging from the handrail in my boat. Since we had been sailing together, the performance of my Magick-Byrd had been more than adequate, I had never run out of the essential...

Three years later, I sailed from Saint-Malo in France, headed for the Gulf of St. Lawrence the other way around the world, via the Southern Ocean.  I rounded Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin, but was capsized and dismasted in the Pacific and I landed at Chatham Islands under jury rig.  I spliced and re-stepped the mast, sailed around Cape Horn, and landed in Gaspé after 28 200 miles in 282 sailing days.

I recount this leap of faith in Jean-du-Sud et l’Oizo-Magick, a book published in Québec in 1988, then in France in 1996, now out of print.  Latest contribution from the Magick-Byrd, it is translated in English 30 years later and published by Annapolis-based 59 North Sailing.

Yves Gélinas

Click to download a podcast of the book read by the author

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