Many people dream of ocean voyages to distant shores. The freedom and personal challenge can be quite appealing, but the doing might take years to bear fruit. Years ago, I delivered a few yachts during my mandatory vacation time in the merchant marine. My deliveries were mostly down the East Coast of the U.S. to the sunny warm waters of the Caribbean—a trip of several thousand miles, most often out of sight of land. I’m reflecting on this now since a few transient boaters have come through requesting a mooring for a night, and some of the boats in my harbor are preparing for that same general trip—before the onset of winter.
As eager sailors pack their gear and supplies aboard, I take a long look. To me, back in my delivery days, it was not so much about the boat being capable of a blue water trip, but whether the boat was equipped and the people prepared for such a trip. I’m taking that same view now.
Take John Woolcott and his wife Travis, for example. John just retired and the Woolcotts plan to take their Gulfstar 44-foot sailboat, Another Adventure, from Massachusetts to the Exumas and the Abacos for the next nine months. I meet John on the dock as he wheels cart after cart of supplies to the quay and loads them on board—this has been going on for almost two weeks, so I can’t help but ask a few questions. “What is all this stuff and where are you putting it all?”
John replies, “I’ve owned this boat for 15 years and have been planning this for a long time. Some of the stuff is replacement parts like new fire extinguishers, so the old stuff will come off.” Upon further discussion John reveals he has spent about 20 grand refitting the boat. The engine has been serviced, spare parts for just about everything are loaded in clearly marked containers, and extra equipment has been purchased — like a new Manson anchor purchased to complement the Danforth and Fortress anchors already onboard. “I lay awake at night wondering what I forgot,” says John. “It helps to keep paper and pen on the nightstand.”
The Woolcotts aren’t exactly novices. Travis chimes in, “We’ve visited friends down there twice to get the lay of the land and decide what we’d need for an extended stay.” The couple has cruised to Maine and John has sailed to Bermuda, but neither has gone this far for this long. They’ll make the trip in stages, with crew jumping on and off at various points as they make their way down the East Coast to Stuart, Florida before leaving for the Abacos. Meal planning for guests onboard has been detailed and plenty of slack has been built into the schedule to allow for the inevitable weather delays and exploration and layover time needed along the route.
The aptly named Another Adventure is scheduled to depart very soon. I’m sure that all the planning and investment the Woolcotts have made will result in blue-water dreams fulfilled. I can’t help but be excited for them—wish I were going.