"As the World Turns"
Once Around the Planet, Slowly
By Jim Leishman
December 2002 Boating
Not many people would call a global circumnavigation in a
40' boat "uneventful" or "easy". But Jim Leishman
and his crew planned their eight-month journey so carefully that
these are the exact words he uses emphasizing there's no better
way to describe it.
Let's be clear. The 46-year-old Leishman runs Nordhavn, a line
of bluewater cruisers he founded in the 1970s. His goal for this
adventure was self-promotion: to take an off-the-shelf Nordhavn
40 and go around the world. Sure, it was meant to sell boats. But
it also had another, more universal, message. "Lots of people don't
think powerboats are well suited for long-range cruising," says
Leishman. "We were anxious to prove otherwise." And he did.
The group set off on November 3, 2001, from Dana Point, California,
at their typical leisurely and fuel-efficient cruising speed of
7 knots, which burned 2.6 gph from the single 100-bhp 6.8-liter
Lugger diesel. Their goal was to return within six months. They
stocked the boat with every conceivable spare part: hydraulic lines,
fixtures, steering cylinders. They loaded up a freezer box, nabbed
tuna and wahoo from the sea, and restocked in their 23 ports of
call. Communication was by satellite phone and e-mail. Weather was
monitored back in the United States on Internet sites and through
a professional service, and then e-mailed or sat-phoned to the boat.
No matter how much you plan, any 24,000-mile journey is going to
have surprises. A late-season tropical depression chased them in
the central Pacific, where 50- knot winds and 20-foot seas forced
them to hole up in Micronesia; an oil hose required a replacement
part (one of the few they hadn't thought to pack); and a gyroscope
on the stabilizer failed. Eight months at sea and these were the
only problems? "We were lucky," admits Leishman. But he also attributes
the success to the crew and their dedication to maintaining equipment.
Fuel management was the biggest factor, and almost a crippling blow.
On the 2,345-mile leg to Honolulu, they arrived with just 60 gallons-out
of 900 in their tanks.
From Hawaii, their route took them to Singapore, the ^ Maldives,
the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, over to the Cape Verde Islands,
Barbados, Panama, Puerto Vallarta, and home, where they landed on
June 30. Longer than their time limit, yes, but short enough to
be impressive. With 170 days at sea, delays came in the ports, where
bureaucracy slowed them down the most. "It was an amazing adventure,"
Leishman says. "But racing from port to port was tough." When asked
what he would advise others thinking of following his example, he
didn't hesitate. "Don't rush it. Take three years, so you can stop
and look around."