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The first person to sail singlehanded around the world on a sailboat was Joshua Slocum starting in 1895.

Since that first circumnavigation, the number of singlehanded sailors undertaking that voyage has gone from a trickle to a small stream.

Singlehanded sailors are a rare breed. Their legendary voyages are tales of epic persistence. They face challenges that few people have faced, and most of them live to tell the story.

Captain Ardell Lien is a circumnavigator who sailed around the world in a 27 foot sailboat which is an amazing accomplishment in itself. What is even more amazing is that he did the voyage when he was 70 years old after recovering from a heart and kidney transplant.

His eighteen month solo circumnavigation visited nineteen ports, and he is the first and only recipient of a double heart and kidney transplant to make the voyage.

Ardell Lien joined the Army in 1955, and served honorably in the US military for 24 years. While serving in Vietnam, he first started thinking about sailing around the world in a sailboat.

Eleven years after he retired from the Army, he purchased a 40 foot boat named Moon Shadow. He his wife sold everything they owned and set sail on cruising adventures. Ardell’s health was not perfect as he was developing heart failure.

In spite of the early heart failure, he set sail to Alaska enjoying a cruise on the Inside Passage. Since the sail to Alaska went well, they decided to venture farther afield. They sailed down the west coast to San Diego and onward to Mexico. The lived and cruised on board Moon Shadow for 6 years, spending 4.5 years in Mexico.

In 1998, his heart decompensated, and he returned to San Diego where he sold the boat. His prognosis was grim as he discovered he had both cardiac and renal failure. The only thing that could save him would be a combined kidney and heart transplant. At that time Ardell said that he was so sick, he had to crawl up the stairs to his bedroom where he slept 18 hours a day.

In 2003, miraculously, a heart and kidney became available, and he underwent a twelve hour transplant procedure.

Six months after surgery he felt good enough to to roof his house, and a year later, he did a complete home remodel.

While he was in the hospital recovering from his surgery, he started thinking about doing a circumnavigation to encourage people to do organ donation. His voyage would show that when you donate an organ, you are donating a life, and that new life was capable of doing great things.

At age 70 he set sail on his 27 foot boat named Catalyst to begin a 27,000 mile fifteen month circumnavigation.

Catalyst was relatively small, and he had to take a three month supply of immunosuppressive medications so he would remain healthy during the circumnavigation. He had no refrigeration on board Catalyst and his diet consisted primarily of packaged and canned foods supplemented by fresh fish that he caught at sea. He had about 50 pounds of pancake mix and lots of canned soup.

He had immunosuppressive medications shipped to him in Australia and South Africa.

His longest passage in the trip was 43 days sailing from Galapagos to Hawaii.

On the final leg of his trip from Hawaii to San Diego, he blew out his jib and mainsail, and he finished the voyage using a number 2 jib and storm trysail.

After his circumnavigation, he returned to the Mayo Clinic where his health was found to be excellent.

Ardell Lien gives the following advice:

“Never, never, never give up. My attitude has always been excellent, and I give a good attitude much credit for my recovery. I feel that, in spite of my age, then 67, my positive attitude was helpful in being selected as a heart transplant candidate. I can say with complete honesty that it never passed though my mind that I would not receive a transplant and that surgery would not be a success. Sailing is my passion, but increasing the number of registered donor is my mission.”

Click here to read more details about Captain Ardell Lien's circumnavigation after a heart and kidney transplant.

Dr. Dave

Captain Dave - David J. Abbott M.D.





Exit Only

See what it's like for a family to sail around the world on a small catamaran

Captain Save Our Souls

Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.

Red Sea Blues

Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.

Red Sea Chronicles Trailer

If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 1 - When Flying Fish Attack

Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 2 - Pirate Alley

Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 3 - Aden, Yemen

Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 4- Gate of Sorrows and Sandstorms

After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.

Save A Tree Bookstore

Although I like the feel of a paper book in my hand, I love trees even more. When people purchase an eBook, they actually save trees and save money as well. Ebooks are less expensive and have no negative impact on the environment. All of Dr. Dave's books are available at Save A Tree Bookstore. Visit the bookstore today and start putting good things into your mind. It's easy to fill your mind with positive things using eBooks. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can pull out your smart phone or tablet and start reading. You can even use electronic highlighters and make annotations in your eBooks just like paper books.