May 22, 2006
Next spring marks the 50-year anniversary of Phil Ritchey’s graduation from West Point and he intends to arrive there in his Nordhavn 43. First, however, he will circumnavigate the globe.
It sounds ambitious. Then again, Ritchey is a pretty ambitious guy.
Even though he has close to a year until the big event at the renowned military academy, Ritchey is planning on completing the global trek in just six months. An impressive undertaking for any seasoned captain and his steely crew. But when you take into account Ritchey’s deck hands are four of his fellow West Point classmates – all of whom are in their 70s – you realize just how special this voyage is.
A no-nonsense kind of guy, Ritchey has always wanted to go around the world by boat. But given his place in life right now, he didn’t want to waste any time. “Basically, he just said, ‘if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it now,’” said Phil’s wife, June. She was on board with his dream, but not necessarily the long legs of the trip. “It’s a long time not to be in sight of land, so when he said he had some volunteers to join him, I told him it was fine with me.”
Given their affiliation to West Point, it’s no surprise that each mate was more gung ho than the next. On April 25th, they all boarded Venture in Dana Point, CA and headed out on the 2,300-nm first leg to Hawaii. The seas were somewhat rough, but nothing the group couldn’t handle – especially after they lost one stabilizer on day 3 of the journey. The other one gave out on day 10, so they wobbled their way the last week of the leg before reaching port at the Hawaii Yacht Club in Honolulu on May 12th.
“They’re a lot tougher than I gave them credit for,” said Nordhavn 43 Project Manager, Pete Eunson. “Going that long without any stabilizers is not easy.”
The boat left Hawaii on Saturday en route to the Marshall Islands.
Venture will continue on a course through the South Pacific. When it arrives in Australia, June, along with some of the other wives, will meet the crew and tour Australia and New Zealand.
If the boat remains on schedule, they will arrive in Trinidad at the end of six months – right around Thanksgiving – at which point Phil Ritchey and his mates will fly back home for the holidays.
June and the ladies will re-join the boat when it arrives in the Caribbean and stay on board for the trip up the East Coast and to New York, in time for the reunion.
“This has been his dream and he’s wanted to fulfill it,” said June. “I’d say he’s doing a good job so far.”
Depart Dana Point, California
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Cape Town, South Africa
West Point, NY