May 24, 2023

Next Chapters: Sailing Around the World

Ross H. Golding, MD

An Oyster 565, 56-foot sailing sloop named INFINITY

As a retiring radiologist reflecting back, I had little appreciation for the exciting professional career awaiting me as I walked out from oral boards 40 years ago. Similarly, I have found in post-retirement that it too can be more rewarding than first envisioned. Retirement affords us the opportunity to revisit past passions that life forced us to “put on the shelf.” Pulling these passions off the shelf can create exciting new chapters in retirement.

While I was contemplating what I could do to replace my passion for radiology, I received an invitation to a webinar showcasing the Oyster World Rally. After some serious thought, I decided to join the 2022–2023 Oyster World Rally and sail around the world. Feel free to follow our adventures on my blog:

Sailing has always been an amateur passion of mine, and as a youth I dreamed of one day sailing across the Atlantic. I considered myself a competent coastal cruiser having sailed the west coast of the U.S. and Caribbean for many years. There is, however, quite literally a world of difference between coastal cruising and blue water sailing. Consequently, the next 18 months suddenly got very busy.

I found myself dealing with a myriad of intimidating to dos and questions, but I solved the initial big two relatively quickly:

“Can I do this?” In short, I answered:

  • I’m retired and have the time.
  • I’m physically fit for 73.
  • It’s financially doable.
  • And most importantly, my family members are enthusiastic supporters.

How will I get a boat and crew?

  • The answer to my “who” was Oyster support.
  • Within two months I had a boat and crew lined up.
  • The myriad other details made the next 18 months pass in a blur.

Our trip started in October 2021 from Ipswich, England, where we picked up INFINITY, an Oyster 565, from the Oyster boatyard. INFINITY is a 56-foot sloop and she would be my home for the next two years. We left England, sailing through the English Channel and along the famous Dover cliffs. From there, we sailed onto the Brittany coast, remaining in Brest, France, to wait for better weather before tackling the Bay of Biscay.

Sailboat arriving in the harbor of Cape Town, South Africa with city and mountains in the background
Arriving in Cape Town, South Africa

Departing Brest, we crossed the Bay of Biscay, traveling on to the Canary Islands, west of northern Africa. In the Canaries we spent several weeks preparing to cross the Atlantic, my first ocean crossing. INFINITY covered the 2,766 miles in steady winds like a champ, arriving in Antigua 15 days later. After a quick trip home for Christmas, we returned to Antigua for the start of the 2022–2023 Oyster World Rally. The rally ended in Antigua, April 2023. One year later and more than halfway around the world, we spent Christmas 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa, with family.

Other than seeing amazing parts of the world, what are some takeaways? Here are a few that stand out:

  • At first, big dreams such as our circumnavigation seemed daunting and insurmountable. But this challenge became manageable when broken down into smaller parts. The rewards for stretching for your dreams are priceless.

  • In the middle of an ocean, worries about COVID and politics cease to matter. In fact, you don’t even think about them. Very refreshing.

  • Virtually everyone we have met is friendly, inviting us to enjoy their cultures and often their homes. With few exceptions, they love Americans.

  • People living on tiny islands, and also those in large countries, are struggling with the day-to-day reality of climate change. The effects take many forms — from small islands being physically overwhelmed by rising waters and more frequent storms to weather changes destroying traditional agriculture to large scale fires. No country seems exempt.

  • We have met many amazing new friends.