Patrick Childress, Sailor Extraordinaire

Patrick Childress introduced PS readers to an ascender that allows you to go aloft alone with minimal effort (see “Getting to the Top,” PS October 2014).

Patrick Childress taught us a lot. He taught us how to climb our mast alone, safely and easily. He gave us step-by-step instructions to repair and paint a leaky water tank without harmful poisons or paints, and how to build a boat security system for a few bucks. He showed us how to deal with a dismasting at sea, and how to rebuild the rig from chainplate to masthead so that it would never happen again. And that is just scratching the surface of Childress’ contributions to this publication, and a bare smidgen of the practical, cheap solutions that he’s shared with the cruising community.

His work has appeared in nearly every major US sailing publication and more recently reached a worldwide audience through the blogs, vlogs, and YouTube channel that documented he and his wife Rebecca Childress’ circumnavigation. And through it all, he was a low-key, just-the-facts dude, focused on getting the right message out—even if it meant running contrary to conventional wisdom, which it often did.

Patrick grew up in Miami and was soon drawn to the sea. In 1980, he set out on one of the most improbable small-boat voyages in cruising lore—a circumnavigation in a 27-foot Catalina Juggernaut that he’d upgraded significantly for the voyage. Three years later, he returned and began working toward his next big adventure.

Starting a home repair business in Rhode Island and sailing boats back and forth to the Caribbean, he and Rebecca soon earned enough freedom chips to embark on his second trip around the world with Rebecca on one of the most prudently outfitted Valiant 40s at sea today, Brick House.

On June 8, Childress died in Cape Town, South Africa of complications from COVID-19. He was 69. We will miss his wit, wisdom, and courage, though are comforted that his work lives on in this magazine, on the Web, and in the stories of friends and family who were fortunate to cross his path. To find out more about Patrick’s life and work, you can visit is blog