Reflection at the half way point
Yes, it's true. After the months and months and months of effort
spent commissioning, route planning, publicizing, sea trialing and
organizing, the Around The World trip came close to never happening.
The events of September 11th shocked and saddened everyone, and
for us at P.A.E., it gave significant pause as whether to even bother
embarking on the trip. A huge chunk of time would be spent in the
waters surrounding the "battle zones" and the potential for the
crews' safety was of utmost concern. After weeks of anguishing deliberation,
the decision was made to go on.
The first leg was casual and easygoing - a cruise through Pacific
islands where the only malaise came from trying to outsmart a pesky
tropical storm. For nearly three months, we almost forgot about
the potential for real danger that lie in Nordhavn's course. Since
the beginning of March, however, the boat not only passed just a
few hundred miles from the border of Pakistan where violence erupted
Sunday killing two Americans; it skirted the coast of Yemen where
just last week an attack was made against the U.S. embassy.
How reassuring - and a bit unexpected - it was to hear of Capt.
Jim Leishman's praise for the people of Oman, a country that borders
both Pakistan and Yemen. It was the ATWers first stop in the Middle
East and they found the locals were friendly and displayed not an
ounce of animosity toward them - not to mention the sheer comfort
they enjoyed sharing the harbor with the British Merchant Marines.
Their encounters in Djibouti - separated from Yemen by just 25
miles at the entrance of the Red Sea - were closer to what they
expected. If not for having to pick up a part that was Fed Exed
there, the boat would never have made the stop in Djibouti. Still,
local climate was disdain more for the U.S. government than actual
hostility directed towards them as Americans. Back at P.A.E. in
California, we held our breath waiting to hear from the crew after
what seemed like several days since the last correspondence. Thankfully,
it was time spent maneuvering around the country's dirty, archaic
surroundings, figuring out questionable local customs and procedures,
and - simply put - bad food that prevented a check-in to the homefront.
They finally got out of Djibouti and are now climbing the Red Sea
en route to the Suez. There are still a few hundred miles left before
the boat is out of politically uncertain waters, but we're all happy
with how events have gone thus far. Not lost in all this is the
boat's performance at the half-way point of the trip. A couple of
minor parts adjustments and the boat is as steady and proficient
as it was when she left Dana Point. 13,000 miles down, 13,000 to