HOLD FAST: Best Sailing Movie Ever?

22 Nov


My last post about All is Lost, perhaps the worst sailing movie ever made, has garnered so much attention, I thought I better point to what I consider to be a most excellent sailing movie. True, Hold Fast, a documentary released in 2007, is not fiction, but it could be. It tells the story of a skinny white guy with dreads named Mike (aka Moxie Marlinspike) who cruises from Florida to the Dominican Republic with an all-girl crew of post-punk anarchists in a decrepit Pearson 30.

The crew of Pestilence seems to view cruising under sail almost as a political act. By reclaiming an ugly hulk of a fiberglass boat and rebuilding it with scavenged materials (they step the mast with the dinghy davit of an untended superyacht), then sailing away in it despite its manifest unseaworthiness, they are making a statement against our disposable consumer culture. What they teach us is that only by stepping outside this culture can we truly experience life.

They aspire to be “sailing maniacs,” and they succeed: “The maniacs are the ones who have accepted their insignificance to the vast expanses of unrelenting ocean and yet still sail on quixotically, because they are in love with the direct, unmediated experience they find out there.”

Pearson 30 hulk

The good ship Pestilence before her guerilla refit

All girl crew

The all-girl crew: Kirsten, Allie, and Lisa

Heading ashore

Heading ashore for fresh water


Moxie hunts for food

Direct deposit

Making a direct deposit


Reefing down


Dancing with a water spout

One of the best things about it is you can watch it for free online. Running length is a bit over an hour, but it’s time well spent:


  1. Bill


    Kirsten, Allie, and Lisa could probably be called crew in the beginning of the story but by the end they more accurately should be called Co skippers. The three women sail the boat off themselves after dropping Mike off in Haiti. They appear to have become accomplished sailors in their own right.

  2. B. James Parker

    Hi, I really just wanted to say how impressed and moved I was by the documentary. I am a Navy Sailor and a Small Craft guy, but you guys really take the gold for seamanship in my opinion. I hold no skill next to yours and its a dream of mine to refit and sail a small craft like yours. I may never get the chance, as I am a cog in the gear of a uniformed and regimented life, but watching you guys do it is refreshing and motivating. Thank you for living the life you do. =)

  3. Steve

    Saw it, loved it, and was thouroughly impressed with these girls…and you too Moxie. Thanks for the adventure.

  4. Drew Chandler

    Moxie, I’m a fan of Hold Fast. You and your friends taught me that it is possible to embark on a sailing adventure with limited resources and through resourcefulness be able to fulfill a dream of oceanic discovery. The documentary was remarkable. It is the best; that, I have seen of all the sailing videos on Youtube. And, I have watched a lot. I always love stories of determination and perseverance. Prevailing against all odds and succeeding in fulfilling your hearts desire. You brought the history of sailing and interlaced it throughout the video with the achievements of individuals that had the heart and passion of bringing the sport and lifestyle to those that had been deemed unworthy. This activity needs to be share with others willing to see its beauty regardless of they financial income. It should not be reserved for just the wealthy. Thanks for your story and inspiration to follow my dream of sailing to French Polynesia. Hope someday you will create a second documentary: Hold Fast, Tahiti.

  5. Andy Schell

    Hey Charlie,

    Great to bring this to attention! I know Mike – ‘Moxie’ – well. He worked with me as a skipper the first year I did Broadreach, and he taught me how to splice. He is the most interesting person I’ve ever met, and easily one of the best storytellers. Moxie can sit down and talk about grass growing, and you’ll be enthralled. He met me in Bermuda once to deliver a similarly decrepit Pearson Vanguard 32 up to Halifax. I bailed after seeing the boat, to Moxie’s chagrin – he was up for anything. The boat ended up sitting there in the end.

    Moxie has some stories from living in San Francisco about subsisting on the offal from the local Whole Foods – he and his anarchist friends were able to feed 300 people from the fresh food that Whole Foods deemed ‘past date’, and they would hold open dinners in the parks. He built a houseboat on the waterfront, bicycling found materials back and forth to do it, only to be thwarted by the local authorities, who he says still haven’t given him a legal reason for doing so. To add to his legend, Moxie is a computer genius – he develops encryption software for iPhones and the like to keep them ‘private’. He’s a hell of a character and a great guy.

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