Pendana’s World Trip

pendanablog image world trip

Be scared of what doesn’t change!

The crew of Pendana, (our much loved Nordhavn 62) are going to embark on a full-time slow circumnavigation of planet earth (well, as much as we can without running into the end of a Somali pirate’s gun). As a family we have thought long and hard about this change in direction and with the help from some very special people, Ken and Roberta Williams (San Souci), David, Kathryn and Ayla Besemer (Three at Sea), Prof David Bennett AO (Clinical Professor), Captain Mark James (Professional Mariner), Craig Brent-White (Master Mariner unlimited), Mrs Judith Poole (Educator), Peter and Margaret Sheppard (N55 owners) and many others we feel the opportunity is now and that we should seize the day!

The Besemer family, from “Three at Sea” sent me a quick message after I told them of our decision which reads as follows.

“James, as you begin your preparations in earnest, we offer these words from Mark Twain:

‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’”

Most appropriate, thank you David.

With discussions had, fears (almost) overcome, and plan in place, Pendana will leave Australian shores and venture into international waters departing in April 2015.

I have prepared a very quick video showing a very rough plan of our voyage, which is to come:–4. This video doesn’t list all the places we will visit and perhaps some we won’t, it is a quick mock up to give some idea of where our heads are at. Importantly the video does try to correspond with the appropriate weather patterns for taking on such a voyage during specific times of the year, thanks to World Cruising Routes by Jimmy Cornell.

There is little doubt that the Ellingford household is full of excitement and some in-trepidation as we plan and commit to the above undertaking. We are sure that this will be a wonderful, life enhancing experience for all aboard Pendana. Time will tell!

Life has so many lessons to teach and both Claire and I are firm believers that by exposing oneself to all that life, has to offer (the good, the bad and the ugly) then we as people grow and gain perspective. Learning is done through text books but real understanding only comes from direct experience.

Life without challenge is no life at all and while Claire, the children and I live a comfortable, safe existence, it is not one with a great deal of challenge. For some this may be perfect but for us, we want more. We want to truly experience all this planet has to offer and the only way to do that is to expose ourselves and take the chance that we will be fulfilled. As there are no guarantees in life, I guess this is where the courage of our convictions kick in. 

So, there you have it, Pendana is going to travel the oceans of the world – the purpose for which she was built. Two adults, two children, three cats and one very, very happy dog, ‘Caesar the Magnificent’ will embark on a trip, a voyage of discovery.


Caesar for one is very excited!

There have been many hurdles to overcome, decisions to be made and no doubt many still to come but below are but a few of the more important ones we have either worked our way through or are working our way through.


The list keeps growing.

US Visa – As Australians arriving by private boat in US Waters we have to have a US Visa. As such, we have applied for a US B2 Tourist visa that will allow Pendana to say in US continental waters for a period of up to five years with visa waivers being issued by US Customs and Boarder Protection during our stay. Without these types of visas and the help from the US Embassy here in Australia this trip would not be possible.


Schooling – Schooling is of paramount importance to most parents and Claire and I are no different. To date, we have narrowed it down to two options which look like they will provide the perfect fit of rigorous education as well as provide the flexibility we need during certain passages. 

One thing I am confronted with is people’s views about how the girls will be disadvantaged through not being able to socialise with peers of their own age. What I would say, is that there is no research whatsoever for this statement to be made and as such, we can only let time tell if our decision was right or wrong. Regardless both girls WILL meet children as they travel, they WILL form friendships and they WILL gain enormous understanding of life in different countries along the way.

I have always maintained that what counts in life is one’s ability to hold a conversation, be interested and engaged, be interesting, have perspective, understand how cultures vary, gain a sense of self and a clear understanding of where one fits in this world. What is not important is the size of one’s house, the cost of one’s car, the latest fashion trends or the features on Apple’s new product offering etc as these things are of zero value in the grand scheme of life.

We firmly believe that our girls will gain an insight and perspective in their lives and the world we live that no amount of text books or education could duplicate. As such, for the question of socialisation I will leave that to one side for now and simply say that life has, and always will reward the brave and bold and while I am not sure if what we are doing is brave or not is sure as hell feels that way sometimes!


Animals – Three cats and one large dog. Bottom line is that our animals as part of the family so there is no choice, like it or not, they have to come. GPS tracking collars for the cats, tender boarding ramp for Caesar, lifejackets for all and bulk kitty litter will be the order of the day.

Customs and Quarantine – Claire is the Admiral in charge of country clearance requirements in and out and all quarantine matters (I am sure there is a book in this). This, as most would know, is a huge undertaking and I for one am pleased she has agreed to do this with the gusto required to take on such a challenge. She is now busily preparing Rabies shots for the animals, GPS tracking collars for the cats when in port and the three thousand other items required to ensure the animals are not subjected to any lengthy quarantine periods. 


At this stage the plan is bond all animals on the boat until we reach Hawaii where, if we have completed all the paperwork correctly they will be accepted into the US 5 day quarantine program and where their paws will hit terra firma for the first time in about three months.

BLOGS – as part of this adventure, and as a reminder to our children of all that they have achieved as they get older, Abi and Bianca will be setting up their own (Talkspot) blogs to capture the journey from their perspective, as well as provide a platform for them to share the trip with their friends back home, as well as the new friends they meet along the way. The charming Claire who is always ready for something out of left field is either going to have her own page on or (drum-role please) even have her own blog (yet to be decided). 


Boat and Medical Insurance – This was a nightmare trying to find a company who will insure us without requiring that we return to Australia every 12 months and was becoming a somewhat irritating process, until we discovered Pantaenius, a German, Lloyds of London underwriter who offered some very competitive and incredibly comprehensive policies. I am pleased to say that we will be signing up with Pantaenius for both our boat and medical insurance. For all those international sailors/passagemakers out there, I can’t recommend Pantaenius strongly enough and in particular their “Sailors Medical insurance Policy’ is incredibly comprehensive albeit a little pricey.


What about a bigger boat? – In an earlier blog we signalled that we were looking to upgrade to a larger Nordhavn and this is still on the cards. Once in the USA we will contact both James Knight and PAE to see what is available. As we never buy anything new it will depend on what is on the market at the time. That being said however, Pendana is truly a cracking little ship, is in great shape and more than capable of handling the passage we have planned for her in her sleep. As I have said many times before she is like part of our family now and would be hard to give her up for any reason. At 5.5US Gallons per hour at 9.5kts she certainly is very economical which will be near impossible to beat if we do upgrade. For now Pendana is off the market and very much part of our planning process.


Pendana, perfection personified!

Health & Fitness. How to stay healthy while living in confined quarters is a real issue. Sure one can go on long walks, go for a swim (once all sharks have be eradicated from planet earth!) or jump into a gym when in port but what about if one is at anchor for four months or travelling through the Inside Passage – how does one stay fit then?

I realise this is strange question coming from me, the king of candy and all things chocolate, but about five months ago I decided that my lack of health and increasing weight were growing in the wrong direction and as such, went to see my doctor. My doctor is just like Doc Martin (played by Martin Clunes) from the UK BBC program of the same name. 


Martin Clunes as Doc Martin.

Anyway, my doctor delivers all messages in a brutal and pretty abrupt manner that would have most in tears. That being said, he is probably one of the best medical doctors around and as such, is highly sought after. So, in short, my visit to him and my statement of “Doc, it’s time to get healthy” came with the very predictable response and barrage of tests, akin to going ten rounds with Mike Tyson!

Anyway the long and the short of it is I have managed to lose 80lbs/36kgs with another 22lbs /10kgs to go and feel predictably, a whole lot better. Retirement is great but one must remain active. How does the expression go, use it or lose it!

Funnily enough my personal trainer (Roger, Ignite Performance Health & Fitness) is also not a very nice guy…… and seems to get a little too much pleasure from my pain and, if I am not suffering enough, he turns up the heat to ensure my time with him is as miserable as possible. There have been times where I have wondered if, in fact, he is related to my very own Doc Martin. Nonetheless, Roger has agreed to visit the boat and write a program to ensure I stay on track which is superb. Who would have known that diet and exercise was the answer!! J

Claire is blessed with the cardiac fitness of an elite athlete…albeit a retired one and as such is in peak physical fitness to take on the trip and both Abi and Bianca are ready to go! 


Grrrrr…. There has to be a better way? I am still thinking weight loss chocolates are the answer!

Upgrades – later this year Pendana will go back to the Gold Coast and have some final work done in preparation to this voyage. For example, I want to repaint her foredeck with non-skid and make a few cosmetic repairs to her gel-coat. We have also bought a Jet Ski so that will need to be added to her foredeck. We also need to have our two Maxwell’s 3500 windlass fully serviced and checked and want to also have our Davit (crane) fully stripped down and checked. All fire extinguishers will be replaced and our Nobletec navigation system will be upgraded to the newest version, which in turn also means new marine monitors to handle the graphics output of NobleTech Time Zero Odyssey which are a minimum of 1024 x 600. Also all through-hulls and every single hose in the engine room will be checked and replaced where needed. In fact, when you come to think about it, Pendana is basically ready to go!

Just as a side note both Claire and Abi recently received their Jet-ski licenses and Abi also received her junior boating license which is well done to them both. In Australia all folks on the water must be licensed via a government department and while the idea is a good one as it improved overall boating competence the process is a wee bit complicated and takes time and real commitment to succeed. I now need to get my Jet-ski licence as well, plus Claire and I should really look at revisiting a scuba course….hmmm…..where’s that list……


SeaDoo RXP 215HP ready for Pendana’s foredeck!


NobleTech Time Zero Odyssey

At this stage the first year at sea looks a little like this and again a video has been posted here:–4. It has to be said that anything can change and as such, we will plan as we go and report accordingly.

Sydney, Australia

New Caledonia, Port Moselle

Fiji, Port Denaru

American Samoa, Pago Pago

Kiribati, London

Honolulu, Hawaii

USA (Mainland) San Francisco

… always we will keep all posted to changes etc from this plan as we voyage.

At the end of the day we just have to let the lines go and go with the flow. One thing is for sure we will be as prepared as possible, Pendana will be ready and we will carry enough spares on board to rebuild Pendana, from the keel up, if required.

As a safety measure we will be taking regular nice guy Captain Mark James with us on our first leg to ensure both Claire and I are mentally ok with being so far from land. As some would know, sometimes people can feel very, very scared being in open water so far from land so in the vein of playing it safe Mark has agreed to come to make sure we are all AOK! We are blessed to have him on the first leg to New Caledonia and having his experience over the past three years. It seems only fitting that Mark Join us on exciting Australia as he did with Pendana’s entry into Australia. Something poetic about that, just not sure what! Thanks Mark, your cabin is at the ready!

So, in short Pendana and her crew have made the decision to explore the world, be enriched by all it has to offer rather than continuing to conform to societal norms. I hope that my blogs remain of interest as we transverse the world’s oceans and as always I promise to share the good, the bad and the ugly with you as well as, the lessons learned, along the way.

Pendanablog will continue as usual to post the monthly ‘Guest Interviews’ on the first of each month and I am happy to say I have some great characters lined up – so make sure you stay tuned and check back monthly for the latest instalment. 

NEWS JUST IN – Caesar the Magnificent trying on his Captains hat – looking good Caesar, looking good!


Caesar Looking Magnificent

So best be off as there is a mountain of jobs to get through and much more planning to be done.

Don’t forget to logon to Pendana’s Facebook page for information and updates as they come to hand. Link:

Also if you have someone who you think would be interested in receiving these blogs please let them know about and ask them to simply register their email address.

Safe travels


13 thoughts on “Pendana’s World Trip”

  1. SUBJECT: Re: Pendana’s World Trip

    Congratulations! I will greet you in Miami with some excellent Cuban food when you arrive. I am a member of the Sunset Harbor Yacht club and it would be a great place for you to moor while you explore Miami Beach and the surrounding areas. Let me know and I can make help with the arrangements. Excited for you, Michael Garcia 001-305-803-8156.

    On Monday, August 25, 2014 6:09 PM, http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM wrote:

  2. SUBJECT: RE: Pendana’s World Trip

    Dear James and family,

    I see Seattle on the map!  Would love to cross paths!  So excited for you and your family! 

    We’ve met up with David, Kathryn, and Ayla a few times over the years, so don’t think I’m not serious.  J

    Jackie and Mike Schmidt

    Sammamish (suburb of Seattle)

    From: http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM [mailto:blog-46517-comments@t…]
    Sent: Monday, August 25, 2014 3:09 PM
    To: jackiesch@m…
    Subject: Pendana’s World Trip

  3. Magnificent, indeed. Good on ya, James and family. We’ll all look forward to your excellent blogs. Perhaps we’ll get a chance to cross paths when you come back down the Pacific US coast to Dana Point, CA, or nearby environs. Wishing you and yours the best of times with smooth seas and the wind at your back. This is going to be awesome!

  4. Can’t wait for Your Adventure to begin. Live in SoCal (35 mi from Dana Nordhavn) and would love to meet up with you. We also travel frequently to London (UK) so could cross paths there. If you ever need help along the way you have my email!

  5. SUBJECT: RE: Pendana’s World Trip

    Hi James,

    Just read your proposed trip , WOW !! I envy you!!!!

    Still need to catch up with you and have a peek at Pendana, and I am interested in the Nobletec system also. When you are in the northeast of the states, I highly recommend Newport RI ( great boatyard and marina right in town) and a visit to the islands Nantucket, Martha’s vineyard in particular Edgar town. Cape cod and Maine area’s are fantastic. I note you are visiting Portland ( great place) you will get sick of eating Lobster in Maine, you might also in investigate Boothbay harbour, Camden, and Rockport fantastic seaside towns in Maine We love the North East of USA, it won’t disappoint.

    We are taking Liberty to Tassie for 4 months in January and doing the circumnavigation, so I would like to catch up and have a coffee and discuss some of your equipment etc. Our new flopper stoppers have arrived from the states last week, so need to get my head around fitting the rig to the boat. I have been discussing the install with Dick Smiths skipper Dane who is very knowledgeable and all round nice guy, they have them on the new Selene 66 he has just taken delivery of.

    Are you going to the Hall of fame function tomorrow at Bobbo ? might see you there and catch up.



    Chris Doran

    Cerretti Holdings Pty Ltd
    1/38 Metro Court
    Gateshead NSW 2290

    Postal address:
    PO Box 5262
    Kahibah NSW 2290
    M 0488787676

    From: http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM [mailto:blog-46517-comments@t…]
    Sent: Tuesday, 26 August 2014 8:09 AM
    To: Chris Doran
    Subject: Pendana’s World Trip

  6. SUBJECT: Re: Pendana’s World Trip

    Hi James Claire Abi Bianca Captain Cesar and the mighty cats, you are going to travel the world. What a fantastic idea! It will definitely be life changing. Your news is so inspiring. I am a little bit jealous. I wish you all the best on your journey ( though I am sure we will see each other a few times before you go).

    A big kiss and hug from the Meier family.

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

    ——– Original message ——–
    To: nmescot@o…
    Subject: Pendana’s World Trip


    SUBJECT: So cool

    Running away from home in your boat is always a good idea 🙂 congratulations!

    In your blog you mentioned GPS tracking collars for the cats. Did you find them? What brand?
    We are very interested. We cruise with our cat MoMo and he went missing for four days in Charleston last year. A boat owner finally found him locked in their lazarette!

    Love your blog.

    Kristina & Atle

    Sent from Summer Star, lying Olso, Norway. (

  8. SUBJECT: RE: Pendana’s World Trip

    I see from your plan that you intend visiting my home town of Swansea.I know its a long time in the future but this is an invitation to you and your family (no dogs or cats-sorry!)to join me for dinner at the BCYC to celebrate your landfall in Wales.I look forward to following your adventure over the next few years.
    Best wishes
    Wyn (

    From: blog-46517-comments@t…
    Subject: Pendana’s World Trip
    To: wynjones99@h…
    Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2014 22:09:24 +0000

  9. SUBJECT: RE: Pendana’s World Trip

    Have a great trip. It’s fun out here.


    Ocean Pearl N6403

    Currently lying Cruxhaven. Gr.

    From: http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM [mailto:blog-46517-comments@t…]
    Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 12:09 AM
    To: braun@p…
    Subject: Pendana’s World Trip

  10. Sean Madgwick \"Horizon\&

    SUBJECT: Re: Pendana’s World Trip
    Morning maaaaate,Just enjoyed a nice warm cup of coffee whilst reading your blog, such an amazing journey ahead, and some interesting topics arise from such a quest. Tell Abi & Bianca I would have LOVED if my parents undertook such an journey when I was a kid. Our annual Whitsunday’s adventure in the family boat was just a tease for me !!
    As always,Best,Sean
    Kind Regards,
    Sean Madgwick |

  11. It seems like you’re skipping around S. America and Africa, are those dangerous areas? I’m happy you’re taking someone with you the first time out into the open sea. I’m sure it can be scary just looking around and feeling overwhelmed. Good luck on your journey.

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