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"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."

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