Archive for October, 2006
I’m ready to go and looking forward to learning how to share the cruising tasks and getting my sea legs. I have been adding verses to a poem begun in 2002. Some of you may have read parts of it. Here is the whole thing till this point with some changes as things have changed.
It was during the year 2002
that Randal Johnson had this thought,
to take his wife and little else
and live their life upon a yacht.
They’d sail the seas and see the world
and never stay long in one spot.
So to his wife he said, “We ought
to buy a sailing boat.”
His wife said, “Hmmm, I’m not so sure.
We have no skills, we have no yacht.”
Said Randal, “Not to worry dear.
There’s nothing to fear from sailing but fear.
We’ll buy some books, we’ll read a lot,
we’ll learn to sail from here to there.
We’ll sail around this whole huge sphere.
We’ll buy a sailing boat.”
And so their tale has just begun.
They’ll sail the seas and have great fun.
They’ll learn to sail, they’ll conquer fears.
The sea will be their home for years.
They’ll learn to sail a sailing boat and happily learn to live afloat.
And create a sailing yarn aboard their boat Avista-Mignon.
(written for Randal’s birthday 2002 by Ruth)
The dream has changed, as dreams may do,
that started in 2002.
What will it be before we’re through?
Of dreams it’s good to have a few,
then life’s not old but always new.
The Circle Tour is now the plan.
In truth that’s how it all began;
then tacked away to sail the seas,
to take a year, go where we please.
But dreams if they are to come true
must be a dream that we can do.
So first we’ll cruise the Circle Tour
and maybe later tour some more.
But I know within my heart
it’s not the course we choose to chart
will be the most important part.
But with you till the very end
is how my time I want to spend
my love, my captain, my best friend.
(Valentine’s Day 2003)
Then DoraMac became the name
the only change, the dream’s the same.
So to Miami we did go and toured the whole big boating show.
Though not the best we got some rest and got some sun and had some fun.
We’ll read and plan and learn much more throughout the year 2004.
(Valentine’s Day 2004)
We’ve changed the name to DoraMac
and now our dream has doubled back,
to see the world, but not with sail
which might have caused the dream to fail.
A web search found the “Diesel Duck.”
By it’s design was Randal struck..
Two boat shows didn’t change his mind
a better boat he couldn’t find.
Plus reading done throughout the year
had come to make the choice quite clear.
On David Katz’s “Duck” he learned
to know the “Duck” from bow to stern.
from San Francisco to Seattle
though 2 days were a seasick battle.
But Randal loved the “Duck” and knew
that Ruth, his wife, would love it too.
So in November they did fly
to Seahorse Marine in Zhuhai.
Bill Kimley builds the "Ducks" in China.
George Buehler is the “Duck’s” designer.
To Buehler’s plan we’d add our own;
to make hull # 5 our home.
So Randal and Bill had a chat.
They talked of this, they spoke of that.
They shook hands and both agreed this Diesel Duck would meet our need.
Our trip was great! We loved it all!!
We even got to climb the Wall.
It’s why we want the boat at all
to make this giant world seem small.
And to our friends who ask us why and shake their heads and say, “Oh my!”
Our answer is we have to try to live our dream before we die.
And when we’re old we can remember
that very first trip in November.
(written Valentine’s Day 2005)
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, over zealous 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
Randal Johnson M/V Dora Mac 462-5
Builder Web Site www.seahorseyachts.com
Forum for Diesel Ducks http://ducktalk.net/groupee
Paper: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Title: For Roanoke couple, a slow boat from China
Date: October 2, 2006
It was in the year 2002
That Randal Johnson
had this thought:
To take his wife and little else
And live his life upon a yacht.
- Ruth Johnson
They’ve entrusted their dog to a relative and their cat to a friend, so now Randal and Ruth Johnson are ready to run off to sea.
The Roanokers are preparing to put the mountains of western Virginia astern and chug around the world alone on a steel-hull trawler, a feat of circumnavigation they estimate will take them five to 10 years to complete. The Johnsons are having a 51-foot boat built in China, and when it’s finished in mid-December, they’re off to the deep oceans, powered along by a single four-cylinder John Deere diesel engine.
Their cruising speed: 7 1/2 mph.
"There’s no way in the world we could back out now, because we’ve told everybody we’re going to do it," said Randal Johnson, 58. "And by golly, we’re going to do it."
They plan to rest the motor with lengthy, sun-soaked stays at sundry locales along the South Pacific, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Baltic. The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, India, New Zealand and Australia - all have been penciled into the itinerary.
"I’m looking so forward to it I can hardly breathe," Johnson said.
"People ask, ‘Are you excited about this?’ and I say, ‘I have no clue,’ " said his wife, Ruth, 55.
"I can’t fantasize because I know so little about it. But we both like to travel, and we both like the water. I can’t wait for the seabirds."
Randal Johnson is known throughout the Roanoke Valley as the longtime owner of two auto-body shops, Roanoke Wreck Repair and Roanoke Wreck Repair South. Ruth Johnson was a reference librarian at a Roanoke County library.
This year, Randal Johnson sold his businesses, and his wife quit her job, having already spent several years planning their retirement afloat. They’ve read technical volumes, attended boat shows to glean advice from other seafaring couples, and learned the finer points of docking in foreign marinas and living aboard a ship. Randal Johnson took a nine-week mariners’ training course in Florida, but his immersion in the technical aspects of seamanship has not dimmed his enthusiasm for the task he’s preparing to undertake.
"If I put together all the true sea-adventure books I’ve read, they’d take up 8 feet on a library shelf," he said.
The seed that grew into the imminent globe-girdling voyage was planted in 2000, when Johnson was in the middle of a bicycling trip that took him 16,000 miles over six continents. One of his fellow bicyclists, Johnson said, was a New Mexico doctor who regaled him with thrilling tales of the time he spent sailing from Panama to the South Pacific islands. Johnson couldn’t get the stories out of his mind.
"In March 2002, I came home from work, and Ruth was standing beside the refrigerator, and I said, ‘I want to sail around the world,’ " Johnson recalled. "She said, ‘Me, too.’ "
They immediately began planning, and, after ruling out a sailboat, Johnson ordered the Seahorse Marine Co. to build him a trawler in the port of Zhuhai, China, near Hong Kong. The trawler, though a slow-going vessel, is replete with modern conveniences: a satellite-linked television and DVD player, a washer and dryer, guest beds, a living area and a kitchen, all below a teak deck. If they want, the Johnsons can also hoist sails on the boat’s mainmast.
The basic trawler model that Johnson bought has a starting price of about $400,000, but Johnson said the around-the-world boating life can be relatively inexpensive once the journey begins. He said he anticipates paying a couple of hundred dollars per month to dock at a marina - sometimes more, sometimes less - and stocking the pantry occasionally. He also has fishing gear.
"I’ve convinced my wife and I’ve convinced myself that we can travel on that boat cheaper than we can live in our home," he said.
Ruth Johnson, a native of New Bedford, Mass., a once-famous whaling center, said she grew up near the water and has always loved it, but she credited her faith in her husband’s abilities with leading her to join in the adventure.
"That’s why I can do this," she said. "I’m convinced, you can drop him anywhere in the world and he’ll be all right. I have confidence in him."
Contact staff writer Rex Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (540) 344-3612.
ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO, MAP
Copyright (c) 2006 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
Author: REX BOWMAN
Copyright (c) 2006 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
Posted with permission of the author.
Ruth and Randal
Boston Red Sox hat travels the world.