Skip to content

Marvin Creamer, Sailor Who Shunned Technology, Dies at 104

Marvin Charles Creamer, the first (and perhaps only) person to complete a circumnavigation without the aid of navigation instruments, died on August 12 in Raleigh, NC. He was 104 years old.

Creamer was a geographer, a college professor, and a sailor who famously undertook a 30,000 mile voyage aboard his 36-foot sailboat Globe Star using only his knowledge of celestial navigation and geography. The then 68-year-old successfully steered his boat and his crew across oceans and into numerous foreign ports, over 513 days before returning to his starting point in Cape May, NJ.

Creamer (left) was the only person on board to complete the entire voyage. The crew joined or left the boat at various ports along the way.
© 2020 Press of Atlantic City

According an article in The New York Times, Creamer did carry — at the insistence of his wife — a sextant, clock, compass and radio. However the instruments were kept belowdecks in a sealed locker for use only in case of emergency. The locker was never opened.

In the years following the voyage, the former Rowan University professor would often give talks about his life and his voyage. On one such occasion, speaking in front of a group of the university’s students and guests, Creamer said that despite the risks, he was 95% certain of success.

“I was aware that I might not make it. But if I died during this trip, at least I would have died doing what I wanted to do,” he said.

Creamer had alway been drawn to sailing and had dreamed of sailing without instruments since his teenage years. As a young adult he became an accomplished sailor and completed several Atlantic crossings — three of them without navigation equipment.

“I was hooked. Taken hostage by an idea,” he said to the students. When questioned about his inspiration for circling the globe, Creamer told them the idea had come to him ‘in the middle of one idle night.’ “I just wanted to do it so badly.”

Globe Star sailed out of Cape May, NJ, on December 21, 1982, and headed toward South Africa by way of Dakar, West Africa, and Cape Town.
© 2020 Rowan University

In honor of the intrepid professor turned global sailor, Rowan University established the Marvin Creamer Scholarship Fund in 2015. The annual scholarship is awarded to the graduating student who not only demonstrates academic achievement, but also shares the “character and attitude of Dr. Creamer: intellectual curiosity and spirit of adventure.”

Marvin Creamer speaks at his
Marvin Creamer was a sought-after speaker. Here he entertains friends and guests at this 100th-birthday party.
© 2020 Kurt Creamer

Creamer’s son, Kurt, told NJ Advance Media that he had accompanied his father on many sailing journeys including a “substantial voyage” when the senior Creamer was 95.

“It only dawned on me slowly over many years just how remarkable (and dangerous) a navigational feat it was that he had accomplished.”

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Kelvin D. Meeks 8 months ago

    Extraordinary Endeavor: Marvin Creamer’s Voyage Into Sailing History

  2. Avatar
    Peter Detwiler 8 months ago

    Kelvin: Thanks for the link to this video! Glad that I watched it.

Leave a Comment




Teenaged Cruiser Dies in Moorea
In a tragic accident in Moorea on August 10, a young cruiser was killed after being hit by a speedboat. According to reports, Eddie Jarman, 14, was checking the anchor on his family’s UK-based Discovery 55 September a.m. in Opunohu Bay when he was struck.
Sponsored Post
PIER 39 is serving up delicious seafood dishes, along with fine wines and stunning views, you’re guaranteed to have an experience you won’t forget!
The Drua Experience
Na Lesu Tale, which translates to The Homecoming, will be the first time that a Fijian Drua has sailed back to the Lau Group of islands in modern history.