Ocean Cruising Club

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Beth Leonard & Evans Starzinger

(s/v Hawk) Beth and her husband, Evans, traded in high-powered careers as management consultants for a life on the high seas. Back in 1992, they were at the pinnacle of their careers and about to be elected partners in the international consulting firm of McKinsey and Company. They took a hard look at their lives and decided they didn’t like the direction they were heading. They were living in Europe, working 60-hour weeks, seeing each other for a few hours on the weekends, earning more money than they could spend and having no time in which to spend it. They wanted to find a way to simplify their lives, interact with other cultures in a positive and constructive way and learn to live life instead of skating over it. Though they had almost no sailing experience, they purchased a 37-foot sailboat sight unseen, moved aboard three months later and set off from Newport to Bermuda on their first offshore passage less than a month after that.

Neptune humbled them on that first passage with 48-hours of storm-force winds and waves that towered over the mizzen mast. For 72 hours, they were so seasick they could keep nothing down, including water. By the time they made it to Bermuda they understood how ill-prepared they were to deal with the realities of handling a small boat at sea. Against all the odds they continued. Over the course of the next three years and 35,000 miles, they completed a voyage around the world that challenged their values, strengthened their relationship and taught them to tread more lightly on the planet. Along the way, they also began to build careers as internationally recognized sailing writers.

Within a few months of returning ashore in 1995 they realized that fitting back into their old lives would mean giving up many of the things their voyage had taught them to value. They determined to set sail once again with the goal of spending several years in some of the most remote and inaccessible areas on the planet. It took them four years to b