Islanders circumnavigate the world
Macy came home to Jamestown on a bright and sunny Sunday morning. It was exactly seven years to the day of her May 1, 2004 maiden launch. Aboard the 40-foot wooden sailboat were the intrepid sailors Julia Taylor and Dave Goss, who had realized their long held dream of sailing around the world.
Taylor and Goss left Jamestown on an overcast October day in 2007. Their journey took them around the world via the “milk route,” traveling west through the Panama Canal.
The journey was hardly a spur of the moment decision.
In fact, Taylor had dreamed of going around the world in a sailboat since she was a child.
“Ever since I was a little kid I said I wanted to build a boat and sail around the world,” Taylor said. “I worked on schooners, and decided that I would want a 60- or 70-foot schooner so I could take all of my friends sailing also.”
“I basically grew up there,” she said. “I lived in the garage apartment. It was my home in Jamestown for nine years, and my job, and my life.”
Around that same time, Taylor and her brother, John Graham, agreed that they had better get going on their shared dream of building a boat. They decided to look for a hull that they could finish. A week or two later, after seeing an ad in Wooden Boat magazine, Taylor was en route to Cape Cod to take a look at a 40-foot Bud McIntosh-designed hull that was for sale.
Accompanying Taylor on the trip to Wellfleet, Mass., was Macy Webster, the father of a childhood friend. Webster built houses and had also built his own boat. He mentored and supported Taylor every step of the way as her project moved forward in fits and starts.
Taylor bought the hull, and moved it into a shop the team built on Graham’s property in North Kingstown. There the work began in earnest. They thought the project would take about two years. But Taylor was working full time at the yacht club, and her brother, a doctor, also had limited time to spend on the project.
They soon realized that they were going to need the help of naval architects and hired a firm from Maine. Taylor did not like the design that the firm created.
“It was too modernistic,” Taylor said. “Macy and I took those plans and used them as a point of departure. We built a full-scale model of the boat.”
When her brother, and partner, sold his house and moved to Maryland, Taylor realized that she would have to move the boat. “It turns out that over in Newport there was this tradesmen’s condominium that was for sale,” Taylor said. “I saw it and I called immediately. My mother bought the condo and we moved the boat over there.”
Finally, around 2001, Taylor realized that she was going to have to leave her job at the yacht club if the boat was ever going to be finished.
Fate intervened when Taylor was racing her Ensign sailboat. During an island race, she met Goss, who also owned an Ensign. “He ended up almost immediately taking off one day a week from work and working on the boat with us,” Taylor said.
By this time, Webster’s health was failing, though he continued to come to the shop every day. The team made great progress and the boat was finally launched on May 1, 2004 in North Kingstown. Web- ster had died by that time and the decision was made to name the boat after him.
The plan was to set sail in the fall of that year. Various complications arose however and they returned home after three months. It wasn’t until 2007 that Taylor and Goss, both single parents with sons in college, were ready to begin their trip around the world.
“It was a lot of days at sea,” Taylor said. “Our longest passage was 24 days from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. We had really good passages most of the time. It requires more stamina than we realized. It’s not the physical kind of stamina, but the mental thing. You can’t say ‘I want to get off, I’m done today.’”
The journey was not without peril. “We got knocked down between Morocco and the Canaries,” Taylor said. “It was a gale and the seas were getting huge. There was a lot of shipping in the area. I wasn’t worried that the boat was going to sink. I was more worried about getting run over by a tanker.”
Almost as great a concern was the fog that engulfed this area as they approached Jamestown last week. “We couldn’t see anything,” Taylor said. “We relied on radar and a chart plotter.”
Among the many places that they visited, Taylor had a few favorites. “The Galapagos, Tahiti and the Marquesas were special,” she said. “New Zealand was my favorite place. Another place I really liked was Indonesia.”
With her dream realized and Macy back on her home mooring in Dutch Harbor, Taylor is now contemplating a future that she hopes will keep her in Jamestown.
Reflecting on her journey she said, “Somehow it happened. It just worked out. I’m the luckiest person on the planet.”