Voyage of Traveler / Blog

October 25, 2010

The Voyage of Traveler came to a spectacular finish on July 3

Newport Beach, CA
October 14, 2010                                      Be sure to view Traveler’s links to Picasa photo gallery

Ahoy, Traveler Family and Friends,

The Voyage of Traveler came to a spectacular finish on July 3 when we completed a three-year circumnavigation by crossing our out-bound track and sailing into Newport Harbor.

What a wonderful celebration it was, with Traveler a riot of color, proudly flying the flags from the 61 countries we visited on six continents. We had many friends on a dozen boats come out to the harbor entrance and join us for a short boat parade, honking their horns and shouting out,
with the Harbor Department’s fire boat spraying water and leading the way to the Balboa Yacht Club. At the BYC Scott Schubert organized the Homecoming Party with about 150
family and friends joining in a cheerful (and for me, a tearful) champagne toast. Please check out the Traveler website ( and click on the link, through Picasa, to the YouTube video of our Homecoming.

I was so thankful to have Barbara back on board for the final leg, and really needed her for the rough ride up the coast, aptly called the Baja Bash. Barbara has been so much more than my girlfriend since we met on Transpac 2005–the best five years of my life! She was also my partner and co-captain on this voyage, and she was deeply missed when she had to go back to teaching–after sailing with me more than two-thirds of the way around the world. Thank you, Barbara, for everything.

I had much to think about as Barbara, my son Brian and I made our final passage up Baja California. It was truly an emotional cocktail for me: a shot of accomplishment, to be sure, as we approached our home port and could “smell the barn,” plus a double shot of relief as the reality started to sink in that we made it. We sailed through harm’s way so many times, without serious problems. But that mixed drink of emotions also came with a dash of melancholy. It’s strange, but just as much as I wanted to finish the circumnavigation, I also did not want my life’s dream to come to end.

I have much to be thankful for, and want to take a moment to express my appreciation to all those who joined us on the Voyage of Traveler and made it possible–call it an early Thanksgiving. First, all those who helped me re-fit Traveler in the Spring of ‘07 and get her ready to go to sea: to name a few, Bob Kieding (yacht broker), Ventura Harbor Boatyard, Lido Boat Yard, Ullman Sails, Peter at Forespar, Mark Silvey, Spectra Watermaker, Craig at Maurer Marine, Shea Weston, and of course Barbara and her friends Diane, Sue and Cat for all the provisioning, and Barbara’s
brother Gary for logisitical support in his dinghy at the start of Transpac. I also want to thank Bis Houssels, Harry Wallace and Richard Higbie for all their help while I was gone; and special thanks to my Voyage Of Traveler webmaster and email postman, Jim Palmer.

Next, I want to thank the Transpac Crew: Barbara Burdick, Scott Schubert, Dave Beek, Jim Palmer, Kathy Smith, Philip LaPlante, and Kurt Roll. What an awesome experience, with
all the ups and downs, as we raced across the Pacific Ocean together for 2,250 nautical miles and smiles. And we trophied, placing second in class!

I also want to thank all the other crew who joined us for a leg or two, making it a more fun and memorable voyage. In chronological order: Robbie Buck (Hawaiian Islands), Dan Bornholdt and Larry Sharpless (Hawaii to Tahiti and for Larry also across the Atlantic from Canary Islands to St.
Lucia), my sisters Melissa McLeod and Dana Stewart (Moorea to Huahine), Barbara’s sister-in-law Leslie and niece Claire (Raiatea and Tahaa), Dave La Montagne (Raiatea to
Bora Bora), Dave Lee (Tonga to Fiji), Filippo and Emma (a backpacking hitchhiking couple, from Vanuatu to Australia), Susan and Sue (Bali), Yansen (Bali to Singapore, and again Tangier to Jamaica), my Mom and Stepdad, Chris and Bobby (Singapore and again Sorrento to Rome), Brandon (another backpacking hitchhiker, from Singapore to Aden), my son Scott (with his friends Natalie, Christina and Jillian in Greece, and then again in Mexico), Barbara’s friend Teresa
Torti in Greece, my daughter Kellie (with her friends Amy and Priscilla from Croatia to Italy,and again in the Caribbean from St. Martin to Cartagena), Jake Kalwitz (Nice, France
to Tangier, Morocco), my sister Melissa (for her second leg on Martinique, Dominica and Guadelope, and her third leg with Charlie and Eliza from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico), my brother Drew (St. Lucia, Martinique and Dominica), Bill and Marsha Horsfall (Panama Canal), and my nephew Ryan (Puerta Vallarta to La Paz).

Also, a very special thank you to my son Brian, who was a huge part of the voyage, with three long legs: from Waikiki, Oahu across the Pacific Ocean to Papeete, Tahiti; then from Singapore across the Indian Ocean to Aden, Yemen; and finally from Nice, France through the Med, across the Atlantic Ocean, all through the Caribbean and transiting the Panama Canal, and then up the Pacific Coast all the way back to Newport Beach. How many 21-year-olds can say they have sailed across three oceans and visited 40 countries?

We have about 2,000 photos. I selected the Best 50 Photos for each of the three years, and posted them on the website. I hope you enjoy them.
I learned much, about my boat, the world and myself. As my crew member Larry Sharpless said to me as we were crossing the Atlantic together, “Michael, it’s only after you finish this voyage around the world that you will have the required experience to do such a thing.”

In the previous two or three Postcards, as we were beating our way up from Cabo San Lucas, you may recall I wrote that the “End Is Near.”

Well, after 31,145 nautical miles, as my final log entry I report to you, both sadly and joyously, that the Endless Summer of the Voyage of Traveler, as all good things, has come to a successful and glorious end.

We did it. We lived the dream.

Michael Lawler

P. S. What’s next? Hmmmm….
It is back to work. I need to replenish the cruising kitty. But Barbara and I are considering sailing to Hawaii on Transpac ‘11, which starts July 4, 2011. I’m working with a video producer to put together a mini-documentary about our voyage.

1 Comment »

  1. So proud of you, Michael! (And of you, too, Barbara, and Brian!) Ever since I can remember, Michael, you were always doing really cool and crazy things. This was definitely the coolest and probably also the craziest :-) I’m so proud to have been able to take part in this incredible journey. Love you!

    Your little sis

    Comment by Dana — October 29, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

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