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1. Mom likes to say “the journey is the destination”. She’s right. Although we sailed from point to point on a map, locations were only a skeleton on which to build our adventure.

2. You find what you’re looking for. The cruises who talk about the dangers lurking in each location are invariably the ones who find trouble. Cruisers who make smart decisions and keep a positive attitude somehow manage to find good stuff in the same places and enjoy themselves much more.

3. Cruising is a great investment of time.

4. If I have children, I will take them cruising. They will thank me.

5. There is no shortage of adventure in the world but most of the real ones aren’t easy.

6. For every Paris or Rome there are a thousand hidden corners of the globe where people like you and me make a life. The corners are usually where my favorite memories originate.

7. Cruising let’s you share a back porch with a billionaire. In Turkey we anchored next to a diamond merchant’s 200 foot megayacht for two days. He spent 50 million dollars to visit the same destination as us. Some people buy floating condominiums and some people buy the sailing equivalent of a cargo crate, but we all meet at the same barbecue pit on the beach.

8. There is always something to do on a boat. You are never, ever bored.

9. The Caribbean is high quality cruising. The Bahamas are shockingly beautiful. Who knew there are such awesome destinations so close to the States?

10. Ocean crossing is mostly about persistence. Just point the boat in the right direction, don’t hit anything for a few days, and you’re good to go.

11. Reality TV is stupid.

12. One of my favorite things about cruising is how every day is different. You never know what wrinkles will be thrown into your schedule so you might as well take off your wristwatch.

13. Don’t use pens from the desk of an Immigration officer without asking for permission first.

14. Lost in an arid, desolate land? Shipwrecked on a deserted island? Trapped in a canyon by a pack of hyenas? Never fear. They'll build a new Starbucks at your location within the week.

15. When locals point to the next island as “dangerous”, there are usually people on that island pointing back at them and saying the same thing.

16. Other yachties refer to you by your boat name (for example, if our friends on Duetto were talking about us they might say “Exit Only are brilliant mariners”). Remember this when you get the urge to name your vessel La Cucaracha.

17. There is something wonderfully mysterious about harnessing the wind to travel.

18. Always learn a few phrases in the local language. People appreciate the effort and it’s a great way to make new friends. (NOTE: be sure to know the exact meaning of your newfound phrases before you shout them across crowded rooms at sword-toting strangers)

19. Never overestimate the common sense of charter boats when it comes to anchoring. I don’t want to sound negative but you would not believe some of the stuff we’ve seen in the Caribbean. Usually the accidents happen because they don’t observe the First Rule of Doing Anything on a Boat (see #20).

20. Slow is better than fast. Disasters usually happen because someone is trying to accomplish something too fast. It's similar to operating a chainsaw in this respect.

21. It is OK to say "no, thanks" when pressured to buy something. If the vendor still refuses to acknowledge your right not to part with your hard earned cash, shout newly learned local phrases (NOTE: unless the seller has a which case, buy something from them. Preferably a shield or a larger sword).

22. On the extremely rare occasions when we’ve been pressured for a bribe, a polite “no” has worked. This seems to be the consensus opinion of most cruisers and travelers I know.

23. You find good people wherever you go.

24. God loves every single person on this planet. I know it sounds glib but this thought keeps popping into the forefront of my mind as we travel. That Maldivian lady fishing on the end of the pier? God loves her. The rich Italian punk who ripped by in a speedboat and rocked us with a huge wake? God loves him. The guy in Grenada who snuck onto our boat at night and didn’t see anything worth taking, but left muddy footprints? God loves him. The lady who smiled and gave us extra bread at the market in Sudan? God loves her. The list goes on forever. It is such a mind-blowing idea and it makes me want to treat other people better because we when you get right down to it, we‘re all the same. By the way, God loves you too.

25. Cruising isn‘t always fun. Long night watches, rough passages, boat maintenance, getting trapped on board for days of non-stop rain, living in close proximity with three other adults (two of whom are your parents), lightning storms, relatives who don’t understand, living at the mercy of the weather, frequent discomfort, traveling at speeds which make a snail on a unicycle look fast, and intermittent contact with shore-based friends are all part of the deal. But it’s worth it.

26. All ocean passages include a few hours when ice cream is the sole topic of conversation.

27. It would have been nice to have a freezer on board.

28. A good hat is worth it’s weight in ice cream. I lucked out and found an Australian cowboy hat with enough stiffness and brim width to serve as my personal umbrella.

29. Never trust a strange camel.

30. Every Diet Coke manufacturer uses a slightly different recipe. The flavors range from "Throat-chokingly Harsh" to "Heavenly Nectar". Always check which it is before you buy 12 cases.

31. You know how all the pictures from the 1800s and 1900s show people with serious faces? I guess photographs were too rare to waste on tomfoolery and goofy smiles. Interestingly, many eastern cultures are modern day proponents of “straight faced” photography. People are affable and smiling in conversation until I ask if I can take a photo, whereupon they straighten up and get serious.

It makes me wonder about my natural inclination to act like a goofball whenever anyone points a camera at me. At the very least I usually smile. Why? Am I trying to inject happiness into a memory which might otherwise appear bland? How many times have you seen an arguing couple on vacation stop and smile while a stranger takes their picture, then go right back to arguing? What will they remember of their trip when they look back at their photos?

32. Daily radio nets are a great way to keep morale up on the open ocean. Especially if you are the one with the best fishing story.

33. Humanity has a startling history of warfare. Sometimes I felt like we were touring the world from fortress to fortress. Leading me to my next reflection…..

34. This might not be a popular point of view but I think it is worth considering: How arrogant is it that Europeans (and I include my own ancestry in this category) had the gall to land on islands populated by natives and claim them in the name of their homeland? In school I was taught that European colonial expansion was motivated by “God, gold, and glory”. They achieved these goals thanks to superior military technology (they had the guns).

Imagine if aliens from the nearby Chewbaccan galaxy landed a spaceship on South Beach (in Miami) and claimed Florida as part of the Chewbaccan Republic…never mind the high rise buildings full of Canadians….or the sun-drenched beach revelers angry about the spaceship blocking their sun…or the fact that no one wants to subjugate themselves to a Republic named after a sidekick (“We bow to no one but Han Solo!”). The aliens aren’t concerned because they have energy cannons, sonic blasters, and shields which make them impervious to anything Will Smith or Tom Cruise can do. If the Chewbaccans want Florida, we are helpless to stop them.


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Sometimes when you sail offshore, the horizon disappears, and you can't tell where the water ends, and the heavens begin.  You feel like you are floating in space.  Once you're out of sight of land and the sun goes down, there's blackness beneath you and the Milky Way above.  Billions of galaxies twinkle in the darkness and surround you on all sides.   A feeling of mystery and oneness with the universe descends on you as your yacht sails on through the night.

Did you ever want to leave your earth-bound existence behind and travel in outer space to the far reaches of the galaxy?  I have felt that way too many times to count, and I suspect the thought has crossed your mind as well.  The good news is that you can do it - sort of.  I'll explain how.

When astronauts blast off into orbit on the space shuttle, they end up only a few hundred miles above planet earth.  In the space station they are less than three-hundred miles from the nearest land (directly beneath them).  When I blasted off across the Pacific Ocean in Exit Only, I was fifteen hundred miles from the nearest land as I sailed to French Polynesia.  My crew and I were on our own; there was no mission control to guide us on our way.  Just like the space shuttle, we had to be self-sufficient in all areas.  Although we didn't have to carry oxygen like space travelers, we had to take food, water, and enough survival supplies to last several months in case something went wrong.

I realize Exit Only isn't the Millennium Falcon and that we are traveling at substantially less than the speed of light.  Nevertheless, we are out there on our own in our small part of the Milky Way Galaxy.  The fact that we are floating on the interface between two fluids (water and air) does not diminish the adventure we feel as we travel through near space.  The fact that we are flying at only six knots on our journey does not erase our sense of achievement when we return from near space and place our feet on dry land.


Although most people don't think of themselves as intergalactic travelers, all of us are living on spaceship earth.  Our planet hurtles through the galaxy at  thousands of miles per hour.  When city folks look up in the sky at night they can't see the stars because of the light pollution, and they forget they traveling on a spaceship.  Sailor are different.  When sailors look up in the night sky, they know that they are space travelers immersed in the Milky Way.


Just because you're not riding in the space shuttle doesn't mean you are not an astronaut.  Every time you weigh anchor and sail into the unknown, you blast off in your spaceship.  An astronaut in the space shuttle and a sailor on a dark night at sea both see the same thing.  Although the astronaut is in near space, and the sailor in nearer space, both of them see millions of miles in every direction with their naked eyes.

Those of you who feel like your life is going nowhere need to go out in wilderness far from the cities and look up into the night sky.  You will instantly understand what I'm talking about.  You'll forget about your woes, and a sense of awe will overwhelm your heart and mind, because you too are a space traveler.  You might even give up your land-locked existence and explore the galaxy in a spaceship of your own.  Just raise your sails and point the bow of your small ship toward the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, and before long, near space will be your home.


Space travel....... I love it.

Life is good.






Look up in the sky.  It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Spreaderman.  Don't think I'm confused.  It's definitely not Superman or Spiderman up in the rigging.  It's Spreaderman standing on our mast spreaders guiding us through the coral reef as we sail the turquoise waters of Coral World.  Whenever we do shallow water sailing, we always put out a call to Spreaderman to keep us out of trouble.

This is what Spreaderman is looking for when we come into an anchorage.  He wants turquoise water in all directions as far as his eye can see.  As long as the water is totally turquoise, there will be no rocks or reefs to ruin our day.  This anchorage in Conception Island in the Bahamas has scattered coral heads that could punch a hole in our hull if we don't pay attention to where we are sailing as we approach the island.  The water between the two sailboats in this picture is between eight and fifteen feet deep, and there are no brown coral heads in sight.

This water is four to five feet deep over a white sand bottom.  When I anchor in water like this, words like paradise start popping into my mind.

When Spreaderman looks down, he is checking the color of the water; dark brownish patches are rocks or reefs, greenish patches are sea grass, and turquoise is sandy seabed.  Isolated patches of coral are called coral heads or "bommies".  On the right side of this picture, you are in paradise, and on the left side you are in purgatory or worse.  If you run into this reef day or night, it could be the end of your voyage.

You can't see coral reefs when the sun is directly in front of you.  The reflected sunlight  blinds you to the presence of dangerous reefs.  That's why you only enter tropical anchorages with the sun high overhead or behind you.  Thousands of boats have  been lost when they sailed directly onto a reef they couldn't see because the sun was in front of them.

If this what Spreaderman sees from his perch on the mast, something has gone badly wrong.  The yacht is surrounded by coral heads, and it's time to back up, slowly and straight, to avoid disaster.


We stand on the spreaders rather than using a true crow's nest on the mast.  We got an estimate in Australia to see how much it would cost to construct a real crow's nest, and they reckoned it would require about a thousand dollars to fabricate and install one.    That's big money to spend on an item that will only be used when navigating in coral.  That's why we use our spreaders as our poor man's crow's nest.

I installed fold-out mast steps all the way to the top of my fifty foot mast.  Those steps are the stairway used by Spreaderman as he navigates Exit Only through coral in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and South Pacific.

When it's time to go aloft for a look, Spreaderman folds out the mast steps and climbs to the first set of spreaders one-third of the way up the mast.  From twenty-five feet above the water, it easier to detect coral reefs and bommies that lie dead ahead.  His elevated point of view prevents Exit Only from getting boxed into coral traps.


When you anchor among coral heads, you need to look around your boat for 360 degrees to make sure there are no bommies that could cause a problem if you drag anchor or if the the wind or tide shifts during the night.  When it's pitch black on a moonless night, there's no way to tell the location of the coral heads.  Coral reefs don't move, but boats drag anchor and swing their position with changes in wind and tide, and prudent mariners make sure there are no threatening coral heads in the vicinity of where they drop their anchor.


When you make a mistake, God forgives you, but coral does not.  Coral punishes you relentlessly for every mistake you make, and it punishes you in the middle of the night during your time of greatest vulnerability.

So what do you do when you anchor in coral?  Call Spreaderman, and let him take the worry out of Coral World.  After all, there's nothing more beautiful than putting your anchor down in six feet of crystal clear turquoise water, and when Spreaderman makes sure you're not near any coral heads, you know beyond all doubt that life is good.






Captain Dave and his family spent eleven years sailing around the world on their Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only. During the trip, the crew of Exit Only shot 200 hours of video with professional cameras to show people what it's like to sail on a small boat around the world.

The Red Sea Chronicles is a one hour and twenty-two minute feature film showing their adventures as Exit Only sails through Pirate Alley in the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea.  The professional footage documents their experiences in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and the Suez Canal.  It chronicles the rigors of traveling in a remote section of the world rarely visited by cruisers.  Exit Only dodges Yemeni pirates, fights a gale and sand storms in the Bab al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.  The crew explores deserted islands on the western shores of the Red Sea, and learns to check the cruising guides for land mines before venturing ashore.

The Red Sea Chronicles also has outstanding Special Features including an Instructional Video on Storm Management that tells sailors how to deal with storms at sea.

And don't forget the two Music Videos: "The Red Sea Blues", and "Captain - Save Our Souls".

The Red Sea Chronicles is a first class adventure that stokes the sailing dreams of both experienced and wannabe sailors alike.  Order your copy of the Red Sea Chronicles and experience the adventures of Exit Only as they sail around the world and up the Red Sea.

Meet The Crew

Dave Abbott - Captain

Captain Dave always dreamed of sailing around the world on his own sailboat, and his eleven year circumnavigation with his family made his dream come true.

Donna Abbott - First Mate

Donna earned her stripes the REALLY old fashioned enduring the rigors of passage making for the thrill of exploring exotic ports across the globe.


Sarah Abbott - Deck Swab

Sarah is the newest member of the family and crew. Despite her limited sailing experience, she jumped right in to life on the high seas. Her fresh and enthusiastic perspective on cruising help make the Red Sea Chronicles so special.


David Abbott - Cameraman/Director/Editor/Narrator/Composer

David shot over 170 hours of footage on the voyage from Australia to Florida. He then spent a year and a half on dry land editing and producing the Red Sea Chronicles DVD. In addition to the narrating the film, David also scored, performed, and recorded the entire soundtrack for the project.


Wendy Abbott - Voice of Ninja Crab

Wendy is the daughter of Capt Dave and Donna. She sailed on Exit Only from Florida to New Zealand. Wendy guest stars as the voice of a Ninja Hermit Crab in the Red Sea



10. The Red Sea Chronicles is an affordable CHRISTMAS gift for the sailor in my life.  Where else can I get a totally awesome gift for only twenty bucks?  
 9. I work hard for a living, and I deserve to reward myself with the Red Sea Chronicles.  
 8. My Dream Machine could use a shot in the arm, and the Red Sea Chronicles will give it the boost that it needs.  
 7. Every minute spent watching The Red Sea Chronicles extends my life by a full year.  
 6. I want to see what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before I spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one.  
 5. I want to see how a catamaran handles in heavy weather.  
 4. I want to see the Storm Management video so I understand what I need to do when I get in a storm at sea.  
 3. If I buy The Red Sea Chronicles, then Maxing Out Media will start production on two new DVD's - Australia to the Red Sea, and Med Sea to the Caribbean.  
 2. I like the Maxing Out web site, and I would like to support the website by purchasing their DVD.  
 1. After watching the Red Sea Chronicles, I can finally see myself sailing on the ocean of my dreams.


"Story, quality, music, people, boat... Just excellent."

e got the DVD yesterday and watched it last night (we had no problem with the different format at all), what a great adventure and well put together DVD it was entertaining as well as informative and funny at times, a great combination. Well done you guys are natural movie stars, Laura and I watched the DVD twice and I am sure we will watch it many more times in the future."

I hope you guys are going to make more DVD’s of your previous sailing trips for us to enjoy."

"Amazing...Just watched your dvd The Red Sea Chronicles for the third time today...I called my boss at home and turned in my notice...I'm going sailing!"

"The best cruising video to date from any source and should be on the shelf of every one who shares the cruising spirit even if only in dreams."

"...a great video that transported me from a damp, cold day in Wales to cruising aboard Maxing Out in the Red Sea - pure nectar."

"The only "problem" is that this has left me wanting more of the same stuff, just from some of the other places Maxing Out has visited!"

"Thumbs up. I also wish the entire circumnavigation was documented, but this small portion in the Red Sea is excellent. Well done."

I just watched the Red Sea Chronicles and second what all the others have said. I'd love to see a whole series of Maxing Out DVDs...Good job!"

Red Sea Chronicles DVD Previews


The Red Sea Chronicles is now available!

    We are attacked by flying fish as we cross the Indian Ocean on our way to Salalah, Oman. When we make landfall, the local suq (market) helps us regain our land legs.


  The riskier side of world cruising. In this episode we prepare to sail through "Pirate Alley" in the Gulf of Aden


We arrive in Aden with a damaged alternator and are delighted to find a superb local machine shop. As we prepare to leave, fellow cruisers are attacked by pirates.

  We must sail through the notorious Bab el Mandeb (Gate of Sorrows) to enter the Red Sea. 50 knot winds and relentless sandstorms are ready and waiting on the other side




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Blue Water






Storm Management Offshore
Parachute Sea Anchor Chainplates
When To Deploy Chutes and Drogues

The Almost Never Fail Catamaran Anchoring System
How Big Should Your Anchor Be?
Far Horizons
Tsunami Damage - The Starboard Bow Takes A Licking
Everywhere, Everything
Go West Young Man - Seasteading
Beam Me Up Scotty

Ten Reasons Why Night Sailing Rocks
When Are You Coming Home?

Sailing to Borneo to See Wild Orangutans
Double Headsail Downwind Sailing
Grand Schemes And Other Important Things
Rigging Emergency Prevented - Listening To Your Boat

Dreams Do Come True
I Have A Dream

I Am Wandering, But Not Lost
Missing Out
The Facts of Life

Red Sea Rigors and Rumors
Never Surrender Your Dreams
Red Sea Sunsets

Exit Only Survives the Global Tsunami
The Sea Is So Big and My Ship Is So Small

34 Things I Learned in 33,000 Miles
Space Travel

Ten Disasters I Was Afraid Of That Never Happened
Kissing Cobras

Pirates of The Malacca Straits
The Tree That Wanted To Eat My Boat

Offshore Dream Machine for Circumnavigation
The Facts of Life Rafts

Surviving the Savage Seas
Abbott Drogue - Adjustable Medium Pull Drogue
You Must Know The Sea

Listen to the Sound of Your Dreams
Clouds Are a Sailor's Friend

Exit Only
Life Is Good
Getting Connected

First You Think It, And Then You Do It
My Addiction
Cook's Look at Lizard Island

I've Got Trade Wind Dreams
Storms Come and Go
Go Ahead.  Live Your Dreams.
The Next Step

Take Care of Your Autopilot So It Takes Care of You
Danger Zones On Board Exit Only

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