FIRST YOU THINK IT, AND THEN YOU DO IT
During Gulf War One, we were hunkered down in Saudi Arabia playing
Riyadh roulette. Nearly every night after the sun went down, the air
raid sirens would sound, and Scud missiles came into Riyadh. We would
head for our "safe room" just in case one of the scuds hit nearby. The
first scud that came into Riyadh made the windows in our house rattle,
and that was enough motivation for us to take a six week vacation from
the war. After eleven nights of scuds, we were evacuated out of Riyadh
to Torrejon, Spain by military aircraft. From Torrejon, we flew on
commercial aircraft back to the USA.
Things have a way of working out in my life. I explain it to people
like this: it's as if I fall through a trap door backward and
blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back, and I land on my feet and
keep on walking. That's exactly what happened to us when we arrived in
the USA. We took a war and converted it into a family adventure. It was
time for the Miami Boat Show, and we made tracks to Miami Beach to troop
We checked out the multihulls at the boat show, and we found a spacious
Privilege 39 catamaran. We inspected every nook and cranny on board and
immediately sensed that we were on the threshold of a new adventure.
This sea going catamaran looked totally bullet proof, it was certified
for offshore voyaging, and we knew that it was up to the task of taking
a family of four around the world.
When we left the boat show, I had a clear picture in my mind of us
sailing around the world in a Privilege 39 catamaran. I had never
sailed on multihulls before, so I chartered a Privilege 39 in the
British Virgin Islands to see what it would be like to cruise on a cat.
For an entire week, we sailed through the BVI, shooting video and taking
photos of our short adventure.
When we returned to Riyadh, I looked at that video footage hundreds of
times visualizing what it would be like to circumnavigate in a Privilege
39. I finally took a leap of faith and ordered a new Privilege 39 from
the factory in France. I committed myself to step out in the direction
of my dreams regardless of the consequences.
After I ordered the catamaran, I continued working in Riyadh for another
year to finish paying it off. Then I quit my job and set sail on the
ocean of my dreams.
First I thought about buying a catamaran, and then I did it.
First I thought about sailing around the world, and then I did it.
That's the way adventures happen. First you think it, and then you do
Click on this button to
tell your friends about "Offshore Multihull".
I have a confession to make. I am addicted to downwind sailing. I have
persistent, unremitting, constant, unrelenting downwind dreams that will
not go away.
To my knowledge, there is only one way to treat this addiction. You
have to purchase a cruising sailboat and sail downwind on the ocean of
As a physician, I have seen many destructive addictions ruin the lives
of countless victims. I have seen more lives destroyed by alcohol than
any other drug. It's a slow and painful addiction that usually takes
years to destroy a life. Now that I am back in the USA, I have been
seeing patients addicted to methamphetamine, which requires only a year,
maybe two, to destroy a life. One dose of meth, and you are addicted,
and in a couple of years you are dead. It blows me away to see lives
ruined by drugs.
So, are their any positive addictions out there? You bet. Once you get
trade wind sailing into your blood, it will change your life forever.
Furthermore, every day of trade wind sailing adds days, weeks, maybe
even years to your life. Its salubrious effect gets your endorphins
flowing, and you experience a natural high. It puts a smile on your
face, and you know that life is good.
If you allow this addiction to take over, your life becomes an awesome
adventure. You point the bow of your boat in a westward direction, and
before you know it, you will have sailed in the trade winds all the way
around the world.
I am not a drug dealer, but I am a dealer in dreams. So take my
advice. Try it. You'll like it.
There's no limit to how good your life can become when you sail down
wind on the ocean of your dreams.
COOK'S LOOK AT
This is the anchorage at Lizard Island. We spent several days here as
we sailed in the wake of Captain Cook along the Ozzie coast. Here is
the story of Captain Cook and Lizard Island.
Captain Cook almost lost his ship, the Endeavor, as he sailed up the
Australian coast inside the Great Barrier Reef. He was exploring
uncharted waters, and on 10 June, 1770 he ran out of luck when the
Endeavor struck a reef. The reef rose steeply from the seabed and was
undetectable until it was too late. The ship started taking on water and
was in danger of sinking. On the positive side, the Endeavor struck the
reef at high tide, and that meant there was time to deal with the breach
in the hull as the tide went out. Cook's crew lightened ship by
throwing heavy canons and stores overboard, so that when high tide
returned they might be able to float off the reef. They manned their
emergency pumps, and created a type of collision mat to put on the
outside of the hull to stem the leak. They ran out kedge anchors, and
worked furiously to prepare to refloat Endeavor at high tide. All of
the work paid off, because eventually they kedged off the reef and their
temporary hull patch controlled the flow of water so they did not sink.
After they escaped from the reef, they sailed north to the mouth of a
large river where they careened their ship and made repairs. It turned
out that in spite of their bad luck, good fortune had smiled on the
Endeavor because a large fist sized piece of coral had penetrated the
hull and lodged in the hole, sealing the breach to a significant
degree. If the coral hadn't lodged in the hull, it 's likely the
Endeavor would have sunk.
After completing repairs, Cook sailed north searching for an opening
that would let him navigate eastward through reef strewn waters and
back into the Coral Sea. Unfortunately, Cook didnít know how far north
the Great Barrier Reef extended since he was voyaging in uncharted
waters. It turned out that the reef is nearly 1200 miles long. In
addition, ships like the Endeavor did not sail well to windward, and to
escape, Captain Cook needed to sail against the prevailing trade winds.
As he continued north along the Ozzie coast, he finally came to Lizard
Island which turned out to be his salvation. Lizard has a good
anchorage, and best of all, it's high enough to give an excellent view
of the reef for miles in all directions. He spent a couple of hours
climbing to the top of Lizard, and when he surveyed the reef to the
east, to his great relief, he found a break in the reef through which he
could safely take his ship. All he had to do was wait for good weather
and a favorable wind, and he would escape the clutches of the Great
When you climb to the top of the
island today, a monument points your eyes in the direction of Cookís
passage through the reef. Take your binoculars to the top of the hill
in the afternoon, and with the sun to your back, you will easily see
Cook's escape route. If you want to sail in the wake of Captain Cook,
just sail through the break in the reef as you head out into the Coral
Sea on your own voyage of discovery.
Sailing in the
wake of explorers like Captain Cook encourages me to live my dreams.
Captain Cook had no end to adversity in his life, but he always did what
the had to do as he sailed on the ocean of his dreams.
You and I are just like Captain Cook. If we are going to live our
dreams, there will be no end to adversity in our lives. We may as well
expect it and get used to it. There's a hundred percent chance that we
are going to hit a few reefs, and we will need to make emergency repairs
more than once as we navigate through our life. But that's ok. After
all, we are on a voyage of discovery, and we are sailing in uncharted
waters. If we live as if our dreams are possible and work each day to
make them happen, we will find an opening in our barrier reefs, and
before long, we will be sailing downwind on the ocean of our dreams.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.