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"Around The World"
By P.A.E. Crew
September 2002 Yachts International


Oman to Athens by Jim Leishman

I shudder when I stop to consider that the fear generated by the attacks almost convinced us to postpone this project. Our fears were not unfounded, but it turns out I feel safer in Oman than some of our earlier crew felt in arguably safer waters. The Arabian Sea and surrounding areas are dotted with British and French navy war vessels, which are hailing all unidentified ships and requesting information about their purpose. While docked, Nordhavn crewmembers Brian Saunders, Paul Grover and I entertained some British Merchant Navy crew who assured us that we are well protected.

Our 700-mile voyage to Djibouti is uneventful and calm seas allow for good time. In Djibouti we run into our first major mechanical problem, a failed gyro. During our three-day stay our local money and cigarettes are used for basic tasks. We are glad to receive our replacement gyro by Fed Ex and cast off for our passage through the many moods of the Red Sea.

At the south end of this waterway we surge along on strong southerlies, then calms in the middle give way to tough northerlies at the north end, which produce 20- to 30-knot gusts on our bow and eight-foot seas that force us down to speeds of four knots. Arriving at the entrance to the Suez Canal, the pesky northerlies subside and we take advantage of a calm day to clean Nordhavn and prep her for the transit. I have passed through the Panama Canal several times but this is my first visit to the Suez, and I am truly amazed by the fact that this engineering masterpiece was built almost entirely by hand over 150 years ago by Egyptian laborers.

We are pleasantly surprised by the sight of hotels, palm-lined banks, flowers and manicured gardens in the coastal community of Ismailia. I promise myself I will return to Egypt to see more, but I can't think about that now. It's time to make the 575-mile leg across the Mediterranean to Athens-a trip that should take four days Unfortunately, 30-knot winds force us to hole up in Ormos Chelantros, a beautiful cove on the Island of North Kasos. After pulling up the hook and heading out to sea, we are greeted by 60-knot gusts and 12-15 foot seas, which force us to pull into another anchorage.

Slowly and steadily we make it to Athens, thrilled to see our co-workers and relieved our part of the trip is now over.

Athens to Barbados By Jeff Leishman
As we take over from the fatigued crew in Athens, we feel refreshed and ready for the long westerly haul along the Mediterranean Sea. It's now early April and Pete Eunson and Justin Zumwalt, both P.A.E. project managers, and I say goodbye to Brian, Paul and Jim, before leaving Athens.

Expecting to find a more seasonable pattern than the members of the last leg found, we are disappointed to find no change in the grueling weather, which make the trip less enjoyable. We work our way towards Sicily and the Straights of Messina, where we meet a steady force six on the nose and rotten weather for three days. Only while transiting the Corinth Canal do we encounter any sort of relief.

As we exit the canal we endure miserable seas until we reach the Spanish port of Puerto de Villajoyosa for a brief rest before going back to work and the continuing pleasures of relentless six-foot seas and 25-knot gales. At this point I'm starting to feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day-every day it seems as if I wake in the same time warp. No matter what direction we steer, we are always heading into foul weather.

Morocco to the left and Spain to the right signifies our approach into the Atlantic. With a 45-degree turn south towards the Canary Islands, we finally get northeasterly breezes and float merrily on calmer swells. The temperature slowly is beginning to rise as we drop in latitude.

Our arrival in Gran Canaria is made pleasant by the warm smiles and helping hands of the locals. We are only docked two days at the hospitable Muelle Deportivo, but I will never forget the people there.

Those good feelings stay with us for the 800-mile ride to Cape Verde-until we get off the boat and find ourselves wading through swarms of flies in thick, mucky water strewn with old fishing nets. On the way, young hooligans rob us of our passports and money, which are recovered the next day by the local police (who, in turn, seek monetary compensation for their heroic efforts).

We make it out to sea and the boat remains stabilized as we cross the Atlantic. Tropical air and sunshine is out in full force. Fishing lines are cast every morning, and about 1,100 miles from our final destination of Barbados we find success! On the hook is a 20-pound dolphin that we make into dinner.

With Barbados on the radar, we prepare to hand Nordhavn over to the new team who are busy getting acquainted with the Mount Gay Rum factory.

California Here We Come By Dan Streetch
Taking over as Captain of Nordhavn on her final leg I realize that I got the easy part of the journey. I begin to get excited about visiting some old haunts in the Caribbean as we say goodbye to Jeff, Pete and Justin and head out of Barbados. Tropical breezes, easy swells, Pina Coladas in the blender and the sounds of jimmy Buffet fill the atmosphere as project manager Jeff Merrill, technical writer Mike Gregovich and I make our way to the San Bias Islands.

San Blas holds a special place within my soul. I visited the pristine islands over 20 years ago in an old 31-foot sailboat embarking from Dana Point and essentially reversing the final two legs of Nordhavn's current course. Arriving there I discover, stunningly, the San Bias' primitive character is still intact.

After spending a couple hundred dollars between us on molas we raise anchor and head for Cristobal at the Atlantic mouth of the Panama Canal about 70 nautical miles away.

Finally on May 26, Nordhavn enters the canal's first chamber in anticipation of jumping over to the Pacific side of things. The prepping process starts shortly before four in the morning and water fills the first lock about two hours later.

Approximately 12 hours and $1,200 later, the canal ride is over. The boat settles in to a slip at the Flamingo Yacht Club for a brief provisioning run, and then it's up the Pacific Coast.

As we approach Acapuico, fuel reserves are slightly low for comfort and we decide to trade fuel for time. Calm seas, clear skies and a school of dolphins playing in the favorable flow welcome us to Acapuico. The boat is thoroughly cleaned inside and out, oil changed, fuel reserves topped off and cupboards filled, and it's off again. After a quick stop for some fuel in Puerto Vallarta, we head on a direct line to Southern California.

On June 30, 2002 seventeen crewmembers and hundreds of greeters line the channel in the Dana Point Harbor to cheer us on our victory lap. After seven months, 24,211 nautical miles and 10,361 gallons of fuel, Nordhavn is home.

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