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
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.
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 lagoon.
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
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
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
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.
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 Indian
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.
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
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 life.
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 everything?