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"Coming Home"
After a seven-month circumnavigation, Nordhavn
returns to California
By Jim Leishman
October 2002 Sea


The Atlantic and the Caribbean had proven to be friendly and easy oceans to cross. With fair trade wind conditions since leaving the Mediterranean, Nordhavn and its crew about to reenter the Pacific the so-called "placid ocean" that had oven so formidable just five months before.

Arriving in Colon, Panama on Thursday, May 24, Capt. Dan Streech contacted our friend and agent Peter evens of Delfino Maritime Agency, to organize the necessary arrangements for our canal transit. Within a couple hours of our arrival, the admeasurer was aboard and Nordhavn was surveyed to calculate its canal fee. Then, Peter arranged for slip space at Panama Yacht Club, where the crew would await transit.

Friday and Saturday were spent provisioning and cleaning. On Sunday morning, Nordhavn began its transit of the third great canal of the circumnavigation - the previous two being the Suez and the Korinth.

Nordhavn's canal transit proved uneventful. The high point occurred when many of our friends watched on the Panama Canal's Web site (www.pancanal.com) as Nordhavn was slowly lowered back into Pacific waters under the watchful eye of the Miraflores Lock camera.

The next morning, Capt. Dan wrote: "We're at sea again, and are presently 25 miles from Punta Mala, our next waypoint. After completing the canal transit, we pulled into Flaminco Marina, where we readied sea. "Jeff Merrill and one of the hired line handlers went to the market for some last-minute supplies, while Mike Gregovich and Kevin Ryan fueled and tidied up the engine room. I told Mike and Kevin to "pack" the boat, and they managed to squeeze in 755 gallons (at $1 per gallon).

"We will run non-stop to Acapuleo (a distance of about 1,500 miles) - and I intend to run hard and arrive with minimal fuel on board. Mike referred to me as 'a bam-soured horse.' With Nordhavn now back in the Pacific and pointed generally toward home, one cannot help it. The thought of my sweet wife, Marcia, waiting for me in Acapuleo, causes the throttle to be inched forward.

"For the past four days, poor Nordhavn has been a dormitory, cafeteria and public bathroom. As planned, Jeff and Kevin were to overlap so that Both could experience the canal transit. Writer Tim Banse's stay that was o be a simple overnight event stretched o two days, due to the transit delay. |Add to that the line handlers, the pilot and various guests (all asking 'do you mind if I use the head?'), and you can see that we were like an overbooked hotel.

"While we were sorry to see our excellent shipmate and good friend Jeff Merrill and our new friend Tim Banse leave, it was a relief to hoist their luggage to the dock and reclaim our lit-Me ship. The transfer or replacement of crew is an interesting phenomenon, hot unlike what is seen on the television show 'Survivor.'

"By about 8 p.m., Nordhavn was ready for sea. Fuel was loaded, the engine room was thoroughly checked, the food was stowed, the boat was cleaned and the previous four days of slothfulness had been erased. By this time however, rain was falling, lightning was flashing and an onshore wind of 20 knots was fluttering the Nordhavn burgee. We were exhausted from an exciting day that began at 3:30 a.m.

'"Should we leave?' we asked ourselves. 'Yeah, lets go.'

"We slowly motored through the I anchorage, as Mike and Kevin stowed lines and fenders and made Nordhavn ready for sea. With building apprehension, I could see the rain blowing sideways, illuminated by the fluorescent lights on the breakwater.

"As we rounded the breakwater, we | entered a very lumpy and confused sea- and saw our radar screen FULL of ships, buoys and islands. We bumped our way through an uncomfortable night of trying to read the movements of various ships, hanging on to the bucking Nordhavn.

"The weather settled down during the night and the dawn brought a beautiful sunrise, smoother seas and fewer ships. I am glad that we left last night. We have already put about 70 miles in the bank."

ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS - OR STORMS
Our original schedule called for an arrival in Panama a few weeks earlier. For numerous reasons, it was taking Nordhavn longer to circle the world than anticipated. The typhoons in the Pacific and spring storms in the Mediterranean, plus the time required to clear in and out of the various countries we visited and to take on supplies - all combined to set us back by about four weeks.

Nordhavn was now northbound during the beginning of Mexico's hurricane season. All around the boat, huge bands of thunderstorms were forming, creating torrential rain, erratic localized winds and confused and uncomfortable sea conditions. In the intense heat and with water temperatures in the 80 degree range, it wasn't long before numerous storm bands joined, organized and began to build strength. On May 28, warnings were issued for tropical storm Alma - the first hurricane of the season.

Nordhavn was still well south of Alma, but after the weeklong battle with Typhoon Faxai in the central Pacific last December - where the storm turned in directions that amazed the forecasters - we kept a close eye on Alma.

Fortunately, Alma behaved, moving northward well ahead of Nordhavn. However, on June 1, another tropical depression developed. It failed to build to storm status - and Nordhavn arrived in Acapulco on June 4, after a bumpy and wet, but generally uneventful voyage.

Dan Streech, Mike Gregovich and Kevin Ryan had delivered - and the ship was handed over to P.A.E. partner Joe Meglen, along with sales representatives Dennis Lawrence and Gary Armellino, for the final 1,500 mile run to Dana Point.

On June 7, Joe Meglen wrote: "Crew Four turned over Nordhavn in excellent condition, as they passed the baton to Grew Five. We received a clean, freshly oiled and fueled little ship.

"Gary went grocery shopping to reprovision on Thursday, while Dennis and I were given our orientation from Mike and Dan. We had a fellow named 'Coyote,' a local entrepreneur, deliver additional oil and coolant.

"We were joined on June 6 by writer Courtney Freeman. Weather permitting, we planned to stop in Manzanillo, Bahia Navidad and Puerto Vallarta. Given these stops and Nordhavn's range, we plan to top off our fuel tanks and bypass Cabo San Lucas altogether. All of this is subject to change, based on the fact that we are cruising in hurricane country during the beginning of the season. The harbormaster in Acapulco cleared us out - to Puerto Vallarta.

"The weather is cloudy, unsettled and steamy. We left Club de Yates Acapulco, turned west passing through the Boca Chica strait, passed Punta Lorenz then made our right turn to begin the 'uphill' slog up the coast. We are thrilled, but almost embarrassed to report that we have calm and following seas, with just enough wind to cool things down, allowing the air conditioning to be shut down.

"Our plan is to hug the coast, picking up a counter current and allowing us to make a quick right turn to a port of refuge if a tropical storm develops. We hope that our next report includes the same benign conditions we are currently enjoying."

The fine weather was short-lived, as a new tropical depression was developing. Unlike Alma, this one was behind Nordhavn - heading straight at the boat. On June 8, a warning was issued. We immediately called our forecaster, Walt Hack. He confirmed the severity of the situation.

I urgently advised Joe to seek shelter at the closest port: Manzanillo. Joe elected to pull into Bahia Navidad, about 20 miles north of Manzanillo, as it offered better protection from the season's second Hurricane: Boris.

By June 11, after a three-day wait, Boris had degraded back into a tropical depression. Nordhavn resumed its northward course. The crew stopped at Puerto Vallarta on June 12, where Freeman disembarked.

From there on, the plan was to run non-stop to San Diego. Weather was rough out of Puerto Vallarta, but there appeared to be no further threat of tropical storms. By June 14, the rough seas began to subside and Nordhavn was making good speed up Mexico's Baja Peninsula.

ANOTHER CIRCUMNAVIGATOR
During the past few months, I had been watching the progress of another circumnavigator, Spirit of Cardiff. Like Nordhavn, this vessel was trying to set a record for the fastest circumnavigation - however, that's where the similarity ended.

Spirit is a 33 foot rigid-bottom inflatable boat, which left Cardiff, England it the end of March, taking an easterly route. Nordhavn and Spirit had passed each other in April on the Mediterranean without making contact. But now, on the Pacific, we would try to rendezvous.

Through numerous e-mails, Clive Tully and I exchanged positions, courses and speeds. At 7 p.m., the two vessels met off the southern Baja Peninsula.

Joe Meglen wrote: "We had a surprise visit by Spirit of Cardiff and its crew - Alan Priddy, Steve Lloyd and Clive Tully - tonight at 7:10 p.m. We expected to connect with them sometime tomorrow, but at 14 knots, Spirit of Cardiff is traveling faster than we had expected.

"If ever we thought the crew of Nordhavn was roughing it, those thoughts were quickly dispelled after seeing the vessel that Alan, Steve and Clive are traveling in. When boarding Nordhavn, these adventurous Brits Brought that they were boarding Queen Mary - with our spaciousness, engine loom, air conditioning, heating system, separate staterooms, wheelhouse, freezer, etc. - and we suddenly gained a much greater appreciation for the civilized manner in which we are traveling.

"We took Spirit of Cardiff in tow, while its crew joined us for a few pints and a quick dinner. We swapped a few stories and a few toasts, then they were off as quickly as they had appeared. As the crew of Spirit departed, they presented us with a plaque and a coat of arms commemorating their circumnavigation. We wished them well."

A full account of Spirit of Cardiff's adventures can be viewed on the boat's Web site: www.spirit-of-cardiff.com. Unfortunately, crewmember Steve Lloyd suffered a massive heart attack near Newfoundland only days away from finishing the voyage. He was airlifted off Nordhavn and survived the ordeal - however, completion of the circumnavigation had to be postponed.

HOME AT LAST
Nordhavn completed its final leg, cruising into San Diego on June 18. The following day, the vessel moved to Oceanside Harbor - 40 miles up the coast. It would remain in Oceanside until the official homecoming in Dana Point on June 30. During that trip to Oceanside, Nordhavn turned westward and crossed 117.42 degrees West longitude - officially completing its circumnavigation on June 19. On June 30,1 was back at the helm as Nordhavn and its crew were treated to a rousing homecoming. Hundreds of friends, family members and well-wishers gathered at Dana Point Harbor to greet us. This was definitely a very happy ending to our cruise of a lifetime.

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Nordhavn 40 Around the World Voyage