I asked her to do this because I knew I wouldn’t have the words to describe, to explain, to illustrate what the expedition has meant to us, or to those who have joined along the way. Of course photos are only a slice of the picture, a fabulous collage pieced together somewhat magically and very haphazardly as we slowly worked our way around the world. There’s been a plentiful supply of blood, pain, laughter, disappointments, discoveries, and of course moments that are too special to ever try to represent with words.
Many people have the dream of sailing off into the sunset. But the reality is a LOT different than the perception. Herein lies the advice of someone who’s spent 13 years circumnavigating on the pitfalls to avoid.
After our 30 day Cargados trip I was looking forward to 8 badly needed days of rest in Reunion with no clients and no guests. I’d researched all the surf waves and paragliding sites over a year ago and couldn’t wait to taste the goods. I should have known better. Maintenace alone took the better part of a week. Continued engine worries, a number of canvas and sail projects, burned out battery charger- the list kept growing. And then 48 hours before our planned departure things went from bad to awful. We’d flown our wonder chef Bobby back to Jakarta for the week so he could meet his new daughter, who was born in February. I’d received a number of emails all week about how good everything was going with his family and how excited he was to return. I drove to the airport to pick him up, but he didn’t show. I assumed he’d just missed a connection, but learned shortly thereafter from his first wife (Bobby has two wives) that he been very badly injured in a car crash en route to the airport in Jakarta on his way back to Discovery. We were told he had a broken back, badly damaged face, hands and one knee; and of course would not be returning to the boat.
In many ways the last trip started over 10 years ago. I was sitting in a pub on the SW corner of Vancouver Island near the Juan De Fuca Straits with a guy who’d just completed a circumnavigation. It was the spring of 1999 and other than commercial fishing in the Bearing Sea I’d never been offshore and had no idea how it all worked. This guy’s stories of adventure kept me rapt for hours and I furiously scribbled notes about all the places he reckoned were “must sees”. One in particular seemed more enticing and yet elusive than any other. Chagos. I’d never heard of it and remember pulling out a map later that night just to make sure it was real.
A rough and extremely scary solo passage through two of the busiest shipping routes on earth puts skipper Gavin McClurg through the ultimate test.
Scoring wind and waves in the heart of the Indonesian archipelago…
Somewhere in the past few weeks this train got off the tracks at reality and hasn’t returned. I keep waiting for the hammer to fall, to wake from the dream, for something to happen that is just hum drum. The expedition peaked right after Christmas at The Edge of the Earth, went completely over the edge with a bunch of the world’s best in Legends at the Abyss and though I don’t remember much as I was pretty sick, continued the exponential climb in a Matter of Perspective. The quality of the winds and waves in the Marshall Islands were simply insane and we seriously considered just halting the whole thing there as I thought there would never be chance to find better.
We score the best waves and most consistent winds of the expedition in the Marshall Islands
We take to the skies for the first paragliding that has ever been done in Tonga. Insane images.
This trip goes down as one, if not the finest expedition of my life. To qualify as an “expedition” it should have the following attributes: remote, rarely or never attempted, difficult, and requiring great planning and usually heroic effort. Having two amazing chefs and a luxury yacht probably removes ‘difficult’ from our list, but we topped the scales on remote and never attempted on this one, and if you add what our chefs went through to get food on this boat we definitely have heroic. Although swimming with dozens of sharks cannot be described as easy…