WORDS CRUISERS NEVER SAY
After completing a circumnavigation on a Privilege 39 catamaran, we want to share what we have learned so far.
We have been sailing around the world for eleven years on our catamaran, Exit Only, and what a trip it has been, full of agony and ecstasy, and everything in between. Captain Dave nearly died in a car accident in New Zealand, and I reckon that qualifies as agony. In the ecstasy department, we sailed 50,000 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 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 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 Indian Ocean.
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 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?