Maine’s short summer is winding down, and “No Regrets” is stuck at the boatyard. Aside from sailing the boat from one yard to another at the start of the season, we have not been able to sail this year. The major work we had done was to replace an engine and service the transmissions that turn the propellers. One thing led to another. The yard recommended that we replace the wiring in the engine rooms, because it was poor quality. We agreed, without realizing that the yard didn’t actually have time to finish this work. We’ve been waiting a month, unable to use the boat. After many delays and a constant stream of apologies about how busy they are with emergencies, today was to be the “sea trial” to demonstrate that the new engine and wiring are working. The dreaded but half-expected phone call came this morning. “The boat isn’t ready…,” followed by more apologies and excuses and stories. We rescheduled for tomorrow (Friday). Sunday we need to move the boat to another yard, because we have more work waiting to happen there. What are the chances that things will be working enough for a sea trial tomorrow…? Even if they are, we will probably come away with a list of things to “finish up.” What are the chances of that being done before Sunday…? We are held hostage, because we can’t very well take the boat away with the job unfinished. I thought we were going to do some sailing on the beautiful coast of Maine this summer…
17 days until we are scheduled to leave Maine (to take the boat to New Jersey for two months). 156 days until we start the BPO.
Tim, Bill and I have become equal owners, equal partners. If we need to identify one captain on board, we will rotate that responsibility. We will sail West around the world, as participants in a rally called the Blue Planet Odyssey (www.blueplanetodyssey.com). The “BPO” has a theme of calling attention to global issues of climate change and health of our oceans. (More to come about that.) We will be following a predetermined schedule over 2 ½ years, and rendezvousing with other boats at the major stops along the way. And we will be starting the circumnavigation in less than 2 years.
This is not what I had envisioned, by a long shot.
People say, “You’re going to sail around the world with two guys you hardly know, that you met via the Internet!?” Yes, I am. Sometimes I reply, “When at sea in a small boat, stuff will happen with people you DO know, including close friends and family!” Most people laugh and agree. The three of us have a strong commitment to a shared goal, and we have demonstrated a willingness to work things out.
As for not doing it alone: What a relief! Bill and Tim are both good at troubleshooting problems and doing repairs. The fear of “too much boat to maintain” is gone. And splitting the costs three ways is a wonderful thing.
About the west-about route in the tropics, and not sailing below the world’s big Capes: I’m okay with that. If I want to sail around Cape Horn someday, maybe I’ll do another voyage.
About taking 2 ½ years, and stopping “everywhere” along the way: This idea has grown on me. One of the reasons I didn’t want to “sight see” originally is that I didn’t want to deal with all the logistics of taking a boat into new countries and staying in unfamiliar ports. But as part of the BPO rally, most of this is predetermined – minimal work on my part.
About not having the “freedom” to go wherever we want along the way: Although commonly we think of freedom as avoiding commitments, there is also a freedom that comes from being committed. When Hallie and I sailed for a year long ago, we had a strict itinerary because we were meeting friends/family all along the way. There were sailors who thought we were nuts. But as those sailors perseverated about whether it was time to leave or not, and whether to visit island A or island B, I didn’t see them having any more fun than we were having. I’m okay with following the BPO schedule.
About leaving sooner than anticipated: well, there’s my “pull” toward retirement!
Thirty years ago Hallie and I sailed across the Atlantic and back aboard a 43’ monohull (single hull, as opposed to a catamaran with two hulls or a trimaran with a main central hull and two smaller outrigger hulls). I spent long hours sailing home in the trade winds, wishing we had a multihull (catamaran or trimaran). Monohulls have weight added in their keels to keep them from tipping over. Multihull rely on the stability of their shape, so they have no ballast, and they are lighter weight (at least if they are designed for sailing, as opposed to being floating apartments). Here I was sailing in the perfect trade winds, downwind all the way, dragging 10,000 pounds of lead ballast across the ocean. And rolling from side to side in the waves, making it hard to get dressed or cook or handle the sails or even sit and read. A multihull would be faster and more comfortable, and would be my next offshore boat.
My preference was a large (50’) trimaran. In my experience as a cruising sailor (not a serious racer) trimarans are faster and more fun to sail than catamarans. The drawback is that the accommodations are limited to the long narrow central hull, which means they are fine for a singlehander (solo sailor) but poor if living aboard with my wife and hoping to have guests aboard for a week now and then. Would I care about that? Well, it’s hard to imagine working on a boat for a year or two to get it ready, then sail it around the world, and then have to get rid of it because it wouldn’t work for Hallie and me to hang out for the winter in the Caribbean…
So is there any boat that could satisfy my sailing desires, and also be a good live-aboard afterwards (and still be affordable)? A catamaran might compromise the sailing fun somewhat, but would have much more accommodation space. But I did not want what is commonly called a “condo-maran” which makes all the design trade-offs in favor of comfort over sailing qualities. These thoughts led me to the Atlantic catamarans designed by Chris White (www.chriswhitedesigns.com).
I googled “chris white atlantic catamaran” and stumbled upon a message board post by a guy in Vermont who was looking for a partner to share ownership of an Atlantic 42 for cruising on the coast of Maine. The Atlantic catamarans are not production boats. There may have been 20 of the 42’s built over the years. The fact that this guy was specific about wanting this design caught my interest. I had to contact him. So I had a nice exchange of emails with Bill, and we agreed that our goals overlapped only in that we had an interest in the same design (and we both love the Maine coast), and we ended with, “Good luck. Stay in touch…”
I flew to Florida to look at an Atlantic 46. My reaction? “Holy crap, that is a BIG boat!” The idea of trying to singlehandedly maintain all the systems aboard scared me. Instead of enjoying a year of sailing I would be spending a year repairing things and being scared about what would go wrong next. (Some say the definition of cruising is repairing a boat in exotic places!) I met with Chris White, who offered some perspective. “Yes, it’s a big boat when tied to the dock. But it gets small very quickly when you’re sailing offshore.”
Then I got another email from Bill. “There’s a guy who just bought an Atlantic 42 on Chesapeake Bay. He wants to sail around the world, but he’s looking for partners. Want me to put you in touch with him?” A few hundred emails, two days of sailing, and a lunch in New Hampshire (midway between my home in Maine and Bill’s in Vermont) later, the three of us formed a partnership. Yes, three of us – because the opportunity was irresistible to Bill, too.