How it Began

Our Journey

Writing an introduction telling who we are 2 years into our journey makes for a far different story than one written before we left home. The reality of cruising around the world has intersected with our dream of cruising around the world. We are over a year behind our original schedule planned when we had no cruising experience.  Now we know, “everything takes longer!”  Boat problems intervene.  Weather intervenes.  But that is just a fact of cruising life.  And our original goal to circumnavigate the world hasn’t changed.  If anything places to see and people to visit have been added.  And just yesterday Randal spoke of returning places during our second circumnavigation!

“Meeting in these spot thousands of miles away from our native lands, with people coming from every direction and going in every other, we begin to lose all sense of space and distance.”  Agnes Newton Keith wrote those words in 1939 in her Malaysia memoir, Land below the Wind. Add easier air travel and email and the world shrinks even more and time and space become more distorted; and sadly, less unique. I was going to expand my horizons and become a citizen of the world and said so publically on our local TV news.  The reality is that I’m becoming a citizen of nowhere, an observer rather than a participant. I am the “representative American” and more often the “representative Jew so try to be a good visitor to each country.  Everywhere people seem to be positive about Americans.   In many places, Randal and I are what is unique.  Now my “goals” are to not screw up too badly handling the lines when we dock the boat, paint an ok picture every third try, and remember  to take my calcium pills twice each day.  Considering my goal at retirement was to get up the next day and not have to go to work, I know, for me, small goals are best.  I’m leaving the lofty goals to Randal.

The basic facts about me are; I will be 58 in October, I am a retired Reference Librarian from the Roanoke County Public Library, (Roanoke, VA); I am a Red Sox by birth and choice, and I will always be from New Bedford, MA, no matter I haven’t lived there since 1968.  I have been married to Randal since May 29, 1999.  I like to read, I like to walk, I love the seashore; I don’t like to cook.  I love most animals.  As we cruise, I miss my sister and her family, Randal’s family, my old and new friends and having a public library to use.  Not a very exciting profile, but fairly accurate.

From Ruth & Randal – Sunday, October 29, 2006

Posted on October 29, 2006 by mrancier04
Hi All
“The years thunder by, the dreams of youth lie caked
in dust on the shelves of patience, before you know it,
the tomb is sealed”        –Sterling Hayden 
This is still one of my favorite quotes. The years thunder by indeed and what do we have to show for them. I was 58 years old September 21st, it seems it was only yesterday Momma was calling me for dinner, now Mom and Dad are both gone, my oldest brother is gone and I’ve stopped looking at the obituaries because too many friends were showing up there.
The day I made the decision to leave my business for a year, pay $31,000 for a supported bicycle ride around the world was November 11, 1995. I remember it very well. I anguished over spending that much money, possibly losing my business, and the ramifications of being out of the business loop for one year. I remember my thought processes. I finally decided this: One day if I’m lucky enough to be 80 years old, I will look back on my life. Which will I cherish the most, the money or the memories of that bicycle trip? Well I guess you know what my answer was.

Now Ruth and I embark on an adventure that may not have an end. Affairs have been put in order, the house is rented and I have a business manager to pay our bills and represent our interest here in Roanoke. Our boat is almost ready and we leave Roanoke on a one way ticket on November 1st. We stop over on the west coast for a few days but when we arrive at the boat yard in China on November 11th, we are there finalizing the outfitting of the boat until we depart on it, our new home.
Do I have reservations? Absolutely not: We have been planning this adventure now for over 4 ½ years. I checked my Amazon account the other day and I have purchased 97 books from them during that period. Most of which were books on boating. That is not counting the many books I have bought and read from other sources. I have in my mind lived through almost every scenario possible. I just finished writing a storm tactics manual for the boat that has over 2500 words, boy was that exciting. We are quite often asked about pirates and I have to admit I am still working on that scenario, but my overall feeling is there is a pretty slim chance of a piracy attack.
All of you on this list are either friends or family and if you would like to plan to come visit us, you are welcome. The boat will actually sleep nine people. There are two separate cabins, (bedrooms). The boat has two bathrooms, (heads). The settee, (couch) in the salon, (living room) turns into a queen size bed and one can sleep on the settee in the pilot house. Two more can sleep in the cockpit, (outside settee and my favorite).
These are our very tentative plans. Leave Hong Kong hopefully after Christmas near the first of the year, make a run to Subic Bay in the Philippines and probably stay there for a month or two. The Philippines have 7,100 islands, and two thirds of those are considered safe, then on to Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. This may very well take up most of a year. The best time to go across the Indian Ocean and up through the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean is December through March.
It may be March, 2008 before we end up in the Med but once there we will spend approximately two years hopping from one country to the next. We intend to circumnavigate the Black Sea and visit the countries that border it, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, and Georgia.
All plans are tentative of course and will be dictated only by weather, seasonal climate conditions, news from other cruisers, and cruising guides; in that order. I emphasize news from other cruisers because they are the best source of information and I have yet to meet one who was not available to talk, especially about where they have been or what they have heard from other cruisers about places. I recently read a story about a man who started a west about world circumnavigation from the US west coast 10 years ago and is still hanging out in the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
This adventure already has been an extensive learning process. We have acquired an agent to help in documenting the boat in the United States. The application asked for the hailing port which also has to show on the stern of the boat. I wanted to use Hong Kong thinking it might get a little better reception in some countries we visit but the agent said it would have to be a US territory or possession. We have decided on “Bedford, VA”. That is where I was raised but mostly because Momma, “Dora Mac” spent her entire life there. I can almost guarantee that Dora Mac the boat, at 51’ in length, 15’ width, 6’ draft, and 34 ton displacement will never see Bedford, VA though.
So, this is the beginning of our journey together in a confined space that tends to move from one great place to another. In the process we will deal with the customs of different cultures, bureaucracies, diverse ways of existence, overzealous venders, and maybe a pirate or two but mostly truly wonderful people who only want the same things out of life as we do; a comfortable living and the best for our children.
The picture below was recently taken after the boat was launched on October 9th. The mast and rigging, sails, biminis for the flybridge and cockpit have to be installed but she is coming along nicely.
Until the next time which will be from afloat ———-

“I do not want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” Diane Ackerman

Those of you who have been following us from the beginning can see where our plans have changed as we go along.  It is August 30, 2008 and we are nowhere near the Med and won’t be for maybe another year.  Too much to see in Southeast Asia to rush away.  But that’s OK.  Our original plan was a guess.  Now it’s modified by the reality of cruising.

Ruth and Randal Johnson

August 30, 2008

Makassar Harbor, South Sulawesi, Indonesia