February 24, 2016
What is it like to spend 4 months in the Pacific Ocean, sailing from one exotic island to another, surviving fierce storms? Ask our Captain Larry Fisher and he will tell you that you can lose a lot of weight on the healthy diet of bananas and fish and that it is treacherous to sail north against the prevailing winds. So how did he end up sailing north from Tahiti to Seattle?
In 1989, Larry’s friend, Pat, set off to sail around the world with his family (wife, son and his son’s girlfriend) aboard his 45 foot sailboat, Eelyos. They arrived in New Zealand at the same time the Persian Gulf War started. Did you know that when traveling around the world (or, let’s call it the proper term – nautical circumnavigation), boats go in a western direction along with the trade winds? Since the typical route of a modern sailing circumnavigation is through the Suez Canal, the Gulf War made their travel plan impossible. Fearing the prospect of traveling back home alone against the winds, Pat couldn’t think of a better plan than to call Captain Larry and ask for help. Without hesitation, Captain Larry hopped on a plane and flew to Tahiti to meet his friend for what would become a four-month voyage.
They sailed to Hawaii, visiting beautiful islands along the way. Bringing a letter of introduction from one new friend to another, Larry and Pat hopped islands and enjoyed parties thrown in their honor. All it takes is a letter of introduction in that part of the world! New friends on every island would load their sailboat with bananas and supplies and bid them farewell with songs and dancing. What a life!
For their longest stretch at sea, the skippers traveled from Bora Bora to Hawaii in 23 days and survived on a diet of bananas, papayas, rice, tuna and bread. Captain Larry proudly states that he lost 23 pounds in 23 days!
Then the fun part of the trip was over. The 22 days from Hawaii to Seattle seemed endless…. sailing against the winds…. freezing temperatures…. and formidable storms. 600 miles off the coast of Oregon, the storm rocked the boat so hard that both sailors spent three days being tied to the mast inside the cabin! Finally they reached the shore and after briefly stopping at Neah Bay, the Eelyos triumphantly entered Seattle through the Ballard Locks. Wearing long beards and three layers of clothes (it was still freezing in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of June), the tired but happy sailors were overwhelmed by the crowd of friends and family greeting them at the Locks.
Waterways is proud to have Captain Larry at the helm of our yachts for over 20 years now! Don’t hesitate to ask him about his trip when you see him!