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Alliance man prepares to sail around the world in 37-foot boat



Published: Sat, September 25, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



Larry Hillier and his wife, Patti, will follow their dreams together, yet apart.

By JULIE A. WAGNER

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

ALLIANCE -- Adventure seems to be in the blood of Larry and Patti Hillier of Alliance.

In their 28 years of marriage, the couple have pedaled 2,200 miles across the United States, flown airplanes and sailed around Hawaii and Lake Superior.

Their latest adventures begin this fall as Larry, 64, prepares for a four-year, 28,000-mile trip around the world in a 37-foot sailboat. Meanwhile, Patti, 49, will be at home in their bungalow working on the books she's been wanting to write, when she's not flying to various ports around the world to join her husband for parts of his trip.

"She's doing her dream, while I'm doing my dream," Larry said, "We're sharing our dreams together."

Like their other adventures, the Hilliers have thought about the boat trip for some time. They'd done research and mapped out a path. But, said Patti, life would get in the way and they would put the plans in a drawer. They began seriously preparing for the trip about March or April, she said.

Sold house for boat

They sold their house and 14.5 acres near Beloit to help pay the $90,000 for the 1984 Pacific Seacraft sailboat. While Larry is gone, Patti will live in the Alliance bungalow they had used as a rental property.

Larry studied advanced sailing with instructor Brad Smith of Carolina Winds in North Carolina. Larry bought the boat in North Carolina. It will be called Kokopelli, after a humpbacked flute player with wild hair who is part of American Indian lore. They saw his image several times in the Southwest on their cycling trip.

The boat sleeps six, has a kitchen, a bathroom and such amenities as a compact disc player. It has a 32-horsepower diesel engine, five batteries to power equipment, safety systems, radios, lights, a Global Positioning System and an automatic pilot. They've been stocking up on supplies at West Marine in Boardman, under the guidance of manager Christine Wagner and assistant manager Denny Eddinger.

His itinerary

Larry plans to do final preparations on the boat in Washington, N.C., and leave in a few months. He will go to the Caribbean, where he will stay a few more months, before officially launching from Antigua and heading south around the horn of South America. He'll stop at Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean then head over to New Zealand and Australia. Larry will sail across the Indian Ocean to the Middle East before going through the Suez Canal. The final leg will be across the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and back to North Carolina. The trip can be done in 20 months, he said, but he plans to take it slow, seeing the sights and avoiding bad weather.

Patti, other family members and friends will join him by flying to the ports where he'll stop. Patti said she is interested in seeing Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand. Her father, Edward Edling, 75, of Salem, plans to meet with Larry in Antigua.

As for the danger, the Hilliers adopted the same attitude they had for the cross-country trip. "It could happen here [at home]. It could happen there [during the trip]."

Painful losses

The Hilliers' long cycling trip wasn't only an adventure; it was also therapy. Larry said. The couple have lost three of their five children: Two sons were killed in car accidents four weeks apart, and a baby daughter died of crib death. They have two grown children, one in Youngstown, and the other in California.

There was so much to take care of after their children's deaths.

"We never really took time to grieve," Larry said. "So [on the cycling trip] we laughed in the desert, and cried in the mountains."




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