This is an email that my mom, Lona, sent out on the conclusion of our Circumnavigation.
Seven years ago we set off on an adventure that would take us to over 50 foreign countries and across every ocean. We left friends, family, jobs, school, our home and almost everything in it in San Diego to drive across country to Florida. Our U-Haul trailer caught fire in Arizona. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of our trip--a mix of the best of times and the worst of times (as Dickens might say), with the best far outweighing the worst.
We found IMMANUEL in Ft. Lauderdale and spent the next two years getting our sea legs sailing the Bahamas and Caribbean. Late summer of 1999 we sailed west out of Trinidad intending to keep following the sun until we returned.
Donny & Kenny joined us in Curacao for a brutal sail through four days of gales and storm conditions with giant seas to San Blas. We had the great honor of attending a baby Kuna Indian girl's primitive "christening."
Taking our leave from the stone-age Kuna Indians, we transited the Panama Canal--one of the technological age's great achievements. Bryan joined us through the canal and on to six of our most pleasant days at sea to the incredible Galapagos Islands--diving with hammerheads, up close with myriad bird life, and having our toes nipped by baby sea lions. Several weeks later, on tax day, April 15, 2000, we started off on our longest passage. Bryan stayed in Galapagos and we "adopted" our Ecuadorian crew Paola for the 23 day sail to the Marquesas.
The milk run through the Pacific gave us lots of new friends and breath-taking South Seas island anchorages. We'll never forget those mountain peaks, spearfishing with Alan and Nicole on the deserted atoll of Suvarov, or Swallows and Amazons with MEHITABEL.
New Zealand brought us more friends and more awe-inspiring vistas. IMMANUEL liked Opua so much she decided to stay there instead of taking us to Auckland as planned. Her transmission shattered into tiny pieces just as we pulled into our slip. IMMANUEL got all new rigging, a new galley, re-conditioned masts, a rebuilt engine, and a new generator. We met our best friends yet--Wei, Jen, and Shan Shan from the Chinese boat BALMETTE.
From New Zealand, it was off to Fiji and Vanuatu for the most incredible night and wreck diving ever along with time amongst people who worship volcanoes and cargo cults, honor pigs with tusks, and wear nothing but nambas (penis sheaths). After a few weeks in kid heaven at Gadji, New Caledonia, it was on to Australia to complete our Pacific crossing. IMMANUEL lost steering less than a day out of New Cal but Bobby nursed her along till we got within 100 meters of the marina where IMMANUEL refused to make the necessary turns through the marina's entrance channel. We had to be towed the last few yards!
While in Oz, Michael learned to wrangle sheep on an outback station and Robby perfected his underwater video techniques on the Great Barrier Reef where we dove with sharks, giant cod, and Minke Whales. An old Aborigine woman told us dream time stories and gave us ancient aborigine treasures and a young Aborigine man taught the guys how to play the digeridoo he made for us. Tiffany came to visit and taught us what real fear on our part and real courage on her part are all about.
Five days out of Darwin we made landfall in Rinca, our first Indonesian Island. We stalked Komodo dragons on the beach, armed only with a big stick. We met our first Muslims and learned all about female circumcision from a woman in Bima who had first-hand knowledge. Bali is a beautiful island full of sweet people. Borneo is wild jungle, river trails, and male orangutans fighting in the trees while females with babes-in-arms frolicked at our feet.
Across some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world to the amazing city-nation of Singapore until the end of monsoon season. Then, up the Malacca Straits to Malaysia and the lovely kingdom of Thailand. After the phenomenal Phang Nga Bay, jungle trekking on elephants, and riding a longtail up the Mekong River, it was off to Sri Lanka where we each left a piece of our hearts.
Between the Maldives and Oman we swam with hundreds of dolphin in the middle of the Indian Ocean. We anchored in Oman two days after Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced. After a few days, when the authorities finally decided it would be safe to let us Westerners out of the Navy base, we saw our first camels walking down the middle of the roads and lounging in the unending desert sands.
We sailed through the most dangerous part of the Gulf of Aden at night with no lights showing and a friendly sailboat one-half mile behind on either side to avoid the pirates who robbed a fellow cruiser at machine-gun point just a week earlier.
Eritrea, our first African port, forever holds another piece of our hearts. Sudan and Egypt need much more than a paragraph to do them justice but riding a camel at night up Moses' mountain, Mt. Sinai, to watch the sunrise from the top and diving on Jacques Cousteau's reefs were absolute highlights.
Three days after coming through the Suez Canal, we arrived in Turkey which we found hard to leave. Sailing the Mediterranean wasn't our cup of tea but the remains of Biblical cities, Greek and Roman ruins, and art and architecture of the Renaissance made it all worthwhile.
Jeff made it possible for us to fly home to the greatest nation the world has ever seen--in business class, no less! Nearly every single family member put us up for a time. One never truly knows how good something is until they lose it.
Following in Colombus's wake to the Canary Islands and across the Atlantic brought us back across our outbound track to close the circle.
We have circumnavigated the world--alone, but not without help. We couldn't have done it without the support and prayers of many of you at home. Thank you. Thank God for keeping us safe in the palm of his hand through some scary times. Special thanks to our East Coast Crew--Bob and Jeanne Gray--who went above and beyond the call of duty in keeping us organized, tracking down needed spare parts, successfully sending those parts and mail to some very remote areas of the world, giving us a home base, keeping everyone at home apprised of our where-abouts, and on-and-on. Thanks to Doug and Marlene for their generous gift of a Ham radio and Pactor I, their expertise, their voices on the other end, and their encouraging emails. Thanks also to all those who came to visit--Tiana, Gus, Donny, Kenny, Bob, Jeanne, Dana, Tiffany, John, Jordan, David, Ben, Bryan, Scott, Lori, Chance, Jeff, Larry, and Barbara. Thanks to all those other cruisers we have been blessed to have known for their ever willingness to help and for their camaraderie. Thanks most of all to our wonderful daughter/sister who watched four-fifths of her family sail away and offered nothing but support and encouragement.
God bless and keep you all.
Bobby, Lona, Robby, Michael
World Tour 1997-2004
(To see even more pictures go back to home then click on "Pictures!" or simply click here)