I'VE GOT TRADE WIND DREAMS
For the past thirty years, I have had Trade Wind Dreams.
I'm not sure when they started. Perhaps it all began when I was in college, and I read in National Geographic of the adventures of the sixteen year old circumnavigator Robin Lee Graham who took four years to sail single-handed around the world.
No doubt that started me thinking about sailing around the world - circumnavigating the globe in a yacht is one of the final frontiers still available and affordable to the common man. It planted an idea in my mind requiring nearly half a life time to take root and fully blossom.
I started reading sailing magazines when I was in medical school, and that stoked the fire of desire, but as yet I had never gone sailing or even set my foot on a sailboat.
By the time I graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, I was ready for a major life change, and my internship gave me the opportunity to make that change.
I selected an internship at Gorgas Hospital in the Panama Canal Zone. This was the perfect place to fan the flames of sailing desire into a burning passion.
Every cruiser who sailed around the world had to pass through the Panama Canal unless they went south around Cape Horn to get around South America.
During that internship year, I saw hundreds of cruisers transiting the canal, and I discovered that the majority of them were ordinary people with extraordinary dreams. Although most of them lived on a tight budget, it didn't stop them from living their trade wind dreams.
It was there I went sailing for the first time with my good friend, Dr. Tom Walker and his wife Bette Lee. There were relatively novice sailors at the time, but they had a boat and cruising dreams as well. They took me out on their schooner, and I was hooked. My trade wind dreams became a life long obsession.
In Panama I purchased my own small twenty-two foot sailboat and learned how to sail.
Unfortunately, my boat healed up to thirty degrees when I sailed to windward, and my wife and I discovered that sailing on an angle was tiring, wet, and sometimes scary.
At the same time, we met a new breed of sailors voyaging on homebuilt catamarans and trimarans. Some of these do it yourself multihulls looked like they were built by amateurs, but others were well designed and beautifully finished, and they sailed flat and fast, perfect for trade wind dreams.
Toward the end of my internship, I told my friend Tom that someday I would sail around the world on a multihull.
That is one of the few prophecies in my life that I got right, but then even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so I not going to get a big head over predicting a multihull circumnavigation that happened thirty years later.
From that point on, for the next three decades, trade wind dreams dominated my life.
Those dreams were put on hold while I was doing an ophthalmology residency and becoming a board certified ophthalmologist at the University of Kentucky. Nevertheless, even in land-locked Kentucky, I had a twenty-two foot trailerable sailboat that I used on weekends, and that helped keep my trade wind dreams alive.
Once I was a fully qualified eye surgeon, I called up the Navy to see if they could help me with my trade wind dreams.
I told them if they gave me an assignment at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico, I would join the navy.
They agreed to the proposal, and I spent the next five years working and sailing in Puerto Rico. I even purchased my dream ship, a Westsail 32 Colin Archer heavy displacement yacht.
It was built for the trades, and gave me the opportunity to gain more experience in trade wind voyaging. When the Caribbean winds were cranked up and blowing hard, I could run downwind at eight knots in my dreamboat. My five years in Puerto Rico kept my trade winds dreams burning bright..
After those five years in the navy, I faced a major choice.
Go cruising with my wife and two young children, living and sailing on a shoestring, or shift gears and go to work in Saudi Arabia.
I put my cruising dreams on hold, performed a fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery, and then spent the next eleven years working as a retinal surgeon at King Khalid Eye Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Eleven years in Riyadh did not snuff out my cruising dreams. Instead, I used those years to increase my navigational skills while traveling in remote sections of the Arabian desert. I used a bubble aircraft sextant to take star sights, noon sights, and moon sights out in the desert. I became comfortable navigating through a sea of sand so that one day I could confidently navigate the seven seas as I lived my trade wind dreams.
In 1991, the Gulf War rearranged my life.
For the first ten days of the war, skud missles rained down on Riyadh every night as soon as the sun went down.
The thunder of exploding skuds made our windows rattle, and it seemed like a good time to take a six week vacation.
After eleven nights of Riyadh roulette, we bailed out of town on an evacuation flight to Torrejon, Spain, and then on to the USA. As serendipity would have it, the Miami boat show was in session, and we drove to Miami and attended the show.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I trooped the docks at the boat show. Right before my eyes there were cruising catamarans on display, and it was love at first sight.
The biggest boat in the show was a Privilege 39 catamaran that was thirty-nine feet five inches long and twenty one feet wide. It was a mind boggling trade wind dream machine, and I could see myself sailing around the world in this powerful catamaran.
Now I knew what I had to do. I flew back to Riyadh, saved my money, and ordered a Privilege 39 catamaran.
Two years later I put my family on board Exit Only and we started our sailing voyage around the world.
When I left Riyadh, I left with an exit only visa in my passport - an exit only visa is like a one way ticket. It means you are leaving and not coming back because you are moving on to other things. That's why we named our catamaran Exit Only.
We were exit only and we were sailing our trade wind dreams around the world. And it's been an awesome adventure.
We visited more than thirty-two countries as we sailed on an eleven year circumnavigation of the globe. We sailed in the trade winds across the Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean.
The picture (above) shows our trade wind cruising rig.
It consists of twin headsails poled out to port and starboard with eighteen foot spinnaker poles. We can run our double headsail rig for weeks at a time. Our autopilot steers the boat effortlessly day after day, and we get to enjoy the ride. We sailed in the wake of Columbus, Magellan, and Captain Cook as we imagined what it was like to circle the globe hundreds of years ago in square riggers as they lived their trade wind dreams.
Trade wind dreams have been around for a long time. The worked for me, and they will work for you. Give it some thought. Maybe you might get infected with the trade winds virus, and before you know it, you'll be on your way, sailing downwind around the world. Trade wind dreams never die.
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.
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.
If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Join Team Maxingout as they sail through Pirate Alley and up the Red Sea
See what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before you spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one
After watching the Red Sea Chronicles you will be able to see yourself sailing on the ocean of your dreams
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