The Voyage


Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for the ‘Trojans’ Category

Spectacle Shakedown Cruise

Posted by: andy

Pardon the extravagant delay, but what a month.  We drove 2,600 miles together in six days, taking Leo the Cat to his new home in Houston on our way to the USC game in Arkansas, and, after dropping Melissa off at the Little Rock airport, I tacked on 1,200 more miles in two days, arriving just in time for Tadji Kretschmer’s lasagna before taking her husband and sons to watch the Florida State versus Miami game in Miami.  Whew.  And, oh yeah, along the way, I tore a hamstring while water-skiing.

Indeed, this all takes a lot of explaining, and over the next few weeks, I’ll try to get everyone caught up.  But let’s start with a quick story.

It was a sunny, windless, hot and swampy afternoon as Spectacle, several miles offshore, motored northeast from Key West on the way back to Ft. Lauderdale.  Although the engine had been slightly overheating, the Gulf Stream was carrying us home and even at low revs, we were making 7 knots over ground (that’s fast).  The lack of wind meant we couldn’t sail, but it was still a relaxing afternoon.

I went below for a beer.  Fishing an icy Red Stripe out of the cooler, I turned to the galley looking for an opener.  A little red light caught my attention.

“What’s the bilge pump doing on?” I wondered.  I opened the engine compartment to find water sreaming in through the stuffing box.  When I say streaming, I’m talking about roughly a garden hose level.

Needless to say, water pouring into the bottom of one’s boat certainly … ahem … gets one’s attention.  The beer went back into the cooler, and the tools were fetched post-haste.  The problem was solved with only moderate difficulty, but I must say that I did have at least five seconds of near panic.

So … Welcome to Spectacle’s initial “shakedown” cruise!  Yikes!

Tom Jones (our crewing buddy hereafter known only as “Tom”) and Ted Miller joined me for a trip down to Key West and back.  And the trip down to Key West was no less eventful than the return.

When combined with contrary winds and a particularly vicious encounter with the Gulf Stream, the overheating problem meant that, at one point, we were unable to keep the boat moving toward Key West.  In the course of trying to diagnose the problem, I ended up needing to don my snorkel and “dive the boat,” going underneath to try to see if something was caught in the raw-water intake.  While I couldn’t find anything in the intake (we eventually found a partial blockage when we got back to Ft. Lauderdale), I did manage to remove a giant wad of seaweed from the propeller, and this seemed to help just enough to allow us to make some headway.  For the 80 minutes that the boat was stopped, we were pushed nearly six miles back towards Ft. Lauderdale.  That, my friends, is a lot of current.  We expected the trip to Key West to take 36 hours.  It took closer to 60.  The trip home took just over 20.  That’s how much difference the current can make.

Except for about seven hours, the wind was either right on the nose or non-existent.  We did get to sail for those seven hours on the way down, and during that time the boat was blasting along at nearly seven knots, despite being close-hauled and running against the current.  It felt great, and we had absolutely no problems with the sailing rig.

Just Pick a Date

Posted by: andy

As I was sitting at the Rose Bowl on Saturday wondering when the USC offensive line was planning on arriving, it occurred to me that it was the day of last year’s much more enjoyable USC/UCLA game when we finally let the proverbial cat out of the bag concerning our intention to take the trip.I thought about this again today as we were talking with some nice people from Las Vegas who just returned from a charter trip (Conch Inn has a very large “The Moorings” charter dock connected to it).

One of the women mentioned that, many years ago, she and her husband had tossed around the idea of a long voyage but had never done it.  She asked us, “So what was the thought process that got you actually to go?”

I think she was expecting a complex, involved answer.  But Melissa and I answered simultaneously, “Telling people we were going to do it and then picking a date.”

“Yeah,” another member of the group chuckled. “Then you’re committed.”


Once we told people the “what” and the “when,” our planning took on a different level of seriousness. Last year, at my brother’s tailgate party, we told Andy Esbenshade we were going leave to sail around the world on December 6, 2006.  It got easier from there.

Happy New Year!!!

Posted by: andy

Happy New Year with Dan & Selena!!Happy New Year from Providenciales, Turks & Caicos!  We spent our New Year’s Eve with our new friends Selena and Dan here at the nearly excellent Coyaba restaurant and the quite chi-chi Grace Bay Club.  Selena and Dan were down here honeymooning at the Grace Bay Club from their home in St. Louis, where Selena is a law student at an excellent law school and Dan is a sales rep for an excellent golf company.  We actually spent three very fun evenings with them, and I expect they’ll be our friends long after we leave the boat.

We also spent New Years Day with Selena and Dan, this time sitting on our behinds at what passes for a sports bar here in Provo (and, by the way, it passes pretty well, all things considered) and watching the Trojans shred the heretofore ballyhooed Wolverines, followed by the eye-popping Boise St./Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl.  During the games, I realized that this was the first Trojan Rose Bowl I have missed attending in exactly 30 years – and I’m only 34 years old.

As some of you likely have heard, our passage down here from Marsh Harbour was not exactly “smooth.”  I am working on a comprehensive integrated write-up of “Fiasco Autopilot” and “Fiasco-Plus Turks & Caicos Passage.”  The passage really was a borderline Calamity, except that (a) it was never dangerous, and (b) it always was at least somewhat funny.  I promise you a full (which will mean VERY lengthy but quite entertaining) account in the next couple of days. 

The Dilapidated Geo TrackerFor now, we are enjoying Provo, except for the third-world marina in which we are staying.  The marina is a very bumpy 20-minute drive down a dirt road from anything resembling civilization.  It has no hot water (so I haven’t shaved since Marsh Harbour) and is generally filthy, so we’re trying to finish our boat projects by around 2:00 p.m. each day before having a (cold) shower, getting dressed and heading into town (in our sweet rental Geo Tracker that is about to fall apart). 

We expect to be here for about another week before pushing off for St. Thomas.  It is unfortunate to be behind schedule already, but if there is one thing that the trip down here taught me, it is that you simply can’t use a “land” schedule for a “sea” trip.  We may have to skip an island or two that we’d previously planned on visiting, but that’s just how it goes.

Back in the Cockpit

Posted by: melissa

Welcome to Year 2 of Spectacle’s spectacular shenanigans!

You might recall that, a mere six months into our trip, a twice-busted autopilot and an obsessive cricket-related detour resulted in Spectacle being far behind schedule.  Once the Bonaire autopilot fiasco reared its ugly head, we decided to cancel our plans to cross the Pacific during Year 1, wait out South Pacific hurricane season in Los Angeles, and proceed with our voyage during the next Pacific crossing season (which opens in April).

We spent five-plus months stateside catching up with friends and family, and of course, enjoying the amenities of American life that we don’t get out here on the boat.  College football (and especially Andy’s beloved USC Trojans and long-awful-but-suddenly-good Missouri Tigers) were high priorities.  Highlights included the Cotton Bowl and the USC versus Nebraska game in Lincoln.  Since we just don’t travel enough, we headed to Sri Lanka for a two-week cricket extravaganza / wedding reconnaissance mission / post-World Cup catch up session with the team.  Additionally, it was nice to spend Christmas at home especially considering the circumstances of last Christmas!