A few weeks back we were getting a range of people contacting us at Balance to ask if we had seen the Youtube videos featuring Mark Paarman in Fiji, discussing his life, his steel hulled sailboat and his battle with lung cancer with Jason and Nikki Wynn. The Wynns decided a few years ago to give up the grind, get a catamaran, and head out for adventure. They chronicle their journey on their popular Youtube channel, Gone with the Wynns.
As life would have it, the Wynns ended up grounded in Fidji with a Covid lockdown and ran into Mark on the docks. What they were not aware of was that Mark was the initial inspiration behind Nexus Yachts and an early partner with Balance Catamarans on the first Balance 526. The story has been told before, but the initial inspiration for the company was to craft high speed, high payload carrying catamarans for adventure travel. For Mark, specifically, to run adventure surfing expeditions in Indonesia and the Pacific, and for his fellow Calamari fishing friend, John Henrick, to build a fast, strong fishing adventure cat. All they needed was a great guy to build it, so they pulled Mark’s brother, Jonathan Paarman, away from Voyage Yachts in Cape Town to get the project underway. They rounded out the team by having Roger Paarman take over factory set-up and management.
It was through a meeting with Roger (the youngest of the Paarman boys) and Phil Berman at Annapolis in 2013 that Nexus and Balance came together. And it was only through time spent with Mark, Roger and Jonathan in South Africa that Berman felt confident he had found the deeply talented, ethical partners to join forces with.
Sadly, soon after they began working together Mark was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and given a very short time to live. Mark was never a smoker, so not sure how lung cancer attacked him, but he decided to sell his shares in the company to a fellow Nexus Catamaran owner, Alan Harrington. Mark no longer had the time to build a Nexus/Balance 60 for himself and no desire to keep on working at this fishing business, so he did what all South Africans do: He made a plan and got right to it. He needed to get something fast, to get going, to live while he could and to finally grab that world adventure he dreamed of. He found a big steel hulled monohull in Port Elizabeth and immediately set to work on a total refit, with the gusto you find in so many self-made South African men. Soon enough Mark was on his way around the world, a sail to the Caribbean, through the canal, and then landing in Fiji when the pandemic hit. Mark was fortunate that Millennium was a large platform on which to live, as he more or less anchored at the famous surf spot, Cloud Break, and spent his Covid months surfing once or twice or day and making due. Sadly, his wife Liesel was back in South Africa so she could neither get to him, nor he to her.
The Wynns really got Mark out of his shell with their warmth and sincerity. Mark explained that his cancer drugs were costing about $5,000 a month and he was running out of funds. He had cut back his daily dose to every other day then every three days to conserve the Astra Zeneca product that was keeping him alive.
Soon enough an outpouring of generosity arrived when the Wynns video appeared. Two of our Balance customers sent Mark over several thousand dollars to purchase months of drug supply. Others we do not know sent donations, and another person managed to convince Astra Zeneca to chip in. Last week it was deeply touching to get an email from a Brazilian man who had recently lost his wife to cancer and who wished to send Mark all of the remaining drugs he had since his wife had been on the same treatment regimen as Mark.
I want to express my thanks to all of you who have offered Mark financial assistance or otherwise as a result of the lovely video the Wynns produced. If anyone would like to contribute to Marks cause, please feel free to reach out to us. Roger and Jonathan have set up a trust account for any donations made to assist Mark with his health and life.
Because it is time for Mark to get back home and spent time with his family again we placed Millennium under contract to a buyer from Greece, another cancer survivor himself.
Meantime, you really have to see this video Nikki and Jason produced. Mark is a truly amazing man and when you watch the short clips of him surfing at Cloud Break, at his age, with his cancer, it is truly inspiring