Bull Canyon: A Boatbuilder, a Writer and other Wildlife
by Lin Pardey



Paradise Cay Publications, 2011. ISBN 978-1-929-21467-9.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 12/28/2012

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Travel/Adventure

In 1980, Lin Pardey and her husband Larry moved to a bluff above El Toro Canyon that they called Bull Canyon. Living in a decades-old stone cabin with no plumbing or electricity they created a special niche for themselves for the three years it took them to build their boat, the Taleisin.

This book is a love story, and homage, not only their relationship, but also to their dream of creating a unique life for themselves. Bull Canyon was no Eden. Yet in their time there they created a nest, made friends, adopted pets, came to some decisions for themselves about having children and what they wanted their future to be like. The story, romantic and down to earth, brings the reader into their charmed circle and by being drawn in, we are also part of their day to day existence in the lightly-populated canyon.

The first projects for Larry were to get a boat shed built and start stockpiling the necessary equipment, tools and hardwood for the Taleisin. Pictures throughout the book show glimpses of the boat building project and a fun look at the young couple with their hearts in their eyes. Lin tackles the cottage, gardens, and writing projects that will fund the boat-building. Together 24-7, yet each with their own tasks, they hone their boat-building and writing talents side by side.

They find being good neighbors often involves derailing their own plans in order to agitate for phone service and, eventually, even electrical services for the isolated canyon, but the enrichment of friendships, music and good food brings rewards as well.

Weather throws tempestuous fits here as well. Heavy winds and rain pummel the hillsides, causing mudflow and road washouts galore, although it does help with the dwindling waters of Lake Elsinore below. Still, they don't lose sight of their dreams. Memories of eleven years of sailing together aboard the Seraffyn, their first cruising adventure of some 47,000 miles, gives them the inner strength and impetus to keep working throughout it all.

Pardey's writing is delightful, descriptive, heart-felt and openly honest. She mulls over the decision that she and Larry made to not to have children. A choice often difficult and contradictory, she and her husband made the determination as their years together flowed, and with a comfortable covenant. Pardey is frank about her frustrations with canyon living, but also eagerly shares the delights that abound in their slice of the world. Carefully watering stately Eucalyptus and encouraging flowers and vegetables make her feel as if she is paying gentle tribute to the original builder of the cottage, a man she sees as a visionary. Watching the stately near-30-foot sailboat take shape and form under their dedicated hands, the Pardeys have driven themselves with their quest for adventure and found it to be good. In sharing this intimate story with her readers, Pardey has allowed us to lift our faces to the ocean's winds and sail off into the sunset with them.

Read an excerpt from this book.


The Pardeys, as husband and wife and individually have been writing about sailing for over 30 years. Lin Pardey was born 1944, in Detroit, Michigan. Raised in Los Angeles County, she studied accounting and music. She figures she has logged 198,000 sea miles. More information about Lin can be found on her website.

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