League City couple travels the world in 51-foot sailboat
Frank and Barbara Gladney are slowly readjusting to life on land, looking for a new home and trying to find a car, among other necessities.
The longtime League City residents have been back in the area for a little more than two months after spending the past 11 years intermittently crisscrossing the globe on Destiny, a 51-foot Island Packet 485 sailboat.
If it wasn’t a true circumnavigation, it was darn close.
“This is something that I’ve been dreaming of for more than 20 years,” Frank Gladney said. “And Barbara was also in line with all of that, so it was a perfect match.”
The Gladneys bought their boat in 2007 in San Diego, California, in anticipation of their transoceanic goal, Frank Gladney said.
The 51-foot-long, 15-foot-wide sailboat is large enough to be comfortable for two people, Frank Gladney said. It came equipped with its own generator, solar panels, and had a full galley with a fridge, freezer, microwave and stove.
“It was a lot like a motor home,” he said.
The yacht has a 63-foot-6-inch mast height, a 300-gallon fuel tank and can store up to 340 gallons of water, according to the ship’s specifications.
Equipped with the boat of their dreams, the Gladneys in 2008 sailed out for the first time south of San Diego in Ensenada, Mexico, after Frank Gladney retired.
“We went back to the boat in February and were in California for a week or two buying groceries and supplies and then we were gone,” Frank Gladney said.
Frank Gladney had sailing experience before the trip, but hadn’t done anything quite as extensive as the ocean crossing that would await them in the years to come, he said.
“The rest we learned as we went,” he said.
Initially, the Gladneys would spend as much as eight months out at sea and then return to League City for maybe four months before venturing back to the boat, he said. As time progressed, that on-and-off cycle would change somewhat, with them spending alternating six months on and off the sailboat.
From Mexico, the couple sailed to the Marquesas Islands, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Tonga, New Zealand and elsewhere, he said.
During long-distance passages, the Gladneys would take turns standing watch for three hours to make sure cruise ships and cargo ships didn’t hit them, he said.
“Depending on where you’re traveling, if you’re in a shipping lane, then you’ll see a lot more ships,” he said. “When we went across the Pacific from Mexico to the Marquesas, we didn’t see any other boats out there for 21 days. We weren’t in a shipping lane. And when we came across the Atlantic, we came from Cape Verde to the Martinique, and we only saw one or two sailboats like us making that crossing.”
Arriving back in the area in late May, the Gladneys are now reacclimating to life on land, visiting grandchildren and deciding what comes next, Frank Gladney said.
Before the last leg of their trip, the couple sold their League City home, and are living on their boat at Lakewood Yacht Club while they shop for a new one, he said.
What comes next?
“We might spend time going through the United States next,” he said.