Mary Ellen was no stranger to hiking in mountains (even the Himalayas) or camping on beaches (those in Australia and New Zealand included) but she had never before been aboard a sailboat until she found herself a guest aboard a trimaran taking part in a “Sail Week” festival in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. After that, sailboats were a main focus in her life and soon she was “at home” aboard SAPO, a Lyle Hess designed, Sam Morse built “Falmouth Cutter” that was designed and built to cross oceans—and that is what Mary Ellen spent most of the next fifteen years doing. Mary Ellen was not a sailor when she first went aboard, so a lot of her time and attention was devoted to learning to sail – a pursuit that is, in her opinion, unending; no one ever learns it all, they just keep learning more and more. She found the Sea of Cortez to be a wonderful place, but after three years spent enjoying it and learning to sail, she dared expand her horizons to include the Marquesas in French Polynesia, 3000 miles or so to the southwest of where she was. And so began the west-around-the-world trip that first visited the rest of French Polynesia, Suvarov, and the Kingdom of Tonga in the fabled South Pacific, before zig-zagging back and forth across the equator westward to the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, and the Philippines. From the Philippines she crossed the South China Sea to East Malaysia and on to Singapore, where she turned northward up the Malacca Strait to Langkawi, Malaysia and Thailand. The Malaysia/Thailand region was her favorite part of the world. She spent six wonderful years there before again heading west. She crossed the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean to Madagascar, went south down the Mozambique Channel, around South Africa into the South Atlantic, and north into the Caribbean. Thus her itinerary; but along the way the reader can share the joy of being at sea amid leaping dolphins or under a blazing sun or pouring rain or any of many other phenomena available no other way—or so it was for Mary Ellen.
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