Small in stature, big on heart, would be a fitting way to describe Galia Moss, the Mexican sailor currently on a solo east to west circumnavigation of Latin America—Mexico to Mexico—to be exact.
The sailor stopped over in St. Maarten on November 21st for rest, repairs to the boom of her brand new RM Yachts 10.6 metre (35ft) El Mas Mejor (The Very Best) and replacement of a water pump. It was her first stop since departing Xcaret, Cancun, on November 6th 2012 and a bumpy, sleep-deprived fifteen days in the Caribbean Sea that she admits “wasn’t fun.”
Galia, 38, is on a sponsored project to provide education for Mexican children and help rebuild schools. Sponsors Fundacion ARS, HSBC, and Lazos under the umbrella of Association Solo Levanta La Mano are financing a year of education for a child. For each five nautical miles sailed by Galia one child is sponsored, and for 1,813 miles sailed a school is rebuilt. The aim of the voyage is to sponsor a year of education each for 14, 500 children and build eight schools.
Her voyage will clock up 14,500 nautical miles with 14 visits to ports and marinas during 170 days of solo sailing. She expects to finish in May 2013. Along the way she is promoting Mexico and her eleven sponsors in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and the Galapagos. At each port of call she organizes press conferences at the embassies and gives talks.
“Working on the boat and working on land. It’s not a vacation,” she says ruefully.
Galia has something of a reputation among her sponsors for reliability and results. This is now her third solo project, the previous two linked to achieving the building of 644 homes for low income Mexican families and nutritional packages for 708 children to last two-and-a-half years.
Her sailing career began at 24-years-old when she put a promising future as a classical musician on hold to take part in a tall ship training program. She was also inspired by the American sailor Tania Aebi’s around the world voyage and account of her experience in the book ‘Maiden Voyage.’
Seven years later Galia became the first Latin American woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo and when she completes the circumnavigation of Latin America next year she’ll be the first Mexican woman to do so single handed. Racing in the Mediterranean on Mini Transat boats and J24s on the lakes helped hone her skills and confidence for solo sailing though she concedes racing wasn’t for her.
“I don’t consider myself a racing person but I did learn a lot,” she recalls.
El Mas Mejor is a delight to behold; apparently easy to sail with a design that has lots of space and headroom below deck and it’s equipped with all the latest gadgetry. The addition of the cabin’s large jet-style windows gives 360 degree visibility.
“She has twin keels and a rudder and has more of a flat bottom,” Galia explains. “It’s a plywood and epoxy construction with a Kevlar finish so she’s very strong and stable for going south. Not very fast up wind but she’s fast on reaches.”
During lonely rough passages Galia reminds herself that every mile sailed is for a good cause.
“Before I left, the foundation Lazos gave me a bag of 600 letters to read from children all over Mexico. That helps so much to keep you going. It’s amazing that so many kids have not even seen an ocean.”