Quetzal - Kaufman 47 "... Never lost, just hard to find ..."

John Kretschmer Sailing

Training Passages - Workshops - Presentations - Expeditions - Writing/Photography

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A Serious Ocean

You know it by the northern look of the shore,
by the salt-worried faces,
by an absence of trees, an abundance of lighthouses.
It's a serious ocean.

North Sea off Carnoustie by Anne Stevenson

Tomorrow will have an island
by William Stafford

Tomorrow will have an island. Before night
I always find it. Then on to the next island.
These places hidden in the day separate
and come forward if you beckon.
But you have to know they are there before they exist.

Some time there will be a tomorrow without any island,
So far, I haven't let that happen, but after
I'm gone others may become faithless and careless.
Before them will tumble the wide unbroken sea,
and without any hope they will stare at the horizon.

So to you, Friend, I confide my secret:
to be a discoverer you hold close whatever
you find, and after a while you decide
what it is. Then, secure in where you have been,
you turn to the open sea and let go.

More Poetry...


The 2016 Schedule will be posted soon. In the meantime, an excerpt from Sailing a Serious Ocean, titled "John Kretschmer's Darkest Hour at Sea," was posted on Sail magazine's website in July. It's sure to fire your imagination for the adventure and potential peril of a blue water passage.

Sailing a Serious OceanSAILING A SERIOUS OCEAN: Sailboats, Storms, Stories and Lessons Learned from Thirty Years at Sea

My newest book is widely available. All humility aside, I am proud of it. It's an exciting mix of sea stories and seamanship. It's personal, humorous and at times terrifying. Learn what makes a boat blue water capable and how to handle it and the crew when the ocean turns angry. The book is filled with anecdotes and hard-won advice. I think you will like it. Autographed copies are available from my online store.

It's Time

Thank you for venturing into the far flung world of John Kretschmer Sailing. If this is your first time, welcome, otherwise thanks for dropping by again. As 2012 dawns I realize that I have been sailing professionally, if that's what you call what I do, for more than 30 years. I have lost track of how many offshore miles I've logged. When my sailing odometer ticked over 300,000 I stopped counting. I don't need to impress anyone, or prove anything, indeed, sailing that many miles might suggest that all I've done in my life is sail, and of course, that might be right. The amazing thing is that I am more passionate about what I do than ever before, and why shouldn't I be - I have a great gig. I love being aboard Quetzal, it's my natural realm, and the people that track me down and sign aboard are invariably intriguing. I remain devoted to providing unique and challenging sailing and travel opportunities for my clients and friends. It's what I do.

Quetzal sailing past the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland I am also committed to sharing useful information and hard won opinions about blue water and coastal voyaging, and more to the point in these interesting times, living life on your own terms. Deep ocean sailing in small boats, and at 47' Quetzal still qualifies as a small boat, offers a powerful blend of freedom and self-discovery. Joseph Conrad titled his sailing memoir, "The Mirror of the Ocean," and I love the phrase. There is nowhere to hide at sea and the image that reflects back at you from the face of a steel blue wave is brutally honest. Our passages are rarely easy and at times downright miserable, they're real. And they're rewarding. The people who sail with me buy, sell, invent, build, teach, cure, protect, they shake the world when they're ashore. But at sea, aboard Quetzal, they feel refreshingly small and profoundly alive. Time slows down at sea and somehow matters more, and what can be more important than your allotment of time?

I began my book, Flirting With Mermaids, with the line, "I make landfalls for a living." It's a good line, however as I get older and share my sailing experiences with more people I have come to realize that making landfalls, even the dicey ones, is the easy part of sailing. Making departures, pushing off the dock, unplugging the electronic handcuffs, that's the hard part?and that's where I can help. Take a good look at the site: the training passages, the expeditions, the workshops, the pictures and videos, even the poems, then send me an a email. Let's communicate. Sailing dreams are too fleeting to leave for another day. It's time, time to go to sea, and I look forward to sailing together.

Looking Back - Looking Ahead, 2012-2013 (and a peek into 2014)

Quetzal logged another 10,000 miles in 2011. Our many passages took us from Florida to the Bahamas several times, and then up the east coast of N. America to Maryland. From Spring Cove Marina in Solomons, Quetzal's home away from home, we headed east and crossed the Atlantic. Our first landfall, 15 days from the Chesapeake, was storied Horta in the Azores. After a brief visit we carried on north, across the 50th parallel to Crosshaven, Ireland. When land loomed on the grey horizon 7 days later we were across the pond. It was Quetzal's 5th crossing, and my 20th. We tarried in Ireland for most of the summer, exploring the dramatic south coast and being treated royally at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, our home base.

In the Fall, after a boisterous and wonderfully Irish send off, we pushed south, across the Bay of Biscay and along the Iberian Peninsula to Puerto Santa Maria near Cadiz. Our last passage of the year took us through the Straits of Gibraltar, to Morocco and finally to Almeria, Spain where Quetzal is resting until spring. My sincere thanks go out to everyone who sailed with me in 2011. We stood watches under canopies of stars and on calm seas, and we stood watch on dark nights and when the seas were anything but calm. That's what we do.

2011 also saw the first installment of JK University, a four-day intensive workshop focused on blue water passage-making skills and insights. Nine brave souls turned up in Fort Lauderdale, from as far away as Barbados, Brazil, Utah, San Francisco and Chicago. We covered a lot of material. We spliced line, assembled rigging terminals and discussed worldwide route planning and heavy weather strategies. The highlight was on Saturday when we launched a Switlik 6 person liferaft from the pitching deck of Blue Nomad, a 54' steel ketch, and scrambled aboard. Overall everyone was pleased with the workshop. The next JK U is scheduled for April 2012 and two are slated for 2013. Check the schedule and workshop tab for more information.

The 2013 schedule is posted, finally, and once again we have an amazing array of trips and passages scheduled. Check the schedule for updates and email me for more information on each passage.

French Canal Boat Trip 2012

Join us, July 21-28, for this year's canal boat trip. We will be cruising the River Loire that winds through the Loire Valley of the Burgundy region of France. Loire Valley is home to the famous Sancerre wine-producing region and is also known for its goat cheese. We will begin our journey in Chatillon Sur Loire, stopping for wine tastings en route and exploring local markets. We will visit La Charité Sur Loire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Ducal Palace in Nevers built in the 15th century, amongst other places. We will end our journey in the quaint town of Decize where 300 year old trees line the avenues in typical French style. The river and canals are lined with bike paths. Our boat is 50' and has four private double cabins, a large saloon and top deck. 6 spots are available. Cost $2400 per person includes everything but transportation. For more information, email Tadji Kretschmer at naamrod@aol.com.

Quetzal will be Mediterranean based in 2012 and most of 2013. A quick recap of 2012 looks like this: In April we will sail from Almeria to Barcelona, along the dramatic Costa del Almeria and Costa del Bravo. We will call into Ibiza and Majorca along the way. In May we will sail from Barcelona south to Menorca and spend 10 days exploring the beautiful Balearic Islands, including sandy Formentera, chic Ibiza and the stunning north coast of Majorca. In June we head from Majorca to Menorca then offshore to Sardinia and on to Corsica. This is one of my favorite passages, a combination of great sailing, great landfalls, great food, and great wine, basically a great passage. In August we depart Rome and sail to historic Elba before making our way around the rugged islands of Corsica. In September we find ourselves on the Amalfi Coast and head south to Sicily via the pristine Aeolian Isles. In October, we sail around Sicily, and visit Tunisia before finding our way to Malta where Quetzal will bunk down for the winter. Back on this side of the Atlantic, we'll wind up 2012 with the TransCaribe passage. This is a mix of serious passage making and Caribbean gunkholing. We will launch from Tortola and sail southeast, slashing across the trades on a three-day passage to Grenada. We will explore the Grenadines, making our way to Bequia, one of my three favorite anchorages in the Caribbean. Then we'll head offshore again, sailing nonstop to Tortola.

When 2013 opens we'll be on the other side of the world, in New Zealand. This ten day sailing and land expedition will include a week of sailing in the spectacular Bay of Islands, two days in Auckland, and two days in the Marlboro wine region of the South Island. Although it is currently sold out, I am considering adding a second boat so keep tuned in for updates. February will include another chance to attend JK U, and to sail Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas aboard Caribe, my dear friend Steve Maseda's Beneteau First 456 double headsail sloop. Later in the month, we'll do another TransCaribe passage from Tortola to the Grenadines and back. In March we get serious - serious as in heavy weather, as we sail from Malta across the Ionian and Aegean Seas, to Kusadasi, Turkey. This will be a challenging passage, the Med is lively in March. Landfalls will include Methoni, on the Peloponnese Peninsula, Iraklion, Crete and beautiful Samos.

Now here's the exciting news, we'll be making two Atlantic crossings in 2013 and into January of 2014. I will tell you now, don't wait to sign up for these crossings, they will fill early. The first passage I am calling, "East to the Azores." We will be sailing "Infinity," Harry and Velinda's handsome Tayana 47. Harry and Velinda have been frequent shipmates on Quetzal, including the transatlantic passage in 2008, and I look forward to sailing with them. Three berths are available for the 2500-mile nonstop passage from Annapolis, Maryland, to Horta, Azores, scheduled for May 4-20. The second Atlantic crossing will actually take place in January 2014 when we bring Quetzal home. The route will be from the Canary Islands to Antigua, scheduled for January 4-24. Five berths are available for this crossing and although it is two years away, I can assure you it will be sold out 18 months in advance.

Back in the Mediterranean, Quetzal has three exciting passages on tap for the Summer and Fall of 2013. The first passage will take us along the coast of Turkey from Marmaris to Istanbul. We will call at Bodrum, Chios, Lesbos, and the ancient site of Troy, near Canakkali before crossing the Sea of Marmara and into Istanbul. The next two passages are slated for autumn. In September we will sail from Turkey to Majorca, a 1500-mile passage in 15 days with landfalls at Athens, Siracusa in Sicily, and Cagliari in Sardinia. The second passage in October will take us from Majorca to the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Canary Islands via the Costa del Sol, Gibraltar, and Morocco.

Training Passages

Offshore Training passages are the heart and soul of John Kretschmer Sailing. These trips are unique and so are the people that find their way aboard. I am not a sailing school, there are plenty of those around and many do a fine job of teaching offshore sailing skills. What we do is different. We make passages, we make voyages. They're real, sometimes all too real, you are part of the crew. Each passage is comprised of crewmembers with varying levels of experience and we learn from each other. I learn something new on every trip. And you learn by doing, life aboard Quetzal is the epitome of 'hands on' training. You will stand watch in fair weather and foul. You will reef the main when it's blowing, maybe even blowing a gale. You will help with repairs, meals, and the dishes. You will revel in landfalls, especially because everyone shares the navigational responsibilities. There is nothing like navigating when it really counts to instill confidence. You can draw as much from a passage as you're willing to put into it. You may master celestial navigation and you may learn to bake bread. Or you may be more interested in learning how to pace yourself through a long voyage. Passage making requires a mix of philosophy and skills. And one thing I know from experience, you will have a lot of fun and laughs and make profound friendships.

But don't take my word for it; listen to some of the folks who have completed passages aboard Quetzal:


Rob Schlosser: "Hi John, I really wanted to thank you again for the great sailing experience and for the wonderful trip to the Bahamas last month! The two trips that I have taken with you have done a tremendous amount to bolster the confidence I have in myself, as a sailor and otherwise. And the difference in Patty is truly amazing. She has gone from being scared to even talk about sailing to planning our next trip. And eventually even trying to sail full time for two or three years! I wish I had a million dollars to send you to show my appreciation, but alas, all I have are these few words of appreciation. I hope you will accept them for what they are, heartfelt appreciation."

Dirk de Haan, Corpus Christi, Texas: "Susan and I had a great time, I know you know. You've seen the picture of her with Lady Liberty. Wow, what a fantastic trip THAT was. So nice to be able to do. It was really something, also, for our son Dirk, who sailed with us, because he had never seen Manhattan. The time of day we would arrive there, and the tides were all in our favor, coming in with the rising tide and leaving through East River on a falling tide. That canyon, by the way, can pack some serious winds. 20 knots, on a quiet, foggy day. Wow. Sailing Long Island Sound was very beautiful. What great scenery!! Entering Newport as well. There I took over the helm form Susan to do a lap in Newport Harbor. It was my 'victory lap,' a closing circle of sorts, since I started there with you on Quetzal. I will always remember that, and be grateful for your teachings and coaching."

The crew of the East Coast Offshore Passage makes landfall at Spring Cove Marina in Solomons, Maryland after a wild ride in the Gulf Stream
Jerry Polly, Madison, Wisconsin: "I would highly recommend a passage with John. I have done two. One from Key West to Isla Mujures and back and one from Bermuda to Newport. He is absolutely skilled in every conceivable way with respect to sailing. He takes safety very seriously but expects you to know your way around a boat. He does not mother the crew by telling them how to do everything. He is congenial all the time, almost to a fault. John is good humored, flexible, a great story teller, somewhat of an entertainer. You will have great fun with him. You will be left with other crew members on watch and it will be your job to make that work; he does not really referee, nor should he. You can pull as much learning as you want from John. He will not push it on you; ask and he will talk. Be quiet and enjoy the sea, and he will as well."

Barry Chessick, Chicago, Illinois: "I sailed with John from Annapolis to Antigua, a passage of 1500 miles that took ten days. For me, it was an experience of a lifetime. Besides bonding a lifetime friendship with John, a truly unique, capable and magnificent individual, the sights, scents, sounds of being 500 miles offshore are tattooed on my psyche forever. I experienced all the delights I had only read about before: the night sky glowing with millions of stars, dolphins playing, awesome sunsets and sunrises. Was it worth the cost? For me, and the memories that it brought, it was worth many times the cost, of course I wouldn't tell John that."

Joanne Matthews, Pensacola, Florida: "Regarding a long ocean passage on Quetzal with John as skipper? I can say without a doubt - go for it. We met John at a book signing a few years back and then signed aboard for a passage from Annapolis to Antigua. There were four crew members and we all got along wonderfully. A highlight was Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the trimmings, hundreds of miles from land. A couple of topics, politics and religion, were not discussed, but otherwise everything was on the table: books, boats, weather, sailing, cruising, travel, relationships. We laughed for 1500 miles over his crazy sailing adventures. He is clearly the captain but we all shared equally the shipboard duties. I have not doubt that in a time of distress, he would maintain a clear head. He also truly enjoys sharing his knowledge, stories, and love for the sea. He's an avid reader, and unfortunately, also sings on watch."

Gordon House, Kansas City, Missouri: "Considering a trip with John? Bottom line, GO FOR IT! A passage with JK may be the high point of your life, not to mention that it will make you the star of all the cocktail parties for years to come. John is an excellent skipper and has the uncanny ability to magically appear on deck just when you need him to assess a situation that you may be unsure of. You will never hear him raise his voice, even during the most trying situations."

Amy Stapleton, Huntsville, Alabama: "Before sailing with John, I'd never been on an offshore passage or sailed overnight. I wasn't sure I'd like going offshore, but my first passage on Quetzal sailing from St. Pete to the Dry Tortugas exceeded all my expectations. It was an awesome experience and although it was challenging, John made me feel very comfortable. He's also a great story teller and provides for lots of entertainment. These passages are not comfort cruises. They are hard work, but for me they have been a great confidence builder and have helped me get a lot closer to my personal sailing goals."

Ron Sorenson: "Sailing with John on one of his passages is simply a great open water learning experience. I've been on two trips so far (with more to come), and both were on Quetzal, John's boat. One was from Panama to Florida, the other was a Trans-Atlantic, and both were great. The Panama to Florida Trip was very relaxing. For me, the trans-Atlantic was the best. It gave me an outstanding exposure to open water sailing and what that can entail in both good and bad weather conditions. John's experience showed when we had some rough seas and his concern with the crew's safety was readily apparent.

John promotes a relaxed atmosphere on his passages. There's no rigid daily lesson plan that one must follow but there are learning opportunities galore. John works to make everyone feel that they are part of the crew and spends time with each person answering questions or helping them bone up on their navigational skills. And when he's not answering questions from the crew, John has terrific stories that he loves to share.

Lastly, sailing on Quetzal in the Atlantic during a heavy weather period proved to me just how safe and solid that boat is. She is truly passage proven. And I understand now why John is so fond of her."

James Leonard: "I've sailed with John on two different passages. Both involved some rather 'nasty' weather. Besides learning navigation, seamanship, problem solving and how to fix things, I gained a confidence from John that you won't get in a lot of other 'sailing schools.'

He's a pretty good cook and he tells a great story.

I look forward to going out with him again."

Rick Thomson: "I have known John Kretschmer for several years and in that time, we have sailed many nautical miles together! We have sailed in Greece, Tahiti, Australia, Thailand, the Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, and have crossed the Atlantic Ocean. We have been becalmed, knocked down, broken down, braved storms in winds of 60-plus miles per hour, but we have also witnessed unbelievable sunsets, breaching whales, green sea turtles, dancing dolphins, deep blue oceans, and brilliant white beaches, not to mention the beauty of the galaxies, moonlight on the water and shooting stars.

That being said, I feel totally at ease when sailing with John. John is the ultimate sailor. When the going gets tough, John can cowboy-up, or I guess I should say sailor-up. I've never personally known anyone physically stronger or more determined to achieve his objective. John totally immerses himself in the sailing environment. Celestial navigation, course plotting, and understanding charts are second nature to him. John is perfectly at home on any vessel. He knows boats and what to expect from them. He's a sailor's sailor!

On the personal side, John is the most personable guy I know. I have always said, "If you can't get along with John, you probably aren't going to get along with anyone." He is also an outstanding cook. I have seen John cook delicious hot meals in very rough conditions, when other skippers would be handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You must try his Mayan spaghetti!

Captain John Kretschmer is truly a one-of-a-kind sailor, who will show you a journey that you will share with others for the rest of your life."

George Archibald, Commodore of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron: "Hi John. Just wanted to thank you again for coming to RNSYS last Saturday. For the last week everyone who attended has been singing your praises.You were a great sport to drop in for our special night. I have been watching the weather and wondering if you got away, if you did I hope it has been better than the weather ashore. All the best, George"

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