Looking Back

Ben Zartman reminisces on four years of cruising aboard Ganymede.
Antigone Zartman enjoys the view off Cozumel, Mexico. Danielle Zartman

It seems a shame to break the flow of narrative as successive blog postings take you with us from faraway Newfoundland back to the safety of home waters again, and I apologize for doing so with this posting stuck edgewise, as it were, into the story. But I would be remiss if I failed to mark a major milestone—an anniversary which though modest in the greater scheme of things should not go by unnoticed.

November 2nd marked the fourth anniversary of the beginning of Ganymede’s voyage. It was on this day in 2009 that we cast off lines from a small marina in Stockton, CA, bound for San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and Cabo San Lucas. We didn’t know where we were going to go; there was talk of Hawaii and of the Panama Canal, but all we had really allowed ourselves to count on was six months in the Sea of Cortez. One thing led to another, like a trail of crumbs followed by a bird, often with none but the next crumb in sight. Four years later, taking stock, we find we’ve travelled over ten thousand sea miles, visited nine foreign countries, and met hundreds of wonderful people. The child that started out in diapers is beginning to read; the one that played astride the tiller now can steer the boat with it. Ganymede has safely taken us as far south as seven degrees of north latitude and as far north as 51 degrees.

We have travelled in two oceans, two seas, four major gulfs, and along or around any number of rivers, canals, waterways, bays, headlands, capes and islands.

From iguanas and marmosets in the steaming tropics to whales, puffins, and codfish in the north Atlantic; from coconut trees to icebergs; from sleeping on deck for coolness to wintering snowbound under shrink-wrap canopies, Ganymede has been our beloved home these last four years. As this milestone passes, we find ourselves still cruising, just returning to Newport, RI from a circumnavigation of New England, with a long detour around Newfoundland. Looking back at everything we did over the last four years, I can’t think of much I’d change. I certainly wouldn’t do anything drastically different in Ganymede’s construction or layout, and there’s not many places we went I’d have wanted to skip (there are a few I wouldn’t care to return to again, but were worth seeing once). On the whole, we’ve had a great time, and Ganymede has proved everything and more that we could have hoped of a home-finished boat.


Of course we don’t know what we’ll do next, nor where, if anywhere, further we’ll sail; the future is too uncertain to count on such things, as our drastic change of plans this summer taught us. But it’s nice, as we settle in to another cozy winter and reflect on the four years of unforgettable seafaring behind us, to be still afloat, still aboard, and still excited to see what lies ahead.

We are the Zartman family: Ben & Danielle, and our three girls, Antigone, Emily and Damaris. We created this blog to chronicle our sailing adventures on Ganymede, a home-finished 31-foot gaff-rigged cutter, which has been our home since 2009, when we sailed from San Francisco, California, to the Sea of Cortez, then down along the Central American coast.


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