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Moonbeam, a 52-foot sailboat based on Marco Island, on Saturday made its way back into the Marco River channel, escorted by Marco Island Police and Fire-Rescue Department marine units after spending nearly three years circumnavigating the globe.

Since 2013, Marco Islander Ken Bardon and his wife, Lil, have been making a dream come true on an adventure of a lifetime, as fans around the world followed the crew’s blogs on the Internet.

Bardon has guided his Island Packet, Model 485 sailboat from Marco Island while circumnavigating the world. He made his final push to his home port of Marco Island right after Thanksgiving.

Now that Ken Bardon is home, he has started the difficult job of cleaning up Moonbeam and making the necessary repairs.

“We have a number of things we need to have fixed or replaced,” said Bardon as he starts to take everything off the boat to be cleaned.

“I have a good three weeks work of grunt work,” said Bardon, who would later confess that he loved doing it. “I’m not the kind of guy that likes to just sit around.”

Passion

Ken Bardon was never one that wanted to just sit back and read a book after he sold his business in 2012, unless of course if it had to do with his passion for sailing. It was that passion and his desire to experience all that life has to offer which drove him in 2013 to push off from his dock on Solana Court and begin an adventure few only dream of.

City Manager Roger Hernstadt wanted to welcome Bardon home in a big way, so in conversations with Marco Police Chief Al Schettino and Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy they arranged a "Port of New York" (Bardon and his wife are both New York natives, as is Hernstadt) style of welcome for the captain of Moonbeam.

“What a great accomplishment for Ken, his wife and all those that joined with him these last couple of years,” said Hernstadt.

Both the fire-rescue boat and the police marine unit met Bardon and his crew at the entry to the Marco River channel and escorted him to his home dock. Sirens sounding, flashing emergency lights, a big water cannon display and a helicopter fly-by from the chopper that had just delivered Santa Claus to Mackle Park provided the backdrop for Bardon’s return to his home port.

Bardon and four crew members, the same four which just sailed with him when he left the island on the first leg of his journey to Guatemala and on through the Panama Canal in 2013, rejoined him for the final leg of the journey.

Reunite

“We just thought it would be great to reunite the original crew that sailed out of Marco in January of 2013 for our return in December of 2015,” said Lil Bardon.

When Moonbeam pushed off from the British Virgin Islands to head home, Lee Henderson from Marco Island, Nancy Devires from New Jersey, Michael Cain from Fort Myers and Alan Picard from Canada would complete the crew of five, as they would make their way back to Marco Island, with Capt. Ken at the helm.

Prior to making its way to Marco the crew did stop in Key West where they cleared U.S. Customs and made their final push to Marco and arrived around noontime to the mouth of the Marco River. It was there that they were met by a number of friends who sailed or motored out to meet them, including Bardon’s wife Lil on her friend’s sailboat.

Lil Bardon met her husband at various points along the journey and would stay for a couple of weeks to several months. During the course of the journey crew members would change, but the captain would remain. Ken Bardon did fly home a couple of different times during the journey to enjoy holidays with his family and friends here on Marco, while sharing some of the great stories he and Lil would impart to them.

“For me one of the nicest part of the voyage was the fact we didn’t have to stop in just the ‘touristy’ spots. We got to meet the real people of the countries we visited and made so many wonderful friends I’m sure we will continue to correspond with,” said Lil Bardon.

“The boating community, just like aviation, motorcyclists, RV enthusiasts and other groups creates a special bond between complete strangers,” said Ken Bardon. “Many of those that helped crew with me are friends I’ve made over the many years of sailing and even some just on this trip.”

When asked Bardon what his next adventure would be, he would only just smile, but did admit they would probably be sailing Moonbeam up to Long Island the next summer. However, compared to the 40,000-plus nautical miles he just completed, that should be a walk in the park.

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