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Discovering West Coast Circumnavigators

On Monday, we ran a story on the declining number of people circumnavigating the planet, along with the photo below, requesting more information to help us discover more West Coast circumnavigators.

Who's this circumnavigator?
Who’s this circumnavigator?
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Latitude Archives

We heard from Brian McGarry, whose picture is above. Brian wrote, “Ahoy Latitude! Imagine my surprise when I opened ‘Lectronic Latitude as usual on Monday and saw a photo of me and my cockatoo taken in Singapore 45 years ago!! My name is Brian McGarry (I am on the Circumnavigators’ List in the article) and the boat is the British Yacht Fiona — photo taken during the 1986 Master Mariners Regatta.

“Here’s a very abridged recap of Fiona’s voyages: Left England in the fall of 1972 and went through the Panama Canal in 1973; then around the world and through the Straits of Magellan (east to west) in the Southern winter of 1975/6 (only one summer snow squall!).

“Round again and through the Canal in 1984, out to Hawaii and then San Francisco, arriving October 1985.”

A certificate of circumnavigation signed by Richard Spindler stating, “In Recognition of doing a really cool thing with a small boat on a big ocean, we hereby congratulate Brian McGarry …”
© 2024 Brian McGarry

“I was fortunate to meet a lovely lady who cleaned up my act, married me, and presented me with a daughter named, of course, Fiona!”

The 42-ft gaff cutter yacht Fiona in which Brian McGarry circumnavigated from 1972 to 1985.
© 2024 Courtesy Brian McGarry

“I still live in San Francisco but the fate of Fiona (she was built in 1912) is alas unknown.” — Cheers, Brian.

It was great to hear from Brian and identify who was in the photo way back on March 21, 2008. At present we list “only” 388 circumnavigators from the West Coast. We haven’t tracked how many have done it via Cape Horn, but that number is likely much smaller.

We also heard from Bill Belmont, who added the Saarman family who did two separate circumnavigations aboard their Columbia 50 Rapture. You can find their listing, Saarman, Irma, Paul, Jim and Jeff / San Francisco / 1973-1975 / 1980-1982 / Columbia 50 / Rapture on the West Coast circumnavigators’ list here. Anyone else?

P.S. The world of publishing has changed. We’re offering readers numerous ways to contribute to Latitude 38 here.



  1. Michael Wolfe 4 weeks ago

    This is a fitting tribute. Brian has ot only circumnavigated the globe, He has contributed privately for decades in the Bay Area as a tradesman, skipper, and local wit. You should follow up with a full article.

  2. Shane Finneran 4 weeks ago

    Our good late friends Curt and Lettie Ciszek should also be added to your list of west coast circumnavigators. From Seattle, they sailed the Rough and Ready around the world in the ’80s. Curtis’s sister Jenna also sailed around the globe at a similar time period. They’re family history is very interesting!

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