Voyage of Traveler / Blog

August 23, 2009

Traveler Postcard Monaco, Cap Ferrat, Eze and Nice

Hi, Everyone,

Wow, Monaco was amazing.  So many mega yachts in the harbor, and so many Ferraris, Lambourginis and Rolls Royces driving around town.  We had some great people-watching in front of the Hotel de Paris and the Casino de Monte Carlo.  We passed Kim Bassinger on a flight of stairs at the parking garage for the casino.

In Cap Ferrat, just five miles west, we met up with Barbara’s brother, Charles, who rents a villa there each summer.  He was hosting Barbara’s and his niece, Clare, and her friend Kathryn, and their nephew, James, and his friend Mitch, all age 14.  It was fun for Barbara to see some of her family again, especially here in the heart of the French Riviera.  We all had three lovely dinners together, at Charles’ villa, on board Traveler, then at a waterfront restaurant in neighboring Ville-Franche. We also went to the charming hilltop walled village of Eze to walk around and see one of their festivals.

While enjoying the beaches and village of Cap Ferrat, we also had needed repair work done to the anchor windlass.  It is so easy to take something, like the windlass, for granted until it doesn’t work; then you appreciate how useful it is.  It’s no fun humping by hand 200 feet of chain and then a 60 lbs. anchor up from the bottom and onto the deck.  We also had some other electrical work done and had the five winches cleaned and lubed.

But the big story, sadly, is that Barbara flew home from Nice. She had to return to Southern California to resume teaching, and now I must continue on with the circumnavigation without her.  Barbara had been teaching “at risk” 7th and 8th graders at Paramount School District for ten years when she was granted a two year leave of absence to go on this voyage around the world.  Had she taken a third year off, she would have lost her seniority and there would be no guaranty that she would have a job when she returned, which she considered.  But in this down economy, it is good to have a job.

Together, we sailed more than two-thirds the way around the world, across the vast Pacific and Indian Oceans, and through the Red and Mediterranean Seas.  We saw 29 amazing countries in 25 months.  We, along with our other crew mates, won second place in the Transpac Race.  We rescued fishermen adrift off Niue. We partied with the royal family at the King of Tonga’s Coronation.  We bravely (or foolishly?) stood at the edge of an active volcano on the Island of Tanna as it loudly erupted, with lava bombs flying high over our heads.  We took care of each other as we both were sick with e-coli between East Timor and Bali.  We got within a few feet of huge Komodo dragons and orang-utans in Indonesia.  We ran the gauntlet though Somali pirate infest waters of the Gulf of Aden, and then spent (and actually enjoyed) 21 days in Yemen waiting for a new starter for our engine.  We rode horses and camels at the Sphinx and Great Pyramids in Egypt.  We bumped a reef in Fiji, and nearly sank from high winds and waves washing over the deck in the Red Sea, due to a clogged drain in the anchor locker.  We caught a lot of fish, dove with dolphins and whales, ate a lot of exotic foods and drank a lot of good wine, cold beers and mai tais while watching incredibly gorgeous sunsets.  To be sure, the remaining ten months will be a much different, and much more difficult, voyage without my girlfriend and partner, Barbara.  I miss her much.

On the brighter side, when we dropped Barbara off at the nearby Nice Airport, we picked up my son, Brian, who had just landed and is re-joining Traveler, probably for the rest of the voyage.  Later that same day, Brian’s friend, Jake Kalwitz, joined us as well, probably through the rest of the Med.  And the next day, my daughter, Kellie, also re-joined Team Traveler, and she will sail with us as far as Barcelona, where she must return to California on August 31.  Then my brother, Drew, plans to visit from September 20 to 30 for the south of Spain.  And on October 3 in Tangier, Morocco, we pick up Yansen, our Indonesian friend who sailed with us from Bali to Singapore, and he will be with me for the rest of the voyage.  Lots of crew changes.

I’m counting the days until Barbara will be re-joining Traveler for 21 days at Christmas vacation, while we will be in the Caribbean, and then again over her Easter Week when we transit the Panama Canal.  And then when school is out in mid-June she will meet the boat a third time and we will finish the voyage together on the final leg from Cabo San Lucas to Newport Beach.

Still Livin’ the Dream,
Michael

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