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

Welcome to

Posted by: andy

Welcome, one and all, to!  This website will chronicle our journey around the world, as well as our pre-departure preparations.   We plan to be underway on or about December 9, so things are starting to happen fast.  You can see our planned timeline in the Course & Timeline section.

The closing on the boat purchase is this coming Monday, July 24.  At that point, we will be the proud owners of Declaire, a 2001 Tayana 48 cutter-rigged blue-water cruising sailboat that will soon be renamed Spectacle.  You can get details about (and see pictures of) Declaire /Spectacle in the sections called Spectacle The Boat and Pictures of Spectacle.

As you might surmise, we are very excited about this addition to the family.

Finding Spectacle

Posted by: andy

Now that we have the boat (!), I thought I’d write a little bit about our search for it.

The prospect of finding the right boat for our adventure was VERY daunting.  As I’ve said to many people, it seems like buying a boat combines all the worst elements of buying a used car with all the worst elements of buying a house.  As early as last December, we began researching brands and models and messing around on Yacht World looking at individual boats.

There are surprisingly few boats that are actually designed for blue-water (i.e. ocean-crossing) sailing. Sailboats come in roughly three categories: (1) production boats, (2) semi-custom boats, and (3) custom boats.  For the most part, the largest boat manufacturers — Beneteau, Hunter and Catalina – do not design their boats for the kind of long ocean-passages and potentially violent conditions we will see. Have people sailed these boats around the world?  Of course.  It’s just not really what they are designed for.  These so-called “production” boats just aren’t as heartily constructed as “semi-custom” or “custom” boats.

“Custom” means different things to different people, but most of all it implies very small production. This was also a little bit scary to us.  We didn’t want a “one-off” design that could have any number of undiscovered – and potentially unfixable — quirks to it.  Basically, we wanted a proven blue-water design from a proven manufacturer.  That left us with the “semi-custom” category.

The day after the Rose Bowl debacle (don’t get me started), our search began in earnest with a trip up to the Seattle Boat Show.  Although this is not one of America’s biggest shows, it did give a chance to walk around on a number of different boats.  We saw several boats that we really liked (several different Hallberg-Rassys especially stood out) and others that we had expected to like but didn’t (we’ll keep that info to ourselves).  This helped us further refine our list.

We knew we were going to be attending a wedding in Michigan over July 4th weekend.  We also knew we wanted to buy a boat on the east coast.  So, on one particularly neurotic early March evening, I managed to track down every potentially suitable boat listed on Yacht World (believe it or not, there were only about 50) and list them in geographic order from Michigan to Maine to Florida, with the thought that we’d spend the month-or-so after the wedding driving down the east coast and finding the boat.  Needless to say, this plan would involve a considerable expenditure of both time and money.

However, we also knew we were going to be in Fort Lauderdale in March, so we might as well start the search then.  And the very first boat we saw was Declaire.  Both in terms of size and in terms of price, Declaire was at the top of our range.  However, it took about two minutes for us to know that she was exactly what we wanted.  We kept our cool until our broker, Patrick Jackson of Bollman Yachts, dropped us off.  Then I turned to Melissa and said, “We’re buying that boat, aren’t we?”   She said, “We sure are.”

So much for our month-long tour of every major marina on the east coast.

As we sailed down to Panama and back with John Kretschmer (who knows just a few things about buying a boat), we had five weeks to think about making an offer.  We prattled on and on about how much it loved Declaire, and we got John to agree to come look at the boat when we made it back to Lauderdale.

We got back, and Declaire was just as we remembered her, if not better.  John’s reaction?   “I think you can probably get this boat for $[X], and if you can, you need to buy this boat.”  Well, if the author of “Used Boat Notebook” (one of the leading books about purchasing a used sailboat) says we need to buy the boat, then we’re buying it.   We made an offer a couple of weeks later and, after a brief round of negotiation, we had a contract.

The purchase of a boat is never going to be the smartest financial decision one ever makes, but we feel very confident that we ended up getting good value for money.  And, no, you may not ask us how much we paid for the boat…

Fall Schedule

Posted by: andy

When we planned our departure schedule, we figured we would be spending the fall doing all manner of boat-improvement projects in Fort Lauderdale . What we didn’t anticipate was that we would be buying a boat that is almost entirely ready to go already.

When we realized that our fall was not going to be as chock-full of projects as we had thought, Melissa decided to go to Bikram yoga instructor certification training, something she has wanted to do for years. This twice-annual teacher training starts September 17 in Los Angeles and runs through November 18. She’ll live at my mother’s house in Glendale and be off contorting in 105-degree rooms for 3 hours per day. Sounds like a party!

It won’t surprise you that I, on the other hand, have no desire to become a yoga instructor. So I will be off to Florida. Instead of scores of do-it-yourself projects, we are faced with mostly just learning all the ins and outs of the boat systems. Spectacle is a very complicated piece of machinery and I am not the most mechanically inclined individual. Just sitting down with the manuals and getting a sufficient working knowledge of all the relevant systems is probably going to take me at least 20 days on the boat. While there, I’ll also take in a few college football games in my spare time. I’ll also be making several trips home to visit Melissa.

Quite a lot is involved in uprooting one’s life and leaving the country for three years, and it’s all coming up very soon. The moving truck comes on August 23. We begin our cross-country drive (so we’ll have a car in Florida) on August 28 (with a stop for USC vs. Arkansas in Fayetteville on September 2). We are officially out of our house in San Clemente on September 15 – less than five weeks away!


Posted by: andy

I know that some of you are wondering what our day-to-day lives are going to be like when we are “out there.”  Well, I want to recommend a fantastic log maintained by another young couple (younger than we are, actually) who are circumnavigating over almost exactly the same course over almost exactly the same schedule.   The difference is that they have a three year headstart, which means that they are presently in the Mediterranean, sailing from Turkey to Greece.

They are Pat and Ali from Minneapolis/Chicago and their boat is named Bumfuzzle. This is a great boat name and a great couple.   Their web site is  We’re hoping to meet up with them this winter in the Caribbean, just before they finish their voyage in Florida.

A lot of pself-pstyled (and pself-important) pseudo-psalty psailors have their knickers in a twist over Pat and Ali.   They left on this journey without decades of experience, without excessive psuffering and drama, and without the kind of “authentic” credibility that many of these pseudo-psalty psailors seem to require.   As a result, they have often been psavaged by armchair idiots/poseurs who enjoy a Pussers on the rocks from the comfort of their insurance-agency office in Milwaukee while they lament how sailing has gone “to the birds” because actual pself-psupporting, attractive young people are out doing it while the critics are still at home.   It’s quite psilly, actually.

We think their journey is fantastic.  We think their site is fantastic.   We root for them constantly.  We strongly encourage you to check out their website for (a) some insight into what our lives will be like and (b) some great entertainment.   They have done a fantastic and entertaining job of communicating the essentials of what their trip is all about.

This is not to say our journey will be the same.  Obviously, there will be some stark differences (for starters, think Michelin stars vs. McDonald’s).   There are things that I already know that we disagree about (e.g. catamarans vs. monohulls).  But, on balance, I must say that they have been a major inspiration to us and I hope that you will enjoy reading their site as much as we have.   For that matter, I secretly hope that they will enjoy reading our site as much as we have enjoyed reading theirs.  Fair Winds, Ali and Pat!

Route Planning — There’s a Method to It

Posted by: andy

People have asked about how we have planned our route. The answer is pretty simple: we mostly let Jimmy Cornell do it for us.

Cornell’s book “World Cruising Routes” is, more than any other, the one must-have book for the circumnavigating sailor. In addition to detailed instructions on how to get from just about every conceivable Point A to just about every conceivable Point B (it’s a big book), it has detailed weather information and suggested circumnavigation plans, which can be tweaked here and there.

The biggest factor involved is that there are certain parts of the world in which you just can’t safely sail during certain parts of the year. The prime reason for this is cyclonic storms (i.e. hurricanes). For example, Atlantic hurricane season officially begins July 1 and ends December 1 (except, of course, on the rare occasion Mother Nature disagrees — last year’s Hurricane Epsilon lasted until December 8 – only the sixth December Hurricane ever recorded). It’s not an accident that we are beginning our journey on December 9. Similarly, South Pacific cyclone season runs from December to March. We’re going to be sure to have the boat in New Zealand – and out of the cyclone belt – by November 15.

Given the prevailing winds (which make sailng westward easier) and the weather patterns, the course and the timing are largely decided for you. Of course, we have to keep our fingers crossed that our ever-warming earth won’t start deviating from the patterns that mariners have relied upon for centuries. Last summer wasn’t particularly encouraging.

If you are wondering to yourself, “Hey, isn’t it hurricane season where their boat is right now?” The answer is yes. We’re checking The Weather Channel every day, hoping to avoid a replay of Summer 2005 and, in our case, especially something like Wilma.

Fortunately, Spectacle is fairly far up the New River, so a hurricane storm surge is unlikely to cause major problems for us . . . but you can bet that we check every single day.