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Maryland Family Braves Frigid Atlantic Waters On Sailing Expedition

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The Johnson family of Oxford, Md. is departing on a year-long sailing expedition around the world in their 62-foot catamaran, named Elcie.
Tara Boyle
The Johnson family of Oxford, Md. is departing on a year-long sailing expedition around the world in their 62-foot catamaran, named Elcie.

Imagine setting sail on the Chesapeake Bay. The wind is at your back, your sails are swelling in the breeze... and it's a balmy 36 degrees outside.

This is the time of year when most sailors stay put and dream of warmer days to come. But Richard and Jessica Johnson of Oxford, Md. didn't want to wait. So they recently set off on a year-long sailing expedition on their 62-foot catamaran, Elcie. The trip will take them and their children around the world, from the Eastern Shore all the way to New Zealand.

We first met Richard and Jessica last fall, when they were preparing for their trip. Since then, they've set sail, along with 11-year-old Emma, 9-year-old Molly, 22-year-old mate Annie Rae, and guests from far-flung locales.

"We departed Oxford... with eight people on board, and started making our way down the Chesapeake [Bay]," says Jessica. "It's a challenging time of year to depart the Chesapeake, and waiting for the right weather to go offshore."

After a brief stop in Beaufort, N.C., the crew departed en route for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"We're on our way to the Caribbean," says Jessica. "The crew seems pretty excited. It's a beautiful sailing day."

Richard says it's immediately clear once your boat is beginning to reach tropical waters.

"If flying fish are the sign of getting to the tropics, I think you could say we made it this morning," he says. "Through the night, the deck has been pelted with flying fish. We have three of them in the netting right now."

From the Virgin Islands, the Johnsons will head further south into the Caribbean before making the transit across the Panama Canal and into the Pacific.

"So far the trip's been rather bumpy," says Richard. "From all signs in the weather it looks like it'll be smooth sailing ahead for at least three or four days. So onward!"

[Music: "Parfum des iles" by Kali on Putumayo French Caribbean]

MC: Year-Long Sailing


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