Paul Geraghty's "Southern Run Cruise" from Los Angeles to Australia
“Do you come from the land down under? Where women glow and men plunder? – Lyrics from the song, “Down Under”, performed by Men at Work
Paul Geraghty, a world traveler and tour guide hails from that fabled land down under. Even if he claimed otherwise, Paul’s Aussie accent would give him away. To my untutored ear, his Scottish (or is it Scotch?) accent was good, as well. However, that was after sharing several hours and a couple of beers in the cockpit of his new boat. While sipping my beer, Paul explained that what we call a beer “koozie” in the U.S. is a “coldy holdy” in the Land of Oz (Oztralia?). It seems that the land down under is also the land of slang.
While looking to sell my own 1970 Ericson 35 Mk-II sloop, I had earlier met Paul online. Despite my low price, Paul demurred. Instead, he and his skipper agreed that an Islander 34 had the legs to sail all the way to his home port of Airlie Beach, Australia. Although Paul did not buy WindSong, my Southern California coastal cruiser, another person recently did purchase my boat.
Manufactured in Southern California, Paul’s “new” boat is one of only fourteen Islander 34’s ever made. Reflecting her 1964 design and 1974 build date, the sloop has a rugged, full-keel fiberglass hull. Her bulkheads, accoutrements and the interior are of wood construction. Named “Southern Run”, the boat is a good example of the transition from wooden boats to the now ubiquitous plastic models. With her full keel, the boat’s design emphasizes its cruising heritage. Slower than contemporary fin-keel hulls, a moderate offshore breeze will bring the Islander 34 up to a hull-speed of around five knots (5.75 mph/9.25 kph).
When I visited Paul at Ventura Harbor in Ventura County, California, he was already at home on his new boat. He had his Wi-Fi connections nailed down and using his "mobile" to negotiate with potential crew members in Idaho and Hawaii. Already, he had selected his skipper, AKA “Smith”, seldom seen far from Southern California boating for over forty years. In fact, Smith lives aboard a cruising boat under refurbishment in an adjacent slip. After a quick introduction, Smith departed by automobile for Long Beach, where he planned to buy a dinghy for their trip.
From L.A. there are two variations on the “Coconut Milk Run”, which is a nickname for the sailing course to the South Pacific. The more direct route starts with a leg from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Once there, the course turns south, towards Tahiti. From French Polynesia, the course is almost due west, island hopping to the northeast Australian Coast. An alternate course port-hops down the coast of Mexico. From Southern Mexico, the course heads for the Marquesas Islands, in mid-Pacific, south of the equator. From the Marquesas, the course is southwest, along much of the same route as the Hawaii-Tahiti-south variant.
In air miles alone, from Los Angeles, California to Melbourne, Australia is almost 8,000 miles (12,875 km). Choosing the Mexican Coconut Milk Run, the crew of Southern Run will sail over one-third the circumference of the Earth. At a hull speed of five knots, the full route will entail more than sixty days offshore. Allowing for time in ports-of-call and slower sailing near the equator, using any measure, this will be a long cruise.
With a full crew expected by early June 2012, Paul Geraghty’s “Southern Run Cruise” will soon begin. Sometime in June, I hope to be at Ventura Harbor, seeing the intrepid crew off for what will be the adventure of a lifetime. During their port calls on the Southern Run Cruise, Paul and his crew plan to send me email updates. If our communications plan is successful, I will post future cruising updates here at JamesMcGillis.com.
Author's Note, September 13, 2012: I heard from Aussie Paul via LinkedIn. He wrote, "Hiya Jim, yes its me. I am in Australia. I left the boat in Ensenada as I had too many crew problems and missed the weather window. I am going back at the end of Feb. 2013 to outfit her for the trip. I am bringing back my biz partner, who is a mariner, old school friend and a pro sailor. Chat soon, Paul".