The Washington Post

Long trip: Annapolis couple back home after 14-year boat ride

The City Dock in Annapolis. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

This post has been updated

Mike and Marguerite Welch didn’t plan to be gone so long, but they kept on sailing.

For 14 years.

“I have determined, to my own satisfaction, that the world is round,” Mike told the Capital Gazette in its absolutely thrilling story about the trip.

The report says:

Mike, 72, and his wife Marguerite Welch, 71, who live in Epping Forest in Annapolis, returned home July 19 from a 14 and a half-year circumnavigation on their Shannon 38 sailboat Ithaca.

Taking off in 1998 to head toward the Caribbean, the couple only intended for the trip to last a few years. They spent time in Guatemala and Columbia before traveling the Panama Canal. At that point, they felt they might as well keep going.

“It happened really without thinking about it much,” Marguerite said.

Mike is a retired Navy captain. I assume he did most of the driving, though the article notes his wife’s sailing prowess. Some of the countries and places they visited: New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Italy, Turkey and Malaysia.

The trip was not always a vacation. After the devastating 2004 tsunami — they rode it out in their boat in Malaysia and didn’t feel a thing — Mike and Marguerite transported supplies to relief workers. And then there were the storms:

Traveling across oceans, Mike and Marguerite found themselves faced with their own difficulties. Their engine took on water in the middle of the Indian Ocean and an intense storm in the Atlantic sent water over the bow.

They were most frightened, however, only a month ago. A storm, similar to Maryland’s recent derecho, caught Ithaca as they were traveling up the Intracoastal Waterway in the Carolinas. With little room on either side of the channel and no visibility, the couple relied on their teamwork — and luck — to make it through.

“We were just rats in a trap,” Marguerite said.

Asked their favorite place, the couple answered: Here.

“Because it’s home,” Mike said.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.


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