Where did they go?
What did they accomplish?
I've been sailing around the
world for eleven years on Exit Only, and what a trip it has been, full
of agony and ecstasy, and everything in between. I nearly died in a car
accident in New Zealand, and I reckon that qualifies as agony. In the
ecstasy department, I sailed 33,000 miles around the world, and have
seen the things sailing dreams are made of.
So where did we go? Some
people would say nowhere, but I would say, everywhere my heart desired,
and everywhere I had the courage to point the bows of my sturdy
catamaran. It's all a matter of perspective.
If you are a die hard city
dweller living in New York, Paris, Rome, or London, I suspect you would
say nowhere. After all, we didn't go to a single Broadway musical, or
watch the new year change over in Times Square on December
thirty-first. We didn't walk down the Champs D'Elysee, walk under the
Arc de Triomphe, visit the Sorbonne, or munch croissants at a
sophisticated Paris cafe. We didn't go to the Vatican or tour the Roman
Coliseum. We didn't ride gondolas in Venice or view the Leaning Tower
of Pisa. We didn't see Buckingham Palace, ride the tube, or visit the
Millennium Dome on the River Thames. So there you have it. Hard core
city dwellers are right. We never went anywhere.
But before you pity our
pathetic plight or heap reproach upon our clueless heads, let me tell
you where we went. We went everywhere most city dwellers never go.
We sailed through the Panama
Canal, and spent the night on Gatun Lake in the land between the seas.
We swam with the penguins, seals, and white tip sharks in the
Galapagos. We watched lizards eating cactus blossoms and marine iguanas
swimming along lava encrusted shores.
We sailed into Kontiki Land - the high volcanic Marquesas Islands - the
land of ancient Polynesian warriors, and we walked through the ruins of
their long abandoned villages. We swam beneath a waterfall that was
more than 1200 feet high, jumping off rocks into cool Polynesian pools.
We sailed the crystal clear lagoons of the Tuamotu Archipelagos,
exploring the motus of Apataki with its pearl farms scattered across the
We Med moored downtown on the Quay in Papeete and shopped in traditional
markets. We anchored in paradise in Moorea and hiked up to the
Belvedere. We visited Polynesian ruins in Raiatea and anchored in
Beautiful Taaha. We visited Michener's Bali Hai, Bora Bora, a Pacific
crown jewel and personal sailing mecca that proved I was living my
dreams. In Bora Bora we explored a tabu motu where "extraterrestials"
established a now defunct French new age cult.
We visited Suvarov atoll and met the family that watches over this
remote patch of paradise. We restocked our yacht in American Samoa and
then pointed our bows south to the Kingdom of Tonga. We visited my
favorite named island on planet earth - Malafakalava. We snorkeled
Mariner's Cave, and shopped in Niafu's narrow streets. We sat around
bonfires on the beach and made plans with other cruisers whether we
would sail south to New Zealand or west to Australia.
We dodged uncharted reefs and undersea volcanoes on route to Fiji, and
finally turned south to the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand.
We toured from the North Cape to Wellington, and rode the Lynx across
the tempestuous Cook Straits to the South Island of New Zealand. We
visited glaciers, mountains, drove down Skipper's Canyon and up the
Remarkables, and shot river rapids in jet boats. We visited
Christchurch with its Antarctic staging center and visited Milford Sound
in Fjord Land.
Next stop was New Caledonia and the Isle of Pines, a tiny Pacific
paradise with clear water and beautiful reefs. There were hikes in
Prony Bay where jumping Spanish mackerels land on your boat and into
your frying pan.
Next stop was Australia and the Great Barrier Reef with a ten thousand
kilometer side trip into the Ozzie outback. Then on to Brisbane,
Sydney, Cairns, Townsville, Lizard Island, Thursday Island and Darwin.
Next stop Bali and remote Borneo, traveling up remote rainforest rivers
to commune with wild orangutans in the jungle. We moved on to bustling
Singapore and the Malaysian paradise of Langkawi. We fed Eagles at the
hole in the wall on Langkawi's north shore and cruised among the immense
limestone pinnacles of Malaysia and Thailand. Next came Phi Phi Island
and Phuket in Thailand with a global tsunami that wreaked havoc in the
Then came the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean - a clear water
paradise, and the last outpost before entering the Gulf of Arabia.
Don't forget the adventures in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, and Egypt.
There was a Nile River cruise from Luxor to the High Aswan Dam visiting
the ruins of the pharos' domain. There were Pyramids in Giza and a two
day passage through the Suez Canal.
We made an overnight sail to Israel, running the Israeli Navy gauntlet.
We toured the ancient glory of Nimrod's fortress, the Holy Land, the
Dead Sea, and Mitzpah Ramon crater. Then we made a visit to Jordan's
Wadi Rum and Petra's hidden kingdom.
The voyage continued on to Cyprus and Turkey, land of Crusader castles,
Ephesus, Heriopolis, and waterfalls frozen in time at Pammukale. Next,
we sailed on to Greece, Italy, the Balearics, and Spain. Then we
explored the pillars of Hercules at Gibraltar, the staging ground for
our transatlantic adventure.
Next, we jumped off to the Canary and Cape Verde Islands, and across the
Atlantic to Barbados. Finally, there was the Caribbean with dozens of
unique destinations before crossing our outbound track in Fort
Lauderdale, eleven years after starting our global adventure.
Along the way we saw
thousands of sunrises and sunsets, dozens of green flashes, and we
watched the Milky Way make it's nightly journey across the sky. Orion,
Taurus, and the Pliades were our constant companions as we sailed on
through our nights at sea. We breathed clean air and swam in crystal
clear waters for eleven years. Those were the best eleven years of my
Perhaps die hard city
dwellers are right. Maybe we never went anywhere or accomplished
anything. After all, we didn't visit New York, London, Paris, or Rome.
I'll let you decide. Where
did we go? Nowhere or everywhere? What did we accomplish? Nothing or