A Round-the-World Challenge

in Adventure Travel / Clipper Tales / Sailing the World
travel around the world

1)    When I think about my upcoming adventures, all I can think of is how I’m going to end up lying in a pool of my own blood.

2)   When I think about my upcoming adventures, I start to think I might die in the Southern Ocean.

3)    When I think about my upcoming adventures, I’m filled with serenity — I’m so relaxed that I feel like I’m being soothed to sleep in a warm bubble bath.

One of these sentences is a lie. Can you guess which one?

I used to play this game – two truths and a lie – with my English language students at the start of class to get them conversing and practicing their English in a relaxed environment. We call these little games “warmers,” since they help students warm up to speaking a foreign language using phrases they know already before challenging them to try out more difficult language constructions.

I’m not sure what made me think of this, but I suppose I’m feeling like I could use a “warmer,” an activity that eases me into the intense experience I’ve just jumped into. The experience that’s about to take me on a seven-month rollercoaster ride as I circumnavigate the world by planes, trains, yachts, cars, buses, tuk-tuks, motorcycles and god-knows-what-else.

around the world travel hideaway

Hideaway waits for us in the D.R. as we travel around the world.

Ryan and I have just completed a 10-month sailing journey from New York to the Caribbean. And now, our boat Hideaway is resting peacefully on dry land in Luperon, Dominican Republic, awaiting our return next year.

Which means a new adventure is now officially underway. We’ve challenged ourselves to take on a full round-the-world trip using as many modes of transport as possible along the way. It all started a week ago in New York, where we flew with our two cats, Charlie and Celia, and handed them over to my parents, who will spoil them rotten with fresh fish and solid ground until we return.

When I say this trip is already underway, I mean before we even boarded our flight to London for our Clipper Round the World Race training, we’d already hitched a ride with friends to Albany (✔car), rode Amtrak to New York City (✔train), stayed with friends on their sailboat (✔dinghy) and toured the Big Apple doing business and visiting friends (✔subway). So, I’d say we’re off to a healthy start.

port washington travel around the world

We’re lucky we can stay with friends on their boats when visiting New York

This is our ambitious itinerary for the next seven months as we travel around the world:

  • Complete our Level 2 and 3 Training for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race without injury. (If you followed along for Level 1, you know about me lying in a pool of my own blood.)
  • Race 70-foot yachts from London, UK to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Fly to Cape Town, South Africa. Swim with some sharks.
  • Anxiously await the arrival of the Clipper Race yachts’ from Rio.
  • Take on Leg 3 of Clipper Round the World, which means racing from Cape Town to Western Australia across the angry Southern Ocean.
  • Travel around Australia. See some kangaroos. Cuddle some koalas.
  • Fly to Southeast Asia for some more traveling. Hit Thailand for a full-moon party.
  • Work our way back to New York via the western U.S. states.
  • Spoil our cats with love and cuddles before taking them on a plane with us back to the Dominican Republic.

I’m not going to lie: this travel outline has me pretty excited. And also pretty stressed. I mean, what we’re about to do is no joke.

So, while I’m practically skipping from city to city (and by skipping, I mean schlepping heavy ocean racing gear), I’m also suffering sleepless nights as my brain wanders to places I can’t even fathom. Like the Southern Ocean.

southern ocean clipper around the world race

What it’s like to race on the open ocean (Photo credit: Clipper Ventures Plc)


If you’re a landlubber, you’ve probably never even heard of the Southern Ocean, since it’s not one of the seven seas taught in grade-school geography. But if you’ve ever sailed, you know this beast by name.

Dare to look it up on Wikipedia, and you’ll get charming tidbits like this:

Cyclonic storms travel eastward around the continent and frequently become intense because of the temperature   contrast between ice and open ocean.

Sailors know latitudes from 40 to 70 degrees south as the “Roaring Forties”, “Furious Fifties” and “Shrieking Sixties” due to high winds and large waves that form as winds blow around the entire globe unimpeded by any land-mass.

Ice and open ocean. Large waves. That’s the stuff legends are made of.

So, when travel writer Mike Sowden (the talent behind the blog Fevered Mutterings) wrote in an email, “I’m totally jealous of your itinerary. But I’m hiding it really well. *stabs self in thigh with pen a number of times* I’M TOTALLY FINE DAMMIT.”

I felt compelled to reply with this warning:

Keep in mind, I COULD DIE. IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. I’m sort of kidding, but then again I’m not.

Most people don’t sail the Southern Ocean because, well, they know better. But my husband? My husband says, “I totally want to sail the Southern Ocean because there’s no way in hell I would ever do that on my own boat.” And here I naively thought he’d signed us up for the two MOST FUN legs of the race. London to Rio! Yay! Cape Town to Perth! What?! What do you mean two boats were dis-masted, a Skipper broke his leg, and they had a man overboard in the last race?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!

So, you may be jealous, but do remember that it is very stressful to be me. I’m always getting myself into stuff that sounds like a terrible idea to everyone else, but makes me want to do it even more. And then sometimes I break myself and people worry about me, and still I come out of it feeling like it was totally worth it. And I just keep chasing that feeling all over the world. Doing that to yourself all the time is REALLY stressful. And fun. You still want my itinerary?

around the world travel clipper race

The conditions I will be facing on the Southern Ocean (Photo credit: Clipper Ventures Plc)

Before I left New York, I spent a day with my parents, who seem utterly baffled by me and the challenges I pursue. “What makes you want to do this?” my dad asked.

I didn’t really know how to answer at the time, so instead I described the exhilarating experience of learning to race a yacht in harsh elements with a crew of strangers who I depend on for safety and support. I could tell from the pained looks on my parents’ faces that what I was describing with a grin sounded to them like the kind of hell that saner people would go to great lengths to avoid. And, despite myself, I understood what they were feeling.

As I lie awake at night, thinking about the Southern Ocean and the vast unknown that I will inevitably face, I feel a seed of panic rise in my gut. It’s an intense and familiar feeling, and one that I’ve learned to acknowledge and face like a worthy challenger. Because, ultimately, I have faith in my experiences, which have shown me both the terror and joy of ski racing, mountain climbing, learning a new language, playing roller derby, falling in love, running marathons, starting a business, riding a motorcycle, traveling alone, sailing to the Caribbean and countless life-changing occurrences.

And, time and again, those experiences have taught me that on the other side of fear lies freedom. Which is exactly what makes me want to do this.

travel around the world clipper race

Doesn’t this look like fun? (Photo credit: Clipper Ventures Plc)


Follow us here on the Clipper Round the World Race as we update from our satellite phone. Also, check out the Turf to Surf Facebook Page for updates as we travel around the world.

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  • Cap'n Suky July 25, 2013, 11:00 pm

    Hi Tasha – here’s my prescription for you. Take 3 deep breaths every hour on the hour, breathing in calmness and exhaling fear. Yes, there are serious dangers. The biggest one is fear. Rest when you are not in watch, even if you think you can’t sleep, lie down and close your eyes. Keep hydrated. Make positive affirmations your mantra. Stay on the boat.
    You will be fine. Have fun.
    All the best!

    • Tasha Hacker July 26, 2013, 7:01 pm

      Thanks Suky! I will do my best to breathe and stay on the boat! Wanna be my life coach?! I think I need one at times 🙂

  • MJ Sailing July 25, 2013, 11:48 pm

    Remember Tasha, one hand for the boat!! 🙂

    • Tasha Hacker July 26, 2013, 7:00 pm

      Done and done. I just finished day 1 and I’m proud to say I did not lose any blood or any limbs. SUCCESS!

      • Romanda August 12, 2013, 9:49 pm

        Not losing blood or limbs could be because you had crew on board watching your back 😉

        • Tasha Hacker August 12, 2013, 11:55 pm

          Absolutely! Where would I be without my trusty crew?!

  • Toby July 26, 2013, 6:33 am

    “On the other side of fear lies freedom.” That’s awesome. Can’t wait to hear more. Missing you already.

    • Tasha Hacker July 26, 2013, 6:59 pm

      Awww, Toby. I miss you, too! Just don’t let your sister set you on fire this year in Cape Cod 🙂

  • Sheri July 26, 2013, 11:06 am

    Hi Tasha! I’m jealous!!! This is now my favorite blog…just finished reading from the beginning. I love your quote “On the other side of fear lies freedom”. It’s awesome…I’ll give you credit when I use it 🙂 My husband and I are preparing to set off on a motorcycle, 2 up, around the world next year and I lay awake thinking of all the horrible things that can happen. But I’d rather face that fear than sit on the sofa and watch horrible television. Sailing also lies in our future and you have me very interested in the Clipper race. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    • Tasha Hacker July 26, 2013, 6:59 pm

      That is AMAZING! I suppose you’ve both seen “The Long Way Round” and “The Long Way Down”, those motorcycle documentaries with Ewan McGregor? They were the first films to put the idea in my head that traveling like that could be wonderful. Let me know if you write about it… I would be SO interested in reading!

  • Troy July 26, 2013, 2:12 pm

    Nice one.. I’m going to quote you on my facebook cap

  • Mid-Life Cruising! July 26, 2013, 2:18 pm

    Wow, you’re gonna fit more into those 7 months than most people ever do in a lifetime! Don’t know if I’m jealous .. or not. =)

    Congrats on going for it! You’ll definitely have some stories to tell, and it’ll all end up just fine.

    • Tasha Hacker July 26, 2013, 6:56 pm

      Lol. I would understand if you’re not jealous 🙂 Sometimes I don’t know what possesses me!

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