(For Part 1 – click here)
After exploring the lower parts of South America by planes, trains and automobiles, the Stovalls flew back to their Stevens 47’ sailboat “Imagine” docked in Caracas, Venezuela. Their next waypoint is Columbia, stopping at San Blas Archipelago before navigating through the 48 mile Panama Canal in February of 2010.
Once in the Pacific Ocean, they set their course for the Galápagos Islands (photo right) which is 1000km off the coast of Ecuador. Galápagos is considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing. The Stovalls can vouch for that. They swam with sea lions, black underwater Iguanas and sea turtles on a conservationist tour. At the end of the 28 day limit on Galápagos, they re-provisioned “Imagine” and embarked on their longest passage yet – The Marquesas Islands. The 3,180 nautical miles blue water journey lasted 18 days.
One of the most remote island groups in the world, The Marquesas Islands are overwhelming lush with 1000-foot waterfalls cascading down sheer volcanic cliffs and soaring mountains disappearing into the clouds. From the Marquesas Islands, the Stovalls navigated south to Tahiti. They couldn’t resist visiting Society Islands and Bora Bora, (photo left) known as the most romantic islands in the world.
After Bora Bora, Shelia got “grandmother-itis” as Stu likes to tease her. She flew back to New Bern and stayed at their condo in Fairfield Harbour to visit family and friends for four months. Stu single handed “Imagine” from Bora Bora to Tonga. In Tonga, a friend flew in to help Stu sail the 1000 nautical mile voyage to New Zealand. From New Zealand, Stu flew home for the holidays.
In January of 2011, Stu and Shelia returned to their life of adventure on the high seas. In New Zealand, they toured by car and camped for six weeks.
In May 2011, The Stovalls set sail for Fiji with a group of 10 other boats and for the first time since they left Fairfield Harbour, they encountered a treacherous storm at sea. For three days the winds howled at of 30-32 knots gusting to 40 and the 15-18 foot seas made for a roller coaster ride. At the peak of the storm, the sheet line for the jib sail ripped loose and “Imagine” took off like a freight train. The high winds ripped the jib sail at the leech. After tacking 160 degrees to make their heading, the storm slowed down enough to pull the jib sail into v-berth.
Stay tuned for Part 3 as the Stovalls bring the gallant and seaworthy “Imagine” into Suva, Fiji.