Hard to believe, 40 years ago this week I quit the best job in the world to go off on what sounded like an interesting adventure: to sail around the world on a brigantine! I used to work for the railroad, 2 years out of Miami on local freights and yard switchers and 6 months out of Waycross, Georgia, on through freights (the 1+ mile long freight trains), sometimes even riding in the caboose! I loved it! I had loved trains my whole life, playing by the B&O Railroad tracks through the woods from the house where I grew up in Maryland. I had my life's career as far as I was concerned. it was fun, every day was different, it was outside work (but no Winter hassles), the pay was great, great people to work with, and what with 4 and 5 man crews, lots of camaraderie on the job. and whenever I saw a little kid by the side of the tracks waving, I always waved back because I knew exactly what that kid was feeling. I lived only 5 minutes from the beach in Ft. Lauderdale, what could top all this? t
Then I found out about a little square rigger planning to sail around the world. I was intrigued, so I went down to St.Thomas as a tourist and went on one of their "8 days adventure cruising in the Virgin Islands". I loved it and the world trip sounded fantastic. I had been in the Sea Scouts and learned sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, so a lot of it was familiar. my plan was to do the world trip, then get back on the railroad, but hey! this blue water cruising was even more fun than the railroad. so after 19 months around the world on Romance, learning a lot from the Kimberly's and the mate, Dan Moreland, instead of getting back to the railroad I got on another boat, (Pride of Baltimore), and then another boat....and another!....
And now 40 years later, I still haven't got back to the railroad. I'm still sailing, still on Odyssey doing whale research, lately in the Gulf of Mexico. from 2000 to 2005, we did a 5 1/2 year circumnavigation studying and getting biopsies of sperm whales, my third circumnavigation! my last 'big trip' was the delivery of an 82' ketch from Gloucester, Mass. to Tahiti, and beyond, (Jan-Apr 2013). on that trip we stopped at Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, the 4th time I have been there. the first time was on Romance, of course, and while sitting at anchor, marveling at the incredible beauty of the anchorage, (still remarkably unchanged since 1976), I remembered being there the first time and the feeling of awe and wonderment I felt. I was happy that I could pass on that feeling to the new crew, first timers here.
and I am still a rail fan! if I sail anywhere there is train service, I'll go for a train trip! and every year or so I try to do a long Amtrak trip. I have ridden almost all of the Amtrak routes, many of them several times. so, what is next? Odyssey is for sale, here in Key West. there are no grants for research programs, so no further use for the boat. I hope someone in Australia or New Zealand buys the boat and keeps me on for the delivery! I could go for one more Pacific crossing (and my 7th Panama transit!). then I think I would look forward to relaxing at my lovely little "Casa de Bob" in the lower Keys. the walls, ceiling, and floors, are covered in my many and various souvenirs of my travels over the years, and I still have a couple of boxes of books and 'stuff' to sort out and display.
the trip on Romance was truly quite an experience and the beginning of another wonderful career! I can't thank Skipper & Mrs. K enough for the opportunity and the doors that opened afterward to more and continuing adventures! cheers!
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