Almost every day, somewhere in the world, a new round world sailing adventure begins. They don't make even the local papers, let alone the international ones. We hardly write about them on Sail-World - simply because there are so many, but to each cruising sailor who lets go the docklines and leaves their workaday world to cross oceans, it's the adventure of a lifetime.
Moonbeam’s journey so far
And so it is for Ken Bardon, a 70-year-old from the west coast of Florida, who, he says, has had the dream all his life, but it took until now to realise it. Ken's partner does not hold the same dream, however, so Lil Bardon will meet him in easy sailing destinations around the world, while a variety of crew will sail with him on different legs around the world.
Now he is making his dream into reality, having already reached his first Pacific destination, the Galapagos. With a crew of four, Bardon cast off from the dock and took the helm of Moonbeam, his 52-foot cutter-rigged Island Packet, headed through the Caribbean and via the Panama Canal, to the Pacific Ocean. The voyage will be a fast one by cruising standards, as Ken expects to be back in Florida in the Spring of 2014.
Ken is not new to sailing. He has made three transatlantic passages, sailed many times to Bermuda and to the Caribbean, raced to Cuba twice and once raced across the Gulf of Mexico to Isla Mujerea, Mexico. A sailor for many years, he has accumulated more than 80,000 blue water miles. His current crew members are also experienced sailors.
The early plan is to sail from Marco Island to Guatemala and spend a few days enjoying the River Dolce. This is a 760 mile trip. Next, they plan to sail from Guatemala back to sea for the 790 mile passage to the Panama Canal entrance. They will continue sailing southward from Panama across to the Marquesas to Tahiti. In May, they will continue sailing from Marquesas to Tahiti. June through August, they will visit and explore Tahiti, Fiji via Cook Passage, Samoa and the Tonga islands. September will continue with exploring Fiji to Australia and New Zealand. From October and on into 2014, Moonbeam will be in New Zealand to prepare for her return trip.
Why leave the comforts of home, and set sail in a small boat on the great ocean?
'Because it's there,' Ken told the local http://www.marconews.com!Marco_News, echoing Sir Edmund Hillary's justification for climbing Mt. Everest. 'I bought this boat 10 years ago for this purpose.' And Ken is not leaving all comforts behind – his Island Packet is a thing of beauty, roomy and seaworthy, with internal roller-furling sails to make life easy.
Aboard Moonbeam, the crew will never be out of contact with the rest of the world, with redundant satellite phone and satellite email capability, single sideband radio along with VHF, plus radar, GPS, chart plotters, EPIRB, continuous weather reports and the newest navigational wrinkle, AIS or automatic identification system, which transmits and receives specific information allowing nearby vessels to identify each other.spacious cabins, all the necessary safety, navigation, and communications equipment, plenty of creature comforts and well-stocked larders.
Moonbeam crew say farewell
Ken had sold his electronics business, stayed on two years to help in the transition, and then planned meticulously to prepare for the day of departure. Moonbeam is the culmination in a series of sailing vessels he had owned and skippered. He started with a McGregor 22, graduated to a Cape Dory 25, then a Hunter 27, Sabre 34 and 36s, and a Norseman 40 before settling on his current boat.
The personnel roster will continue to fluctuate with crew changes along the way. The first major layover is planned for Opua in New Zealand's Bay of Islands, which he must reach before November, to get there before the cyclone season.
After New Zealand and the northern route around Australia, Moonbeam's itinerary includes Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and a run across the Indian Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. The route as plotted heads on to St. Helena, Brazil, and returning through the Caribbean, avoiding Europe and the Mediterranean altogether.
For leisure time, Bardon has his Kindle with 200 books pre-loaded. Asked what he would miss about life ashore, he thought a moment before answering 'very little.'
So another cruising sailor has let go the dock-lines and disappeared over the horizon. If you haven't done it already, when will YOU be ready?