An anchorage from which dreams are made: Aventura III makes a stop at Egmont Island, in the Chagos Archipelago.
Highs, Lows, and Middlings of a Circumnavigation
A postmortem on Aventura IIIs wide-ranging adventures the third time around hints at yet another voyage in the offing— for the sheer love of it BY JIMMY CORNELL
Reflecting on his eventful expedition to the Sea of Cortez, John Steinbeck wrote that a trip to an unknown region should be made twice—once to make mistakes and once to correct them. Unfortunately, I only came across these words of wisdom too late or I might have asked myself why I had to go a third time around the world. Fortunately, the number of mistakes I made was considerably smaller than on my two previous voyages. But correcting some of my earlier mistakes was hardly the reason for my third trip, so I will borrow another famous writer's words on traveling, as they seem to fit my own attitude perfectly. "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, who was an inveterate traveler and whose sailing adventures took him across the South Pacific Ocean. Substitute "sailing" for "travel" and you'll understand what's kept me going for these last four years.
Besides the sheer joy of sailing, my latest voyage was also rich in new experiences. From among a long list of unforgettable highlights, I'll pick some of the more significant ones: sailing over the Caicos Bank and revisiting the spot where we'd run aground and nearly lost our first Aventura in 1976. Spending a week on Suwar-row Atoll, in the Cooks. Diving on a tiny uninhabited island in the Chagos Archipelago and savoring some of the most beautiful underwater scenery I've ever seen. Rediscovering the pleasure of being welcomed in remote villages in Vanuatu and Papua New
Guinea, where life has stood still. The relief of arriving in Cape Town after having weathered the notorious southern tip of Africa. The pleasure of unfolding an old chart of the Torres Strait and finding on it the position lines I'd anxiously plotted a quarter of a century earlier, a time when we could rely only on celestial navigation to lead us safely through that maze of reefs.
There were a few less enjoyable moments, too: being laid low with ciguatera in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Miraculously avoiding being smashed against the lock wall when the crewmen of the tug to which we were tied while transiting the Panama Canal let go of the stern line first. Coming on watch while sailing in the lee of the Chagos Bank at night and realizing that my crew had let me sleep through a change in wind direction and the windvane had taken us within one mile of a deadly reef. Missing by a hair's breadth the stern of several boats at Vila Real de Santo Antonio in Portugal when I noticed too late that a strong river current was sweeping though the marina. Getting a dizzying surge of adrenaline as we rushed through a shallow pass east of Great Exuma with not an inch of water under the raised centerboard. Arriving on my own in Ecuador and realizing, as I was weaving my way between moored boats, that because the propeller wouldn't engage astern, I couldn't stop or slow down. Expecting to be hit by lightning in a ferocious thunderstorm while crossing the equator on our way to the Canaries. Taking dozens of tacks while inching our way into East London, South Africa, against a strong outflowing current with
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