In 1982, a hobby sailor and retired geography professor named Marvin Creamer embarked on a very special circumnavigation: On his 36’ steel ketch, Globe Star, Creamer and his crew ventured out into the Atlantic a few days before Christmas on the first leg of the voyage, bound for Africa. On board they carried absolutely no navigation instruments of any kind: no LORAN, no GPS or AIS (civilian versions of which did not, in any case, exist in 1982), no sextant or astrolabe, no radar . . . nothing. They didn’t even have a clock on board. They had some rudimentary charts and maps of the trade winds and that was it. What they did carry with them was Marv’s blue-water sailing experience and his knowledge of the Earth, the stars, and of the winds and waves. Eighteen months later, Creamer returned, having shown the world—or as much of it as was paying any attention—that one could sail around the globe without using any instruments. Creamer’s intent was to prove that such a voyage could be successful, showing that ancient peoples—e.g., the Norse, the South Pacific Islanders, and possibly others—could well have traveled the world’s oceans using only their brains, their five senses, and the experience of multiple generations of their seafaring ancestors. The trip was ultimately successful, but Creamer was beset by almost-constant problems. That makes for an exciting tale, and provides some exceptional examples of seafaring ingenuity and sheer determination on the part of Creamer. The author was given exclusive access to Creamer’s diaries, photos, and other memorabilia by Creamer’s family.
Rod Scher received his M.Ed from the University of Oregon. A longtime boating enthusiast, writer, and former English teacher, he is an editor for Smart Computing Magazine and author of The Annotated Two Years Before the Mast (Sheridan House, 2013). He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.