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April 20, 2017

Reliance Admist Circumnavigation
Editor’s note: Last names have been omitted for purposes of privacy

There have been a number of articles on this website with a theme of Carpe Diem, seizing the day to embark on your life’s adventure instead of putting it off for another time, and risk the possibility of never circling back to see it through. It’s such a prevalent excuse: the timing’s just not right. And it might be valid, but it also conveniently masks other excuses: fear of change, fear of the unknown.
 
The consequence is that you’re stuck with days that pass by while your unrealized passion sits preoccupying the back of your mind. It was the threat of never getting the chance to fulfill a dream of exploring the world in the vein of old-school explorers, via the great capes, that drove Dalton, then 23 years old and fresh out of college, to not mess around, and seize the day. After discussing his dreams of travel with a mentor who posed the question, “what are you waiting for?,” a question to which Dalton had no good answer, he immediately began researching and preparing for the adventure of his life.

For some, adventure is innate, and perhaps so for Dalton, but he had a huge influencer, too: his grandfather, the type of person who had a joie de vivre and needed to know what else there was out in the world. It was his grandad’s stories about surviving as a World War II veteran, suffering through failed boating excursions, and fighting health conditions that taught Dalton about perseverance. A successful businessman who journeyed the world extensively, the man used to regale his grandkids with tales of his travels. So it was no surprise that Dalton wound up with a penchant to experience the world – on his own schedule, in charge of his itinerary, and where the act of getting there was as important as the actual being there.

Traveling by sea was the way to do it.

The thrill of boating had been instilled in him at a very young age –his father and grandfather alike were avid sailors and handed the passion down to young Dalton. When his grandparents circumnavigated in their own boat, Dalton’s family visited them at different stops. “The fact that [Granddad] had bought a boat so we could join them on their trip around the world meant that we could share in the [kinds of] experiences, he talked about,” Dalton says. “As I was growing up, that had a massive impact on my world view.”
 
Dalton’s parents were also influenced by the trip and they prepared for their own circumnavigation, which excited a then pre-teen Dalton. But due to unforeseen circumstances, the trip never happened, leaving Dalton with an unfulfilled promise of adventure and a glimpse of what can happen if you wait too long to do something.
 
Acting on his mentor’s encouragement, Dalton decided he would take two years off after college to sail around the world. One thing was for certain, he wanted this to be an adventure and that meant going around the likes of Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope. He also knew that the longest crossing was going to be around 3,000 nm. “The more I searched, the more Nordhavn turned up and the more I was convinced no other boat could fulfill my dream the way a Nordhavn could.” Although sailing had been the tradition of his father and grandfather, Dalton knew a sailboat would not offer the space, capability and versatility of a Nordhavn.
 
In 2014, Dalton purchased a used Nordhavn 76 and hired a Captain, Chase, a then 25-year-old with years of experience working on other boats, and the requisite keen sense of curiosity and adventure. Chase and his partner at the time oversaw a year-long refit that included a test-circumnavigation around New Zealand. With its four staterooms, captain’s cabin and roomy saloon that would easily accommodate the crew of four 20-something guys, there was no question that the boat, re-christened Reliance, was the ideal transport for the journeys that lie ahead. “Everything from the galley to the final stateroom on the N76 is immaculate and far more comfortable than any hotel I’ve ever stayed in,” notes Dalton.
 
By September of 2015, Reliance was ready and Dalton had brought on first mate Mitchell, now 23, who spent most of his boating life on Lake Michigan. (Engineer Alex would later join the crew in the Seychelles.) Captain Chase brought the boat to Fiji and, from there, the crew set sail on Dalton’s dream circumnavigation.
 
The Reliance crew have spent more than a year at sea, and just recently left Antarctica with the Galapagos in their sights. As it turns out, the voyage has been much more than checking off a few bucket-list items for Dalton; it’s become a soul-searching journey and an antidote to any self-doubts that might have lurked somewhere deep inside of him. The lessons one learns on a journey such as this are lessons difficult to learn anywhere else, says Dalton. “[It’s a] crash course in personal leadership development, if you will. …Stepping away on an adventure for an extended period of time like this is how I have decided to challenge any preconceived notions I may have had about myself. …Self-doubting questions [slip] away and in their place comes clarity.”
 
And while he is enjoying a very successful voyage, it reminds him of the ill-fated sailing trip his grandfather and a friend attempted to South America from the east coast of the U.S. as young men. The first-time boaters made it nearly to Cuba before sinking and being rescued by a cargo ship; despite this, they eventually did make it to South America. “To this day, [my grandfather] credits that trip as the most impactful experience of his life,” he said. “It taught him to stay positive. His experiences in South America also helped him to see the world as a market.”
 
For mid-lifers, Dalton’s story might seem un-relatable. Really, how hard is it for a college kid with his whole life ahead of him to Carpe Diem?! Still, though just a young man, a conceived bad timing-pitfall nearly threatened to hold him back from going after his dream. Dalton’s dilemma was the fear of lost time with his hero, his 91-year-old grandfather. “I didn’t want to leave and miss out on the last few years I could be spending with (my grandfather), but he wouldn’t hear of it,” said Dalton. “He pretty much kicked me out the door.”
 
Dalton couldn’t be more grateful that he did. And with fervent resoluteness, urges anyone else considering a global cruise to also take the first step and never look back. “I couldn’t recommend it more,” he says. “The passages will change you. The different cultures you see will influence your own. The languages will fascinate you. Life on the sea will leave you in awe of what we have beneath our feet and above our heads. Places you can only see in photographs will turn up before your very eyes. In the end, you will be a different person, a better person, fully cognizant of what lurks beyond the horizon. If the ferocity of the seas or the uncertainty of nation states scare you, I’d urge you not to let it get in the way of such an experience. Problem countries can be avoided and weather forecasting in 2017 is impeccable. If you’re on the edge, I assureyou an experience like this is something you can never do again and something you will never forget.
 
“The time that you waste when you could have gone is time that you will not get to spend with the knowledge accrued from the rest of the world. In fact, if you keep saying you will do it later, chances are you probably won’t get to it before something else pops up. If indeed there is something to be learned, why put those lessons off? Can’t you experience more now than you will be able to ten years down the road? If you’re putting it off until later, my grandfather would join me in urging you to do it now.”

Dalton and the Reliance crew are set to complete their circumnavigation this November. Nordhavn.com will celebrate the achievement with a wrap-up story of the entire trip.


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