ALL PHOTOS EXIT STRATEGY
Whale sharks are scary-big — and curious. Lower left: drift-diving Fakarava reef. Left center: 'Exit Strategy' at anchor. Above left and center: Friendly locals included a wild cockatoo and this group of Muslim women. Above: Exploring Minerva Reef.
the eruptions from the rim of the gigantic cauldron. We listened to it rumble and belch smelly sulfuric gas into the air until BOOM! Our hearts skipped a beat at the power of the eruption. Black, grainy ash shuddered visibly in the air before it blew fiercely toward us. We squinted and coughed in the dusty air as molten lava spewed 500 meters into the darkening sky. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, too, and once was enough! Flotsam and Jetsam — In Cape Town, we discovered that one of our bow thruster blades was missing. It reminded me of how much flotsam and jetsam we'd dodged, particularly since leaving Australia. Without a doubt, the most challenging waters to navigate in this regard were in the Malacca Strait. Avoiding fishing nets and bamboo platforms in Indonesia was like trying to sail through an unmarked obstacle course. And sailing after dark was like trying to complete the course blindfolded. The sheer volume of floating trash was shocking, although I suppose we shouldn't have been too sur-
Birdsong — Golden Wave 42 Michael and Cybele Thirkill Soloing the Clipper Route Brookings, OR After traveling south on the 2014 Baja Ha-Ha and spending the winter in coastal The adventure begins — heading out the Golden Gate in 2014.
land. By evening, the wind was screaming. Tom somehow managed to sleep (he has great confidence in our anchor), while I stayed up in the center cabin, whiteknuckled, watching the frothy white surface of the sea swirl up into little waterspouts spinning around our boat. One particularly nasty gust reached 65 knots (Force 12!). Fortunately, the only damage to Exit Strategy was the loss of our bimini — the frame twisted like a pretzel and the canvas ripped to shreds. A Taste of Volcanism — On the island of Tanna, Vanuatu, we met villagers who were recovering from a recent, devastating cyclone (Pam). Aid often doesn't reach small, remote villages on remote islands, and it certainly hadn't reached Tanna. In spite of losing their homes and nearly everything they owned, they remained positive and determined to help each other recover. We shared as many items as we could spare to help out — everything from housewares and clothing to tools. As thanks, we were guided to the top of an active volcano just before sunset to watch
prised. Three-hundred million people live in Indonesia and Malaysia, and very few areas have the infrastructure to handle the garbage. So most of it ends up in the sea. Even along the shore of an expensive resort on Bali, we watched as staff went about their early morning task of digging holes in the sand and burying the accumulated garbage brought in by the tide the previous evening. Temporarily Marooned at St. Helena — The island of St. Helena is a very special place because of its location — 2,000 miles west of Namibia and 2,500 miles east of Brazil; and its fascinating history, which includes Napoleon spending the last years of his life in exile there. While we were there, conditions got so rough that the Coast Guard closed the port for a couple of days. Without the little water taxi to transport us to shore, we were essentially marooned on the boat until conditions abated. Fortunately, the weather improved enough for us to get to shore and do some sightseeing. We had a guided tour of the island from the back of an open pick-up truck driven by an 82-yearold local with cataracts (making it even more memorable), we climbed 699 steps to the top of Jacob's Ladder for a stunning view of the Atlantic, and even swam with whale sharks at least seven meters long, who had mouths big enough for a human to fit inside. Our guide reminded us to keep a safe distance and avoid touching them, which, given the sharks' curious nature, was diffcult to do! — Kim 6/10/19 Readers — Look for more of Tom and Kim's extraordinary experiences next month. Exit Strategy is currently in Grenada. As for completing their circumnavigation, Tom figures it might happen in two years; maybe three. "What's the rush?"
The September 2019 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.