"Jack of many trades, master of some!"
Sarah may be a writer, speaker and teacher, but that hasn’t always been the case.
Sarah Pye was born on a tiny British outpost on the Mediterranean Ocean called Gibraltar on which barbary apes, Catalan fishermen, and military expats carve an existence on the side of a rock.
The summers of her first ten years were spent plying the waters of the Norfolk Broads aboard a classic clinker-built wooden boat in true Swallows and Amazon’s style.
When she reached my second decade, rivers were replaced by ocean, and her beloved wooden boat swapped for a fiberglass counterpart. When she was 13, (and her brother 11), Sarah's teacher parents, who were disillusioned with the straight jacket of the British education system, threw caution to the wind and moved their family onto a 30ft ketch. The Mediterranean was calling again.
But wanderlust is never quiet.
In 1980, the Atlantic beckoned. Sarah held night watches, read books, trimmed sails, hunkered down in ranging storms, and raced on deck with soap in her hair at the hint of rain. Dropping anchor by a white coral beach to the sound of a steel drum in Antigua, after 27 days at sea, was like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole.
Eventually, like Storm Boy, she felt the pull of education and left her floating Caribbean home for college in the town known for other women who didn’t fit into society – Salem Massachusetts, later finishing her hospitality management degree in California.
But azure waters and island life still tugged at Sarah's core. Together with her American husband, she moved to Hawaii and back to an ocean life working with humpback whales.
However she had not yet finished her westward migration.
In 1994, Sarah and her husband were accepted as Australian immigrants and settled in the Whitsunday Islands, where they designed and built a business called Ocean Rafting. The shallow waters of Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach were her office until her next adventure of motherhood.
These were ‘the best of times… the worst of times’. In 2001, Ocean Rafting was awarded the Queensland Tourism Award for the Best Adventure Tour in the state, but Sarah's marriage was floundering. By the time it finally shattered, she had moved to the Sunshine Coast. A new adventure as a single parent began.
Sarah enrolled in her Master of Communication degree and every school holiday of her daughter’s young life, they hitched up their camper trailer and explored her country. While she had fun, Sarah rated tourism products for their family suitability and wrote the guidebook Kids Welcome to Queensland which was published in 2009, the same year she was awarded her degree. For the resulting travel business, Sarah was named Sunshine Coast Small Business Woman of the Year in 2010.
The adventures have continued, and Sarah's daughter Amber has been at her side through Vietnam, Fiji, Vanuatu and then, in 2012, Borneo. It was there they met Dr Wong Siew Te and Sarah fell in love with sun bears.
Little did Sarah know how profoundly she was trading the ocean for the land. Saving Sun Bears is the result, and a series of children’s books about Borneo’s wildlife are in the pipeline. The adventures continue, and in 2018 Sarah walked 800km across Spain. her next plan is back to the water, kayaking down the Murray River in 2022. "Maybe one day," Sarah says, "I will return to the ocean to tell the tale of Sailor Sarah!"
Dame Judy Dench
Hear Wong's story about Dame Judy Dench and how she reacted when asked to help release 3 bears back into the jungle. Her response to the request might surprise you.
The Covid Impact
Find out what Wong and his team did to keep the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre afloat when Covid 19 hit, and how you can become part of the solution by spreading the word.
New Children's Books
Join Wong and Sarah as they discuss plans for the creation and release of childrens' books aimed at building knowledge of the environment and ecosystems through tapping into their natural curiosity.
Find out what Wong and Sarah's thoughts are on the future of the Sun Bears, the Conservation Centre and our beautiful blue planet.
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