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

John Kretschmer Sailing

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


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...
Expeditions 2012

The Darwin Expedition: January 5 - 25

Click for full-size view! This remarkable three week sailing adventure begins on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal. We will be sailing on "Blue Nomad," a robust 54' steel ketch that has been around the world and around Cape Horn. New owner, Paul Gregory, has completely refitted her for world voyaging, she's a magnificent sailboat. Built by van Dam in Holland, she has a large, covered cockpit and accommodations for 8. Like all of my trips, we will share in all duties, from cooking and cleaning to full watch standing and sail handling. There are two private double cabins forward, with over and under bunks, and a large double aft. There is also a single aft and a convertible berth in the main saloon.

Once the crew assembles on the 7th we will transit the canal on the 8th and 9th. Once in the Pacific, we'll head offshore for Cocos Island, a four-day 600-mile passage. Cocos island is remote and spectacular. It is a Costa Rican National Park and rarely visited. In fact, other than the rangers, it is uninhabited. And while we will explore the lush mountainous island, it is the sea life that makes Cocos truly unique. From sea turtles to hammerhead sharks the waters are teeming with life. We will spend two days on a mooring, and then shove off for the Galapagos, a 2- day 400-mile passage.

Click for full-size view! We will have six full days in the Galapagos Islands, the islands that changed the way we think of the world and ourselves. We'll make landfall at Academy Bay on Isla Santa Cruz. This is the most populated island in the archipelago and we'll make arrangements for the rest of our stay. We will actually take a naturalist aboard, a requirement, and explore Islas Isabellas and San Cristobal. From giant tortoises to penguins to iguanas, we'll be treated to a wildlife spectacular. We'll also make forays ashore to the calderas on Isabella and also visit remote and famed Post Office Bay and lava tubes on the Floreana island. I am thrilled at the prospect of this expedition. I have sailed by the Galapagos before but never tarried. We will clear out at Wreck Bay and head for the mainland of South America. This 500-mile passage will take 3- days and we'll end up at La Libertad, a new marina complex near Salinas. Ecuador is awakening as a tourist destination, and we'll arrange flights out of Quito.

This is a remarkable expedition. The fee of $6800 includes all costs except airfare to Panama and back from Quito and meals ashore. Please let me know as soon as possible if you're interested in joining us and I'll send along details.

Expeditions 2010

Caribbean Circumnavigation

In the spring of 2010 we are set to begin an intriguing circumnavigation of the Caribbean basin in three legs. The purpose of this expedition to have fun, sharpen sailing and navigation skills, and to informally document what's left of working sail in the region. Check the schedule for the specific dates of each leg.

Leg one will begin in St. Martin. We'll sail south to Saba, the island that defies imagination. There's not much working sail on the island but the culture is one of the most unique in the Caribbean. We'll continue south to St. Kitts where there are still some West Indian schooners about, and hopefully we'll be able to track one down. St. Kitts is home to Brimstone Hill, a well-preserved English fort that has been called, the Gibraltar of the Caribbean. Then we'll sail overnight to Dominica, a lush, undeveloped island. We'll make our way up the jungle lined Indian River, a beautiful natural preserve. Next point south is St. Lucia, after another overnight sail. Then we press on to Bequia, the heart of the Grenadines. Here we'll meet with local boat builders, and help launch a local sloop. These are beautiful boats and they help preserve the swift, seaworthy designs that defined many of the Caribbean's working boats. From Bequia, we'll make a passage south to Grenada, and then on to Trinidad, the Caribbean's current sailing center. This leg is 10 days and covers 600 miles.

Leg Two will begin in Trinidad and take us west to the crystal clear waters of Los Roques Venezuela. We then continue on to Curacao in the Dutch Antilles. From there we will head offshore, skirting the coast of Colombia and making landfall in Cartagena, the former colonial capitol that is one of the Caribbean's most beautiful cities. This is a three day passage. We'll catch our breath in Cartagena before pressing on to the San Blas Islands off the remote Darien coast of Panama. Working sail is alive and well among the Kuna, indigenous people who call these atoll islands home. The Kuna sail sleek dugouts with generous lateen rigs. We will explore several islands working our way west to Portabello, another great landfall and a vestige to Panama's colonial past. Finally, we'll angle northwest to Bocas del Toro, a bustling area lining deep jungle edged bays and a bit of welcome civilization to wind up the passage. Bocas is a good spot for arranging airfare back to the states. This passage will combine a couple of two and three day passages with several day sails as we skirt the southern edge of the Caribbean. This Leg is 14 days and covers 1200 miles.

Leg three will take us north from Bocas to Corn Island, Nicaragua, another area where working sailboats still carry loads and passengers to and from the mainland. From there we will make an offshore passage north to Roatan in the Bay Islands of Honduras. We will spend a couple of days exploring the islands, particularly Cayos Cachinos where I have seen and sailed working dugout canoes many times in the past. We will head for Belize next, and enter the reef at Ranguana Cay. Then we will make our way north, protected, magical sailing. The trades whistle in over the reef but the seas remain flat. The Belize sloop is still the choice of many working fisherman. Typically around 25' long, each sloop carries several nesting dugouts as well. The dugouts are used by conch divers and the sloop serves as the mother ship. It will be exciting to sail these nimble craft. We will exit the reef at the Ship Channel, and carry on north making landfall at Banco Chinchorro, a genuine atoll off Mexico. Our final destination will be Isla Mujures, just next to Cancun but a world apart. The natural harbor will be ideal for winding up our Caribbean circuit and the town is still charming. Flights from Cancun are numerous and cheap. This Leg is 14 days and covers 1000 miles.

Around the Rock - A Voyage Around Newfoundland in Two Legs

I confess, I can't wait to get back to Newfoundland next summer. A trip around the island is expedition sailing at it's best. It's the 15th largest island in the world. It's larger than Cuba, and nearly 5 times larger than the big island of Hawaii. It spans five degrees of latitude, from just about 47 to just about 52 degrees north. Canadian writer Farley Mowatt describes it best: "Newfoundland is of the sea. A mighty granite stopper thrust into the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, its coasts present more than 5,000 miles of rocky headlands, bays, capes, and fjords to the sweep of the Atlantic." And while the people are indeed memorable, there are not many of them. The island is wonderfully undeveloped and many of the outposts have just a few hundred people struggling to make a living. When Quetzal pulls along one of the strong government wharves, she and her crew are treated royally. And I know in my soul that this is the time to explore Newfoundland, times are changing. The island is prospering again, offshore oil has replaced Cod and the oil that greases the economy. Adventure travel is taking route. Ten years from now Newfoundland will be known as a prime adventure travel destination, you can feel it in the air. Back to my theme, about time, now is the time to explore Newfoundland.

Our expedition will have two, 16-day legs. This is long enough to really get a feel for the land, the people and seas that define the Rock.

Leg one will begin in Sydney on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. This starting point, which is easier to fly to than other locations, (there are direct flights from Toronto to Sydney and plenty of commuters from Halifax) allows us to begin our expedition by crossing the Cabot Strait. This is a right of passage, the Cabot Strait protects Newfoundland from casual sailors. It also allows for us to begin on the south coast. We will make landfall at Burgeo, and then explore this rugged coasts of fjord, broad bays, and narrow inlets. We will stop at Ramea, Grey River, Rencontre, and Burin. We will also call at St. Pierre and Miquelon, an odd and wonderful French outpost just off the coast of Newfoundland. Then we'll round Cape Race and make our way up the Avalon Peninsula, calling at Ferryland along the way. This is the site of the first European settlement and a truly magical community. Then on to bustling St. John's, which most Canadians will admit is the musical center of the country. We will continue north to Trinity Bay and then on to the stunning natural beauty of Notre Dame Bay. Speckled with islands and devoid of fog, we'll make our way to the marina at Lewisporte to conclude this leg. All in we'll sail 700 miles, mostly in log challenging day sails and also by making several overnight passages. We'll see whales, basking sharks, seals and puffins.

Leg two will commence from Lewisporte and wind north through Notre Dame Bay past Cape St. John. We'll then head across White Bay to the rugged Grey Islands, a place where icebergs have been spotted year round. Then we'll continue on to St. Anthony near the tip of the island and visit L'Anse aux Meadows, the site of the only known Viking settlement in N. America. We'll then head through the Strait of Belle Isle and call at Red Bay on the coast of Labrador, the other half of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Here we will explore sites of former Basque whaling centers from the 16th century. Next we head south, for a passage to the stunning fjord of Gros Morne National Park. This Unesco World Heritage site is truly breathtaking to behold. We will then continue south to Corner Brook, the second city of Newfoundland before crossing the Cabot Strait again and landing back in Sydney, Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia.

Expeditions 2008

John Kretschmer Expeditions was launched in the summer of 2008 with our ambitious around-the-world expedition. This sailing/travel adventure was, I must say, a great success. Nine of us assembled in Los Angeles and flew to Papeete, Tahiti. We then chartered a Bahia 46 Catamaran from the Sensual base in Raiatea. After a week of spectacular sailing we flew on to Sydney, Australia. We spent three days in town before heading up to Hamilton Island and a week of sailing along the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands in a Beneteau 50 sloop. Next up was Thailand, where we tarried for a couple of days in Bangkok before a week of sailing in Panang Bay near Phuket. Finally we made our way to Athens and after three days of taking in antiquities, took a bus to the northern Sporades group. Another week disappeared drifting about this sun baked archipelago. In each of the last two charter destinations we had a Lagoon 41 catamaran from Sensual. We were exhausted (mostly from schlepping bags) when he reached JFK, but proud of our 35 day trip. Now that's the way to sail around the world. A feature article will soon appear in Sailing Magazine, and will be reprinted on the site.


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