Worldwide Sailors Visit Ocracoke

Rob Temple

Worldwide Sailors Visit Ocracoke

Security.  Adventure.  We're all born with the desire for both. 

Too bad they're mutually exclusive.  The more we have of one, the more we crave the other.  Some of us have gotten so fed up with security that we've chucked everything, bought a boat and sailed off over the horizon.  Eventually, when security starts to look more appealing than more adventure, we drag our waterlogged arses back ashore but not before enriching our lives with new friends and lots of memories.

Al and Linda Scarborough have been there and done that.  Yesterday, Al came by with a friend he and Linda had met in the Bahamas in 1996, Lou Tucker now of the sailing vessel Serannity.  Actually, I'd met Lou, 79, and his wife Ann, 71, several times in the past on their many stopovers here on Ocracoke, but in the few years since I'd last seen them, they've sailed their vessel three quarters of the way around the world!

Later in the evening, I was able to catch the Tuckers for a short interview as they sat with Al and Linda on the front porch.  Ten minutes into it, I started to remember why I dropped journalism as a major at UNC so long ago.  Everybody was talking at the same time, including yours truly.  Seems I’ve always been more of a talker than a listener!

Lou and Ann left Lake Ontario in 1996 aboard their 30’ Irwin sloop and headed south via the Erie Canal and Hudson River.  The boat was rather Spartan compared with the one they sail now.

“It had no refrigeration,” Ann remarked.

“It did, too!” Lou retorted.  “Two cold beers every day!”

But it got them down to the Exumas where they met the Scarboroughs at SW Allen’s Cay. Mention of that place got us all off on a tangent about the iguanas we’d all fed and photographed there.

Two years later the Tuckers found Serannity a beautiful 48’ ketch built by Camper-Nicholson in Britain. They bought her in Annapolis and once again headed south.  When other matters called them ashore temporarily, they left the boat in Norfolk and asked Al to bring it down from there to Ocracoke. I was fortunate enough to be among the four guys Al asked to help him sail her down.  For the most part we had lousy weather but it was a very comfortable vessel and we had a lot of laughs.  To give you an idea of what that trip was like, I recommend that you read a couple of pounds of Peter Matthiessen’s Far Tortuga.

Eventually Lou and Ann took Al along for the leg from Ocracoke to Bermuda but since weather conditions didn’t favor the Bermuda stop, they proceeded on down to St. John, USVI.  

They made so many trips between Ocracoke and the Caribbean, it was like talking to most people about shopping trips to Nags Head.  They tended to lose count!  But finally in 2005 they transited the Panama Canal.  From there they visited Ecuador, the Galapagos, Marquesas, Tahiti, Fiji, and finally New Zealand where they laid over for a year. Why rush things? 

They spent another year in Australia and, after visiting Indonesia and Malaysia, they spent a year and a half in Thailand.  During all this time they made frequent visits back to the States by plane.  They also did some pretty extensive travels inland wherever they went, including a plane ride over Mt. Everest!

In Vanuatu they met a young Australian lass who talked her way aboard for the sail to Brisbane, Australia.  Turns out she was quite a sailor.  She told them of her dream to become the youngest person to sail around the world non-stop.  Her name was Jessica Watson. (See how that worked out for her!)

They called in at Sumatra and Padang then sailed through the Indian Ocean to Cocos-Keeling and finally to Mauritius where the boat now awaits their return from this stateside visit.

Serranity anchored off the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
Serranity anchored off the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean

Of course, I asked them if (and if so, how) they hoped to avoid capture by Somali pirates.  Lou explained that their course through the southern Indian Ocean should keep them safely out of range.

Their next plan is to sail to South Africa, thence to St. Helena, Ascension, Ireland and Scotland. After that they plan to drop their masts and explore the canals of Europe for a couple of years before going down the Danube to the Black Sea, through Turkey and on to the Med.

I strongly doubt if I’ve ever met anyone who’s seen more places in the world than this couple.  Give ‘em five or six more years  and they’ll probably hold a world record. Just listening to the brief summary of their adventures was enough to send me scrambling for the security of an armchair and a glass of something soothing!

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