Contemplating Cruising
San Diego, California
July 9, 2000

By Lois Joy            

This Sunday, as we make our preparations to leave for France later this week, to visit the Catana factory for the first time, we are contemplating the reasons behind our goal of circumnavigating the globe under sail.

We have been asked why we set a goal of circumnavigation instead of just cruising awhile first, testing the waters. Gunter and I just stare at each other and shake our heads. We never discussed an intermediate step. It has never occurred to us. Why sail the world? Because it’s there!At one point during the past five years—we don’t even remember exactly when--we talked about having a goal for our retirement. This goal came to us immediately and we have never looked back. In fact, it was the only goal we even talked about! We have never questioned our decision.

We had already taken many bareboat chartering vacations by the time we set our goal.   Now, we would go on to approach our free time more seriously.   We took a ten-day ocean cruising & navigation course through John Neal, sailing a 1000-mile course as paying crew from Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, to Pago Pago, American Samoaâ including delightful shore breaks at Palmerston and Niue.  We regarded that trip as our basic training.
Photo: John Neal

We spent over two years in the selection of the ideal cruising vessel to suit our needs, progressing from various monohull designs to Cats, and then to the Catana 431.   Recently, Pacific Bliss came out of the mold and by the time we see her for the first time, she will have begun her metamorphosis from a tub of Kevlar into a real yacht!

We are planning on sea trials in Perpignan in October and then plan to sail for Gibraltar and the Canaries, targeting our crossing of the Atlantic for mid-November. We have shipped 18 boxes of supplies to “Yacht in Transit”—ranging from galley equipment, bedding, books and CDs, to piloting books and over 40 charts for Voyage 1. This dream of ours is becoming very real.

Today, I am taking some time away from the rush of preparatory activities to examine our feelings and emotions.

We are beginning to realize that, in addition to the fun and challenges of navigation and sailing, visiting new lands, and experiencing cultures very different from ours, we will be undertaking an inner journey as well. We will be sailing the vast oceans of our inner consciousness—much of it unexplored, we suspect. This journal will document both journeys. Shipments to the Pacific Bliss library have included the typical array of geography books and tales of others’ adventures on land and sea. But they have also included The Bible, the Parallel New Testament, many works of C.S. Lewis, as well as a critique of Lewis and Schaeffer, “Lessons for a New Century” by Burson and Wallis, which I look forward to delving into. Gunter has added an extensive collection of philosophy books, ranging from Schopenhauer and Nietzsche to Seneca. I look forward to stimulating reading, discussions and debate on board Pacific Bliss. I also look forward to thinking, feeling, slowing down a little, and centering myself again, after the breathtaking pace of the corporate world.

So, another reason for cruising—in addition to the flip answer, “Just because it’s there”—is to learn to go with the flow, and in doing so, to change and grow internally. We will be sailing the vast oceans of our inner consciousness as well.

Another reason is to journal through the grief process. Leaving our business was for us, like giving up a child (or having a child kidnapped). “Time heals all wounds,” it is said. And journaling helps to put it all into perspective.

And then there’s the joy of discovery. There is a whole new world out there for us, waiting to be explored. There is more out there than our own small space. Out there, beyond the seas and over the horizon, lies excitement, freshness, new people, places and cultures—the unknown. I want to sew strands of different cultures into my own character. I want to challenge my preconceptions and most cherished views, rethink my assumptions, and to become more understanding in the process. I want to know the unknown

I believe that the values of courtesy, justice, love, and honor are common throughout the world, but they can be differently handled and almost unrecognizable when one enters a foreign land. I want to learn how these fundamental human values translate themselves in the ports we visit.

The challenge of fulfilling our dream is certainly another reason to go.  Being Type A personalities (which may change) we have always been goal-oriented.

To sail around the world in a Cat is a different kind of travel goal.  It goes beyond mere traveling to distant lands.  It carries with it mental and physical challenges, along with adventure. This fits us.

Also, fitting in with this goal of sailing is our mutual love for the water. In San Diego, our home overlooks Sail Bay (part of the Mission Bay waterway) and on a clear day—such as today—I can catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean shimmering beyond the bay. And in the evening, we have a 180- degree, west-facing view of the sun setting over the Pacific.

Two-thirds of our planet is covered with water. It sloshes in the rivers and lakes. It covers the north and south poles. It falls from the sky. It forms the foundation of the origins of life and humanity on earth. There is no dry land until God separates the “water under the expanse from the water above it” and commands that “the water under the sky be gathered into one place.” Water is central to the birthing myths of native Americans, Polynesians, Indians, Russians, and Asians. Water is primordial. It is healing. It soothes the soul.

But water is also on the move. “Rivers flow, oceans gyrate, clouds congeal and weep; over the course of three millennia, a volume of water equivalent to all of the oceans is recycled through the atmosphere. Yet remarkably, at any moment less than one-thousandth of 1 percent of the planet’s total water resides in the atmosphere, just enough to deposit a single inch of rain throughout the world if it fell uniformly,” according to Life’s Matrix—a Biography of Water by Phillip Ball.


And finally, there is the sense of freedom the open ocean brings.  In between ports, one has the freedom of being oneself, under the laws of no man, no country.

D.H. Lawrence says this aptly in this passage from “Sea and Sardinia”:

To tell the truth there is something in the long, slow lift
of the ship, and her long, slow slide forward which makes my heart beat with joy. 
It is the notion of freedom. 
To feel her come up—then slide slowly forward, with the sound of smashing waters, is like the magic gallop of the sky,
the magic gallop of elemental space.
That long, slow, waveringly, rhythmic rise and fall of the ship,
with waters snorting as if were from her nostrils,
Oh, God, what a joy it is to the wild innermost soul.
One is free at last—
And lilting in a slow flight of the elements, winging outwards

One of my favorite poems is Song of the Open Road, by Walt Whitman. I’ve taken the liberty of adapting a section to fit with sailing:

With my sea legs on and light-hearted I take to the high seas
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The teal, rolling waves before me leading
wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good fortune, I myself am good fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I sail the open seas.


There is an expression, “walking with beauty”. We’ll be sailing the seas and walking the lands of many countries. With my new Nikon digital camera in hand, I plan to search for beauty during our adventure. The digital technology should provide me with a convenient way to share this beauty with you, our readers, through this journal.

In the end, we simply have to go.  We like this poem by Frederic Lehrman:

 Bon Voyage!
Go lightly, simply.
Too much seriousness clouds the soul.
Just go, and follow the flowing moment.
Try not to cling to any experience.
The depths of wonder open of themselves.

After all, the world doesn't end when you decide what you want to do, it merely begins.  This is indeed a new beginning for us.

Messing with Boats, Part I By Gunter

Messing with Boats, Part 2 by Lois

Messing with Boats, Part 3 by Gunter


Log and Journal