If, like me, you have ever dreamed of going cruising “someday”, you need to read the Log of Ithaka! This blog was our inspiration and I waited anxiously for every week’s new adventures. Later, sv Ithaka was the reason sv Winterlude spent six years cruising the Western Caribbean! I tracked Ithaka’s travels on our paper charts and we studied them extensively before leaving the Dry Tortugas for Isla Mujeres, Mexico and south to Cartagena, Columbia … and back.
The Log Of Ithaka tells a timeless story – about real cruising, relationships and characters, boats and technology, best Caribbean destinations, travel tips, and learning to live together in 39 feet 24-7. If moving aboard a boat and going cruising is a dream you’ve harbored, welcome to the world of Ithaka, and to two people who will make you believe that if they can make their dream come true, then you can do it, too.
She was the editor of Cruising World magazine, he was a psychologist in private practice, when they bought a 39-foot Shearwater cutter named Ithaka, quit their jobs, sold their house, and set off on the cruising adventure that would change their lives. In the six years that followed, Bernadette and Douglas Bernon sailed Ithaka from Newport, Rhode Island, up to Canada, down the American coast, along the coast of Central America, down to South America, and finally back up through the Bahamas and home to Rhode Island. As you read their highly entertaining blog, at first it seems as though they are destined to learn everything the hard way. But through the laughter and tears, the broken gear, the magnificent landfalls, the storms, adventures, fears, joys, and all the excitement, they became seasoned cruisers, and took us along for the journey.
The Log of Ithaka began when the Bernon’s left Newport, Rhode Island in 1999 and ended in 2007 after 218 log entries – one a week – illustrating the cruising life better than anything I have ever read — including my own Winterlude Updates. 1999 was two years before we bought Winterlude. Although we already had a “plan” – not just a “dream” - to go cruising, we didn’t have a boat, plus we both had jobs and owned our own companies.
I still get a thrill from reading back over some of the original Log of Ithaka entries and recalling the emotion evoked. In the final log post after making the decision to chase other adventures calling, Douglas summed up their time afloat:
When we first left Newport, Rhode Island, to go cruising, we had no idea how long we’d be gone or even if we’d like it. We told our friends and family to figure at least a year and then we might be back, but we hoped for much more than that. We hoped we’d take to this cruising life, that we’d manage the transition reasonably well, and would stay out longer. The very open-endedness of the whole adventure both thrilled and unnerved us.
In truth, several times we thought we’d turn back. Sometimes we felt overwhelmed — not up to the task before us. Many times in the early days of our voyage I felt frightened and unsure that I could handle the boat or the maintenance, the responsibilities or the intense relationship that is inevitably a part of a couple spending 24/7 in a small space and needing to rely on each other. But we persevered. We learned. We survived intact. Bernadette and I know how lucky we are to have had the health, the resources and the support to manage this experience.
THANK YOU to both Bernadette and Douglas Bernon for taking the time to document their adventures and inspire David and I to follow in the wake Ithaka left behind.