Wind, the link between Oklahoma and the Ocean.

When a fateful sail in Port Townsend Bay struck a harmonic chord of memories with childhood on a cattle ranch, I was transformed.  The strange new horse - a boat - was immediately familiar. The horizon called. The profundity of the experience led to pursuit of a Ph.d., a move from Alaska to Hawaii and a decade sailing the ocean - one passage at a time, a circumnavigation of the world.

The first passage was a long overnight from Kauai to Oahu. Next was a 3-week passage from Honolulu to Port Townsend, Washington; then a 6-month voyage from Newcastle, Australia to Kauai via New Zealand, Cook Islands and French Polynesia.

A year into my doctoral research I interviewed Captain Nancy Erley who circumnavigated the world with an all woman crew. She, was now teaching offshore sailing in the Pacific and needed a First Mate for two upwind passages: Tahiti-Marquesas and Tahiti-Hawaii.  With a stomach of steel, ocean voyaging experience and a fondness for tradewinds, I joined her crew. We made those passages with two women on each leg and by the time we spotted Mauna Kea two months later, we were set to sail as a team teaching women on ocean passages for the next six years.

Sailing is only one skill needed to sail around the world. We loved the engine, too.  Photo by Alice Merrill

Here's the itinerary of the circumnavigation by country.  To the right is a map. Check the Woman of the Wind Blog for stories about some passages. Use the search box to type in the name of the country or a topic of interest.  Enjoy!

 Circumnavigation Passages: By Country

Tahiti to Marquesas;  Tahiti to Hawaii;  San Diego to Mexico;  Mexico to Guatemala;  Guatemala to Nicaragua; Nicaragua to Costa Rica;  Costa Rica to Panama;  Panama to Galapagos;  Galapagos to Marquesas;  Marquesas to Tahiti; Tahiti to American Samoa; American Samoa to Tonga; Tonga-Minerva Reef to New Zealand; New Zealand to Australia;  Australia to Indonesia;  Indonesia to Singapore;  Singapore to Malaysia;  Malaysia to Thailand;  Thailand  to Malaysia (I singlehanded this leg);  Malaysia to Maldives;  Maldives to Chagos;  Chagos to Seychelles;  Seychelles to Mayotte, Comorros;  Mayotte to Madagascar;  Madagascar to Mozambique;  Mozambique to South Africa;  South Africa to St. Helena;  St. Helena to Brazil;  Brazil to Trinidad;  Trinidad to Venezuela;  Venezuela to Panama;  Panama to Galapagos;  Galapagos to Hawaii (38 days);  Hawaii to Port Townsend.  

TV news media met us in Seattle at the end of the circumnavigation. So did my family from Oklahoma.

We completed the circumnavigation in August 2001 and were welcomed home with a big celebration of friends at Seattle's Bell Harbor. 

Our arrival was one month before September 11, 2001. In the months following those events, Nancy and Tethys settled into Seattle and I moved to Port Townsend and began what became a decade of work with the Wooden Boat Foundation and Festival. 

The voyage of Tethys continues to inspire our work independently and as colleagues in the world of women and boating.

Presentations by Kaci Cronkhite include:

  • When a Cowgirl Goes to Sea
  • Woman of the Wind
  • Versions adapted for age, time and sailing skills