The Trip

Around the world via the canals

  • 1994 – Palua Tiga, Sabah, Malaysia

We sailed a fairly standard, tropical, trade-wind route westward around the world via the two canals, Panama and then Suez. It took us three years until our inbound path crossed our outbound path in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Our passages were timed with the optimum seasons, to statistically reduce the chance of encountering bad weather. There was very limited weather reporting in the ocean, even if we could tune in our short wave radio. We always shake our heads when we read of people surviving hurricanes during the season. We enjoy their stories, but spare giving them our sympathy. What were they doing there in the first place?

Of course in certain areas, there is no perfect season. To cross the Tasman Sea you travel either in spring or fall, between the winter storms and summer hurricanes. During our fall passage we faced an early winter storm and then a late tropical depression on the same two week passage. In those days, you chose the weather to leave in, and then hoped for the best.

We learned about all this in the superb cruising bible, World Cruising Routes, by Jimmy Cornell.

We joked with friends that if we stayed in one place an extra week or two, then we’d have to wait another year. In a sense this is true, as we didn’t want to be pushing the edges of the season and risk bad weather, or a slow passage. Every passage is contingent on the one before it. Thus, based on a few options, our circumnavigation was fixed at three years, plus some time to get back to our starting point in Florida.

A catamaran named Madeline

Length: 33 feet
Beam: 14′ 4″
Draft: 2′ 6″
Displacement: 9,250 lb.

  • 1994 – Hill Inlet, WhitSunday Islands, Australia

When multi-hulls were less common

Madeline is 33-foot catamaran built by Prout Catamaran in England in 1986. We were her third owners. She is not super fast – especially after we loaded her down four inches in the water with all our gear and provisions – but in those days cruising catamarans were fairly rare and weren’t very quick. She made up for our lack of experience with safety. She was very comfortable both at sea and at anchor, which can be the difference between exhausted, last-minute decisions and rational, well-though-out ones.

Getting prepared

  • 1996 – Green Harbour, Antigua

This adventure took a lot of preparation and planning, and this was back when we used paper charts and had to go to nautical book stores for information. We started sailing small keelboats called Sharks in Lake Ontario. We graduated to some long distance racing in Lake Huron. We also took some bareboat charters (including our honeymoon) to help understand life on a small boat.

We have provide some long lists of gear, but I must emphasize the importance of keeping things simple and doing with less. The less you take, the sooner you are out cruising (if you have a small budget like us) and the less time you spend fixing things once out there. If possible, get the bare necessities and then spend a season or a year cruising. You will soon know what equipment is important and what isn’t.

The trend is toward bigger and more lavishly outfitted boats. Personally, we found something special about arriving in a port not knowing everything – which boats to expect (and vice versa) and the exact cost for washing a bag of laundry. We knew very little what to expect and only has a short range VHF radio and short wave receiver (which we picked up in Panama) so we coudl at least listen to the boats with SSB and Ham radios.

One of my dreams is to sail on a disposable, inexpensive boat. A boat that I could lose on a reef without worrying about insurance, that I could leave in remote locations without security concerns, and that I could invite a whole village aboard for a day sail, without worrying about the disparity in our wealth, or that my suede settee might get wrecked. If I got tired of such a life, I would spend a few nights ashore in a hotel, or fly home, without financial second thoughts. 

In practice, life is more of a compromise, but these alternatives are important to consider when budgeting and outfitting a boat for extended cruising. 

Where is Madeline?

  • 1996 – Completion of circumnavigation in Turtle Cove, Turks and Caicos


We bought Madeline in North Carolina in 1992. She was only 6 years old and had not been sailed much, which was good in the sense I could install all the necessary gear myself, but also meant we needed the budget. We sailed her down the intra-coastal waterway and quickly outfitted her in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We returned to Fort Lauderdale after the trip and put he up for sale.

We sold Madeline to a couple from North Carolina, Jill and John Kelly. They made much-needed refurbishment of her interior and added radar, SSB, watermaker, a new roller furler, plus other gear. She spent the 1999 winter in the Bahamas and we received e-mails from boats that spotted her. In 2000, she voyaged north to Nova Scotia where she discovered Canada the hard way in the fog. In 2002, she pulled into Norman’s Cay in the Bahamas when we were visiting our friends, Juana and Steve, from Island Time, who now had a home there. We had a wonderful reunion and showed her to our kids. Derek said, “first I read the book and now I’ve sailed on her”.

In 2003, John and Jill sold her to another young Canadian couple. In 2004, they attempted to cross the Atlantic to Europe, but turned back when they hit a container and broke the outdrive. They had a baby boy and the last picture we had was of their toddler standing in the cockpit in St. Augustine, FL. They were considering moving ashore. We still hope she is showing other the wonders of the world.

What was the longest fish landed?

6′ Blue Marlin

  • 1994 – Flinders Group, inside the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Number of Countries Visited
Total Distance Traveled
Longest Passage in Days
Longest Passage in Miles
Most Pleasant Long Passage
Roughest Passage
Fastest Recorded Speed
Best View From a Shower
Biggest Fish Landed
Longest Fish Landed
Most Fish Eaten by Sharks
Most Lobster
Best Native Cuisine
Cheapest Meal
Most Expensive Harbor
Most Beautiful Island
Worst Equipment Failure
Deepest Anchorage
Best Snorkeling/Diving
Most Embarrassing Docking
Worst Night at Sea
Greatest Sigh of Relief
Best Laundry
Worst Laundry
Nights at Sea – 1993
Nights at Sea – 1994
Nights at Sea – 1995
Nights at Sea – 1996
32,000 nautical miles (60,000 km)
24 – Canary Islands to Grenada
2965 nm Galapagos to Marquesas
Maldives to Djibouti, Indian Ocean
Going to / from New Zealand
13.4 knots, the Tasman Sea
Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas
70 lb albacore tuna, east of Tonga
6 ft blue marlin, Great Barrier Reef
The Red Sea
The Bahamas
Eritrea, US$14 – 9 people including beer
Bora Bora
Broken forestay in Pacific
28 m – Fesdu Atoll, Maldives Islands
Maldives (Alec), Red Sea (Alayne)
Brisbane – hit 3 boats
Mallorca, left anchorage in 50-knots
Hit a whale – no damage
Larnaca Marina, Cyprus
Derawan, Indonesia, got bed bugs

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