When Stu and Shelia Stovall retired and moved from the Raleigh area to New Bern, they downsized and bought a condo at Tradewinds in Fairfield Harbour, New Bern, NC. A condo suited their lifestyle because they had plans to cruise on their 43’ Irwin sailboat, “Nautilady”.
After a few years of local sailing, wanderlust set in and they longed for greater adventures. In 2004, the Stovalls embarked for the Bahamas. At this point, the Stovalls had no idea how far their travels would take them. “We really didn’t start out to sail around the world, but with every new port there was a yearning to go just bit further! So we just kept going,” said Shelia.
After exploring the Bahamas, they sailed to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Martinique. The Stovalls soon realized this was the life they wanted – sailing in blue water. But they also realized they needed a different boat – a blue water boat. After extensive research, they bought a Sparkman Stevens 47’. With a 14.5 beam and 6.5 draft, the Stevens is considered one of the top blue water sailing vessel made because of the hull design and structural integrity. In the fall of 2005, they returned to their homeport Fairfield Harbour in New Bern to outfit their new boat and named her “Imagine”. On December 1, 2005, “Imagine” sailed off shore to St. Martin in seven days. And the adventure of a lifetime began.
From St. Martin, they cruised to Caracas. Venezuela. Stu and Shelia didn’t just sail to a port and then leave. They took advantage of all the transportation available from planes, to cars, to buses to ferries - to explore South America and its culture. In Chile, they experienced the wonders of the Chilean Fjords on the Navimag Ferry. In Peru they stayed in B&Bs along the mountain byways. In Argentina, they saw Iguazu Fall, the second largest falls in the world and visited Ushuaia, Argentina, southernmost tip of South America. Nicknamed the “End of the World”, Ushuaia is the gateway to Antarctica cruises. After two months exploring South America, they flew back to “Imagine” docked in Venezuela and set sail for Columbia.
Stayed tuned for Part II when the Stovalls travel through the Panama Canal and set sail in the Pacific.