A circumnavigator's favorite ocean films
Ocean Navigator|January- February 2021
A still from the documentary Maiden, which tells the story of the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989-90.
Ellen Massey Leonard

While essentially the entire world was on lockdown and almost all borders closed, sailors suddenly found themselves unable to sail. Some cruisers were stuck aboard their boats, forbidden to move and, in some cases, even forbidden to go for a swim over the side.

Quite a few scrambled to get out of the tropics before hurricane season arrived, and some made unexpectedly long passages as they were turned away from place after place. Still, others were ashore when the virus struck and were unable to return to their boats.

I found myself ashore and so, like so many people, I escaped to my happy place — the ocean — virtually. In other words, I watched a number of sailing and ocean films. Here’s a list of my favorites:

1. Seven Worlds, One Planet: Topping the list is the first in the recent BBC series, Seven Worlds, One Planet. Released last fall, the seven-part documentary features one continent in each feature-length episode. The first one covers Antarctica, which really means it covers the abundant life of the Southern Ocean surrounding the frozen continent. Narrated by the illustrious David Attenborough, Antarctica opens with an absolutely incredible moment: the birth of a Weddell seal on the Ross Ice Shelf off McMurdo Station. The stunning footage just continues from there: leopard seals and orcas hunting gentoo penguins, humpback whales bubble-net feeding, elephant seals defending their harems, baby albatross struggling for survival in a gale.

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