Sailors ride Moonbeam around the world
Since January 2013, islanders Ken and Lil Bardon have been experiencing the adventure of a lifetime.
The two transplants from Long Island, N.Y., have been on what will be a trip around the world in their 52-foot sailboat, Moonbeam, for the last two years.
The first leg began as Ken and several of his sailing friends from Marco and around the sailing world joined him for various portions of the journey. Local sailors Lee Henderson and Rob Reiley from Marco, along with Ken's, wife, Lil, have been with him during a number of the legs of the trip.
They've also been joined by friends from Canada, Europe and South America along with some new friends they've met along the way.
Last March, the Sun Times wrote about the trip's beginning that would take islander and friend Lee Henderson with Ken from Marco Island to Guatemala, where Lil joined them for the trip through the Panama Canal. She and Henderson would then return home as Ken continued with other members of his ever-changing crew of voyagers.
They then proceeded south, past the equator for their first time on this journey that would see Moonbeam only come north over that imaginary line once again in October, almost a year and a half since plunging below it. After going south below the equator, they would then proceed to the Galapagos Islands. After fueling there, they would turn west for 3,000 miles to the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific.
Lil would return and sail through the volcanic islands of the South Pacific for the next four months as they traveled through some of the most striking scenery and exquisite ports of call on earth. She would return home as Rob Reiley would fly in from Marco and join with a few of the changing faces aboard the Moonbeam as they made their way 1,200 miles to New Zealand, where Ken would leave the boat in Port Opua in October 2013.
Ken and local islander Rob Reiley would return to pick up Moonbeam at its temporary home in New Zealand at the end of March, where they would embark across the Tasman Sea with an additional crew of friends to Brisbane, Australia.
"We were lucky, we sailed between two significant weather events and made it into Brisbane without an issue," said Bardon. Reiley would disembark at Brisbane and Barton would continue up the coast to Carines.
Lil Bardon would fly to Carines, where she would rejoin her husband as they would spend the next four and a half months together with a crew of friends and another 20 boats on a journey along the coast of Australia and along the northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef.
The group was held up for about a month in northern Australia at the Port of Thursday, as there were some issues getting their visas for their group to enter Indonesia. While they were there, they took advantage of some sightseeing that was not on their itinerary. Renting a car for a 10-day trip around Darwin to visit national parks and the outback area of Australia, they took in some of the local scenery and visited some attractions.
"The only drawback to the unexpected delay came in how expensive it is in Australia," said Lil.
"A simple lunch per person could run upwards to $20," said Ken.
Bardon did say fuel was on a par of what it is here in the states.
Of the 21 boats they ran with in the rally group, there were minimum mechanical problems, although one boater required the help of some towing into anchorages. The Bardons and Moonbeam did have a problem with the boat's heat exchanger, which caused Ken to make some minor adjustments to how they ran when under power.
Love for the water
"It's just wonderful how helpful everyone is when you're together out there with a group of complete strangers, but sharing a love for the water," said Lil.
The group they were traveling with would proceed eventually to Singapore, but Moonbeam would be parting ways with them when they left the island of Bali in Indonesia.
Bali is a "destination venue" for many vacationing in this area of the world and is part of the "Coral Triangle." It has the highest biodiversity of marine species in this part of the world and a collection of more than 500 reef-building species in this area, about seven times as many in the entire Caribbean. It is a popular site for diving and snorkeling activities.
Lil would be leaving Ken behind in Bali as he continued his sail with other friends for the next 10 days to Phuket, Thailand.
Originally the plan was to sail beginning in 2015 from Thailand across the Indian Ocean and up into the Suez Canal and into a port in Turkey. Both Ken and returning crew member Lee Henderson both were ready to go until they took another look at the issues concerning Somali pirates off the coast of Africa and the deteriorating situation within Yemen and the destabilization of the Middle East due to the uprising of the terrorist organization ISIS.
Ken will now ship his boat, along with five others from the rally they sailed with from Australia to Bali, as a precaution. He will arrive in the next couple of days at Phuket, where he will do some work on Moonbeam to ready it for the trip into Marmaris, Turkey, where it will be off-loaded from the ship under his watchful eye.
He anticipates the shipment will take place sometime in March from Thailand and about three weeks to make the journey to Turkey.
Lil intends to meet him on the Greek island of Crete, where they both will enjoy a summer of exploring and new adventures throughout all of the Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea – ending up somewhere off the coast of Spain and meeting up with his next crew that will make the final leg of their journey back into the warm waters of Florida at the end of October, while Lil returns home and prepares for their arrival.
Keep checking in on Moonbeam here at the Marco Island Sun Times or online at marcoislandflorida.com