(continued from pg.18)
Earlier, in January 2000, after six months and 7,000 miles, Sabbatical headed through the Panama Canal and crossed from the Atlantic to the Pacific. "When we sailed under the Bridge of the Americas we opened the champagne to celebrate making it to the Pacific, which would be our home for the next six months and 9,000 miles," Susan wrote in her e-mail chronicle of the adventure.
Although Sabbatical endured poor weather in Panama - as well as in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific, Coral, Red and Mediterranean seas - it did not sustain any major damage. But, keeping the boat in good working order during such a long trip seemed to be a full-time job. In fact, upon their return home, the Pobjoys came to the conclusion that the only piece of equipment that wasn't repaired or replaced during the trip was the compass.
Looking back, Graham says that the weather was a surprise. Overall, the wind was not as strong or steady as expected, and while the Pobjoys experienced some storms, only once in the Red Sea were they forced to "put in" to an anchorage for five days due to high winds and rough seas. Graham says that the locals told him that the heavy rains and lack of wind that the sailors were experiencing was "unusual."
Though neither Graham nor Susan can identify a "best" part of the trip, since there were so many, they recall the Galapagos Islands as one of the most amazing places they visited. "Galapagos is truly another world and it's absolutely wonderful," Susan wrote in March 2000. "We snorkeled with sea turtles, sea lions, seals, white tipped sharks, eagle rays, a penguin, and schools and schools of magnificently colored fish...It got to the point that everywhere you looked you saw something incredible." Graham agrees, noting that he would have liked to stay longer in each location.
Susan recalls that the Tuamotus in French Polynesia were probably the best example of what they had expected the trip to be: secluded palm-tree-lined coral atolls that you could only reach by boat, crystal-clear warm water teeming with fish and inhabited only by black pearl fishermen.
In August 2000, Susan's childhood dream of holding a koala came true in Cairns. Her "love affair with Australia," as she calls it, began early in life when her brother gave her a stuffed koala. From then on, she collected a menagerie of them and described Bindy, the koala she held in Cairns, as "heavier than any of the imposters I had grown up with..." Australia also provided the Pobjoys with wonderful scuba diving and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. They even sighted a 50-foot humpback, who they affectionately named "Moby Bruce." Bruce is evidently the only albino whale on the eastern coast of Australia. Luckily they had no close encounters with the infamous estuarine crocodiles.
Heading north through Indonesia, the Pobjoys experienced the "happy chaos" of Bali in October. Though they found the area enchanting and beautiful, Susan wrote, lamenting the mosquitoes and rain, "paradise does have its drawbacks...sleeping was never comfortable...if only lush tropical paradises could be cool and dry."
The best food was found in Thailand, where the Pobjoys spent last Christmas and rang in the New Year. They discovered that their favorite Thai soup, Tom Yam, was slightly different in each area, based on their tradition of sampling it at every meal. Susan describes the fresh spices in Thai curries as "heaven."
When Sabbatical returned to England in June, 727 days after departing, the Pobjoys had traveled 32,894 miles during the course of their circumnavigation. They made 160 stops in 36 different countries, and sent and received close to 10,000 e-mail messages, despite the challenge of finding land lines. Throughout their journey, they tried to participate as much as possible in local life with local people in the lands that they visited.
Would they do it again?
Graham chuckles at the prospect. "It was a fantastic experience," he says, "but once was enough." Given the sailing conditions, the Pobjoys said that they found that arriving at their intended destination was better than the journey and they say that for future journeys they'll keep in mind that there are easier ways to arrive!
At the moment, Graham and Susan are not planning any major trips, as they are moving to California where Susan will resume her work at HP. They plan to eventually retire to the U.K., where they will continue to sail, but at this point Sabbatical, sadly, is up for sale. "Our appetite has been whet in terms of seeing new places and cultures," Graham says. "Next time, we'll take shorter trips and stay longer in each place, possibly even chartering boats in exotic locations. But I'm satisfied regarding the circumnavigation. It's a lifetime experience, to have a dream and work it through to fruition."
"Our lives have been changed by this experience," adds Susan. "We were humbled by the generosity of everyone we met, especially by those who had the least to give. People, no matter what culture or religion, met us as friends, with no preconceived prejudices. They were generally happy with what they had and children shared everything without arguments. What we experienced was a testament to the basic good of mankind. Let's only hope that in the weeks, months and years following the awful events of September 11, this good will continue to prevail."