AROUND THE WORLD (Again) By Cpt. Martyn Walker
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Next stop Australia, with a fuel stop in Bali to say hi to Made Girip, an old friend and the agent from my Turquoise days, we then made good time to Cairns. We cruised all there was to cruise on the Australian East coast in a three week period with great logistical support. It is just such a damned long coast and I never got the photo Richard Morris promised me of the boat and Sydney opera house. Next time! Cairns Slipway under the supervision of Ley James turned us around on a refit of huge proportion in an incredible time and price. Ley and Sarah Beck from Great Barrier Reef yacht services made sure we were treated like royalty, and apart from the brief bad experiences with the awful Bundy rum those Auzzie’s call liquor, the trip was a great success for us and Australian yachting.
Shipyard work complete in Queensland we stopped in Vanuatu, American Samoa and Honolulu on the way back to Seattle. Our arrival was June 20th 2001. We had departed Seattle on June 1st 1999. On our arrival in the Juan de Fuca Straits, and just as we were ready to make the turn South into Puget Sound, I had a phone call from the Owners office saying slow down a helicopter was on the way to take some pictures with the Olympic Mountains in the background. Slow down! 30 miles away from finishing a circumnavigation, 30 miles away from finishing a trans Pacific, Slow down! I will let your imagination tell you how I felt about that. We slowed down.
I had quite a strange feeling after the end of this voyage but was soon again in the fishing grounds of Alaska, which this time was broken up with guest’s trips and charters through British Colombia. Seeing brown bears from the wheelhouse and small icebergs is a fantastic experience so far removed from the normal sights. After a quick visit to Seattle again we sailed south to El Salvador where we were delivered the best ever flower arrangements by a lovely lady whose son had looked the boat up on the internet to enable her to prepare them. We embarked the Owner up a creek. We had to cross a sand bar at the ocean entrance where the surf was on my radar and a little rowboat with a glow stick led the way. A bullet proof car was ready for the airport run, a short trip on a four seater aircraft landing with the same glow sticks to the main airport to greet him made for an interesting pick up. El Salvador to Nicaragua and onto Panama again. We disembarked the Owner after our transit of the Panama Canal, and sailed to Aruba while the Owner took in sights ashore during the three-day trip at sea. We then sailed from Aruba through to Trinidad visiting all islands along the way.
The rest of the winter saw us in the Caribbean’s usual places for charter, and off the beaten track for golf courses with the Owner. Season end saw us back to Florida and some crew, who now had circumnavigation’s under their belts, moved on.
Now ahead was my favorite part of all of the voyages, and the most rewarding leg for me as a captain. We sailed for London and the opening of Tower Bridge for our arrival. It does not get much better than that on a Monday morning! We were assisted by Chris Livett who has his office on HMS Belfast, a battle cruiser museum on the River Thames that I explored many times as a school kid. Chris is a Thames Waterman and his knowledge of the river was fascinating. From England we sailed to the Norwegian Fjords, Sweden, and Denmark through the Scattergat and into the Baltic Sea. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Finland completed our Baltic trip. I could tell stories galore of this trip. none of which I feel should be written. The pilot in Estonia boarded us at the sea buoy and remarked that he had never seen a yacht like ours until that morning when he took Princess Valentina to her berth. Two in one day. We stopped in a place called Visby off the coast of Sweden southbound for fuel due to some offshore duty free rule, and found the Ibiza of the Baltic.
What a fantastic cruise that is. From Helsinki we sailed for Gibraltar and France to embark charters for the last part of the summer season. After routine maintenance we sailed again for the Indian Ocean and Thailand completing charters again in Thai and Myanmar waters for the winter. The plan was to sail for Indonesia and the Philippines but with a two-month charter in the Med secured we returned for the summer. We visited Venice and cruised to Croatia, Montenegro and of all places Albania. Here the JLT agency and Edward worked miracles for our ports and clearances and Albania was strangely enough OK. I had offers of Navy Seal protection, to telexes to say do not come for security reasons, but when we arrived everything went well. The view from the aft deck though was of a pile of scrap metal about 30 feet in the air, not quite Monte Carlo.
From Dubrovnik we sailed to Spain and cruised the milk run for the two-month charter. Any crew who have done a two month charter will know that even if the guests are great, which ours were, you can never really relax. After the charter we sailed two days later to pick up the Owners in Istanbul. This took a lot of strength to get going and to add to our misery we had head seas all the way into the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine. We actually passed the port of Balaclava where I read with interest in the pilot book that the name we use for those wooly head pieces came from the soldiers, in freezing conditions, wearing their socks on their heads with slits for the eyes. From the port of Yalta, a rich Russians retreat, we set sail back to Marseille for some yard work.
Some readers might remember the story I told in Yachting Matters where the Boss decided he was in need of a real curry and we sailed for the port of Bombay. I think next to Shanghai, which I visited on Ambrosia some years ago, Bombay was the most fascinating city to explore. Anchored in front of the Gateway of India the smog would lift occasionally to reveal a huge city. Our agent there, Asshim had me laughing every time we spoke. He would say, ‘if you need anything give me a tinkle’, a great British expression that only my grandmother used meaning phone me. We cruised the Indian coast to Goa where we finally found a curry to challenge all curries, ten pounds lighter! we steamed on to the Maldives. We then sailed for Thailand again to resume our eastward passage.
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