Daring alumna sets sail for parts unknown.
B Y C H R I S T I N E M U R P H Y '00
For Susan (Kienzle) Pobjoy '73 and her huband Graham, boating has always been a favorite pastime.
When Susan was 13 years old, her grandmother won a motorboat on "The Price is Right," a popular T.V. game show, and from then on, her family spent many a vacation on the water. And, while both Susan and Graham had some experience with sailing before they met, they became more serious about it after their marriage. In fact, the couple spent many summers sailing, first in the Mediterranean and then in the waters of the United Kingdom and France, along with their fathers and Graham's two daughters.
But Susan, a native of New York, and Graham, who grew up in England, became true 'salts' when they sailed around the world as part of a two-year journey that began in the summer of 1999. Traveling as part of a group called the Blue Water Rally, the Pobjoys were one of nine yachts to complete the circumnavigation.
Purchased specifically for the trip, their 50-foot Oyster was named Sabbatical, reflecting Susan's two-year leave of absence from Hewlett Packard, which enabled her and her husband to realize their dream.
"It had been a 10-year plan to sail around the world," says Graham. "We were keen travelers to begin with, but this was a bigger challenge than we expected, both physically and emotionally," he said, noting that yachts sailing alone - without a group such as the Rally Ü usually take about five years to complete the circumnavigation. Although at times the boats were as much as 1,000 miles apart, he says the Rally provided support and structure, making sure each boat maintained the tight schedule.
Susan adds that "perhaps the best part of the two years was the camaraderie that sailing together provided. It was a floating community where each boat contributed skills, motivation and support to the others. We've made lifelong friends having been so focused on a common goal and dream."
The Pobjoys' trip began in mid-July in England, as they set sail for Gibraltar, where they would join the Rally. "So far it's been an adventure," Susan wrote at the end of the first month, as they were moored in Villagarcia in northwest Spain, recalling the battery that exploded, a storm, and getting stuck on a rock - all in the first seven days.
"We fell asleep exhausted thinking that if the first week was like this, what was in store during the next two years...?" she continued in one of a series of e-mail messages she would send to her family and friends on dry land during the course of the journey.
Despite any misgivings the couple may have had, they joined the Rally in Gibraltar in mid-October 1999. Graham's niece spent 12 rainy days on board Sabbatical while the boat was in port, one of 42 friends and family members who met up with them along the way. Plus, a total of 25 honorary crewmembers also joined the Pobjoys throughout the trip, sailing different legs of the journey with them. One of the crew was Sarah Henrich '77 who sailed from Panama to Ecuador on board the Sabbatical and was with the Pobjoys when they crossed the equator.