a royal pain. I put my desktop easel on the
bow, and we wind up with wet paintings
all over the saloon. But we don’t care.”
To those whose imagination draws
them to bluewater voyaging and the live-
aboard lifestyle, BoatU.S. members Tom
and Nancy Zydler are enduring stars on
the scene. Since the 1970s, their global adventures, whether in
small sailboats or as crew on expedition-style yachts, are well
chronicled in articles (written and photographed by Tom) and
photography in magazines, as well as in two highly esteemed
cruising guides (one on Panama, another on cruising the
This cruising couple is well-rounded: Both licensed captains,
Nancy grew up sailing in Savannah, Georgia, then studied art at
the University of Georgia; while Polish-born Tom is a graduate of the Szkola Morska maritime academy in Poland with
a master’s degree in English literature. The Zydlers exercise
their seamanship skills while satisfying their creative hunger
by retracing the routes of artists they admire, heading out
from South Carolina in May and returning stateside in fall.
Cold-water destinations like Labrador and Greenland drew
19th century painters Frederic Edwin Church and William
Bradford, as well as the early 20th century painter, sailor, and
author Rockwell Kent.
“It took us three tries to get to Karrat Island, 300 miles north
of the Arctic Circle on Greenland’s west coast,” Nancy says.
“Kent painted in this area for two years and wrote of the unsur-
passed beauty of Karrat. In summer 2016 Tom and I got there.
We drifted in because there was brash ice. I painted while we
were drifting. We’d turned the engine off, there were icebergs
everywhere, making all these cracking and booming sounds. It
was like being in a wonderland.”
There’s no end in sight to Zydler’s personal take on plein air
painting: Upcoming voyages she and Tom embark on will allow
her to work on a seabird series and one of the barrier islands off
the U.S. southeast coast. She’s dedicated to making a statement
beyond creativity and art, part of which can be found at Zydler
Fine Art ( zydler.com).
“While the ephemeral properties and myriad colors present
so many painting challenges, I also hope to heighten awareness.
Ice is melting at extraordinary rates, and this melting just feeds
more melting. These creations from the earth’s past may forever
vanish as our climate changes.” — ELAINE LEMBO
IT WORKS WITH SAILING SO WELL. I PUT MY
DESKTOP EASEL ON THE BOW, AND WE WIND
UP WITH WET PAINTINGS ALL OVER THE
SALOON. BUT WE DON’T CARE
then paints to