Two cruising tales: the first an ending, the second a beginning.
Rollo Gebhard ran a music shop in Munich and some acting on the side. In the early 1950s he bought a 17-foot dinghy designed for day sailing on a Bavarian lake. Before long the lake was too small for Gebhard.
"I was a romantic, and I was hooked," he said last week, sipping a cup of tea in an Annapolis tavern while a steady rain drenched the harbor outside.
Gebhard began to make absurdly long cruises in his centerboarder. By 1957 he had visited Tunisia, across the Mediterranean. In 1960 he sailed the same boat - "I made sure not to capsize" - through the Suez Canal to British Aden.
"In the Persian Gulf I was captured by pirates, and they took me and locked me up in a sort of castle for two days.I still don't know why they grabbed me - I guess I violated their tribal territory or something.
"When I got back to Aden, the British said I was the only one they knew who'd survived the pirates. I'll tell you, if I hadn't been afraid for my life every moment would have been the perfect adventure."
Back in Germany, Gebhard sold the dinghy and it returned to the lake, where he says it remains today. He bought an 18-foot twin-keeler and promptly set out for the West Indies and New York, "where they gave me three weeks of parties and then I found myself back home again."
The music shop apparently no longer seemed very exciting. So Gebhard commenced his first circumnavigation.
"I left in 1967 and when I got back in 1970 my whole world had changed," he said. "The films I had made had been shown on German television in prime time, and I started on a lecture tour."
Shortly afterward he also started his second circumnavigation - again alone - on Solveig III, his 24-foot fiberglass sloop.
"I wanted to see the places I missed the first time."
This trip took him to New Guinea, where he lingered for six months. When he finally left, the season was such that he had to make good time to Capetown, South Africa. This he accomplished by sailing his tiny boat 8,000 miles in four months, alone, non-stop.
"When I arrived, I confess, I was on my knees," Gebhard said. "But you see, I had to press on. My schedule demanded it."
How long did it take him to recover?
"Oh, a very long time - two, maybe three days before I was back to normal."
He crossed his outgoing track in the Caribbean, where he also crossed tracks with Kathy Diehr, a teacher on vacation from Sidwell Friends school in Washington. She now has joined him for a sail up to St. John's, Newfoundland.
"I am an extrovert," Gebhard said, "and yet I have always been very happy on my little boat these past 10 years. I have met all of the wonderful people I wanted to, and I have seen all of the places.
"In fact, it's all over for me. When I get to Newfoundland I am going home, and find a nice lady who wants to live with me, and not go cruising over the sea anymore."
Theodore Heintz is an economist for the Department of the Interior and a resident of Cleveland Park. He already has cruised to Bermuda once with his family, and they leave West River Saturday on their second trip. If things go well, Heintz has been thinking about a sail to England - with the family, of course.
The family is his wife, Judy, sons John, 9, and Jibs, 8, and daughters Nina 6, and Linda, 5. Linda came to the Heintz family when she was 10 months old. She is Korean, and victim of polio who uses crutches to get about on land.
"Not on the boat, though," Heintz said. "On the boat she scrambles around fine - after all, she's been sailing since she was 10 months old."
The Heintz used to own a house in the city, but they sold it to buy a CC 39 two years ago, "after a three-year search for just the right boat - which we think we've found."
"Well, I know people think kids are a problem at sea," Heintz said, "but ours have sort of grown up on boats. It's funny, but when it gets rough and the sea kicks up, the children tend to go into a kind of trance, and pretty soon they fall asleep. They never get seasick."
The on-board rules for kids are:life jackets at all times, and safety harness whenever called for by the weather.
"They just snap on and off the jacklines, and it's no problem," Heintz said.
"The hardest part about it for Judy and me," Heintz said, "is that the children aren't able to be truly independent, and I guess neither are we.
"In addition to sailing the boat and navigating, you also get 'can I have a cookie?' or 'will somebody pump the head?' When you're really tired, that can be quite a demand."
The reward is obvious to Ted Heintz, though.
"It's when one of the boys spends eight hours in a row just counting flying fish and Portuguese Men of War. Or when we fall in with a school of pilot whales, and everybody on board is mesmerized."
The Heintzes currently are thinking about a one-year voyage to Europe, during which they might fly back to the States for the winter before returning to continue the cruise down to North Africa, the West Indies, and home.
Plans are far from complete, but Heintz already has checked out the school situation.
"The schools are very encouraging nowadays for things like this," he said. "They have correspondence courses for the kids to take, and there wouldn't be any problem there."
One thing about long-distance cruising with children: They do tend to get older as you go along.
"At least we're out of the diaper stage now," Heintz said with a laugh. "There was a time, I recall, when one of my jobs was dipping dirty bottoms over the side."