On August 3, 2019 Verbena began her voyage starting from the X-Yachts facilities in Haderslev, Denmark. From August 2019 till March 2020 we sailed from Denmark to French Polynesia. We were then stuck due to Covid-19 related boarder closings for all countries west of us. In August 2020 we shipped the boat back to Wilmington NC on the US east coast and then sailed Verbena back to Mystic CT where the boat was sold. Here is the story of how our route came to be.
Our year at sea was 99% about the trip, but a goal and a plan is a necessity. Renee and I have never sailed the Pacific ocean nor the southern hemisphere so Australia and all the remote ports along the way became a natural goal.
Global weather patterns are such that the least chance of storms, hurricanes or cyclones is to be at the middle of the south pacific around the end of March. This sets up a standard sailing route called the ‘Coconut Milk Run‘ from the Panama Canal at the end of January to Australia’s east coast by August.
When originally contemplating our year at sea, we naturally thought we’d leave from our home port of Boston. But, to avoid east coast hurricane season you shouldn’t leave New England before November. Had we left from Boston we would not be able to safely get to the Caribbean before December. The early November trip from Boston to the Caribbean is one that Renee and I had done in 2002 and left a scaring memory of some of the most stormy conditions we’ve ever experienced. That coupled with complication around what should the kids do from September to November about school left a November Boston departure less than ideal.
In searching for a boat for our voyage, a sailor friend and boat broker Francis Shiman-Hackett suggested the X-Yachts X-55 as a good boat for our criteria (I’ll write more about our criteria another time); only issue is all X-55’s for sail were in Europe. Another sailor friend and professional captain, Josh Summers, then gave me the brilliant idea to start in Europe over the summer instead of in November. We will still get to the Caribbean and the Pacific on the same schedule and add a whole European arm to our adventure. What’s another ocean crossing amongst friends, right?
Until March 2020 we more or less followed our initial route plans. Then, soon after reaching the Marquesas country boarder closings caused by the global pandemic cause us to stop moving west as intended. Instead we spent 5 months in French Polynesia cruising between the the French Polynesia Tuamotus Islands and the Society Islands. We then shipped the boat back to the US via a Sevenstar transport freighter and met the boat in Wilmington North Carolina. We sailed Verbena up to Mystic Connecticut in September 2020 and then sold the boat officially ending our year long family live-aboard voyage.