John Santic, the author of this web site, standing watch aboard Nine of Cups while sailing on the South Pacific Ocean. (Photo by Marcie Connelly-Lynn.)  

Marcie and David walking along the lovely beach at Bahia Tortuga (which means "Turtle Bay"), on the island of Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Archipelago.  

Here's a map summarizing my trip. Different colors denote different segments of the trip; dotted lines indicate plans that didn't work out. Click on the map for a bigger version (126 kb); use your browser's "back" command to return here.  

I have already had a full career of more than 20 years as a computer engineer, mostly writing software for communications systems like cellular telephone systems or satellite communications systems. Although I liked the kind of work I was doing and was good at it, after a while it began to take a toll. The jobs were getting bigger and bigger, and the schedules tighter and tighter. In late 1997, more than 20 years into my career, I decided that I had had enough for a while. It was just too stressful, and I needed to take a break. I quit my job, bought a sailboat, sold my house, and took off cruising. I suppose you could call it a mid-life crisis, but whatever it was, it was a huge change.

After spending more than a year refitting the boat, I cruised south from Maryland to Florida for the winter of 1999 - 2000, then north to Chesapeake Bay in early summer 2000. After working for two seasons at a marina in Solomons, Maryland, I cruised south to Charleston, South Carolina, for the winter of 2001 - 2002. Charleston was such a great city to visit, and I really enjoyed my stay.

While in Charleston, I met several other cruisers who were staying at the same marina, including Marcie and David, a couple cruising on a nice 45' sailboat. They had retired from a career in the medical instrumentation business, Marcie in marketing and David in engineering. We spent some time together at the marina and enjoyed each other's company. When they sailed away from Charleston, Marcie and David began a round-the-world sailing adventure that they expected would take at least 10 years.

Initially, they headed south, island-hopping through the Caribbean and visiting the northeastern coast of South America. After transiting the Panama Canal, they headed down the west coast of South America. They are good sailors and enjoy cruising on their boat, but they especially enjoy exploring the countries they visit and learning about the history and culture. They also like to travel inland to see the unique natural and historic landmarks that each region offers. In their spare time, they maintain an extensive web site with pictures and stories of their travels, (the web site is named for their boat, Nine of Cups).

After spending the winter in Charleston, in early summer I cruised north on my boat to Baltimore, Maryland, to look for a job. During a land-based adventure as a long-distance truck driver, I kept in touch with Marcie and David by email, and followed their adventure on their web site.

In late 2003, Marcie and David invited me to visit them on their boat and serve as crew during an upcoming ocean voyage. At the time, they were at a marina on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, and planned to sail to the Galápagos Archipelago (which is part of Ecuador). After an extensive visit to the Galápagos, they planned to sail to Easter Island (which belongs to Chile), and then to the Juan Fernández Islands, off the coast of Chile. After all this island-hopping, they planned to return to the South American mainland someplace in Chile, sail north along the coast visiting Chile and Peru, then eventually return to the marina in Ecuador (they really like South America!).

They invited me for the portion of the trip from Ecuador, through the various islands, and back to mainland South America, since this part of the trip would have long ocean voyages where an extra crew member would be a big help (it's normally just the two of them). Being between jobs, I had some time available, and I indicated an interest in crewing for a major part of the voyage. We would travel together as friends, but I wouldn't be an idle guest. Instead, as a crew member, I would be assigned official duties and would participate in the operation and maintenance of the vessel. Financially, I would be responsible for my own expenses, while Marcie and David would pay for their expenses, including boat-related expenses.

After a flurry of intercontinental emails, we firmed up our plans. I would fly from Baltimore to Guayaquil, Ecuador, via Miami and Quito, Ecuador. I would arrive March 10, 2004, and agreed to spend at least two months crewing for them, perhaps longer, depending on how the adventure evolved. I have lots of my trip-planning details on the next set of pages.

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