New Bern man begins
New Bern man begins ‘open-ended’ sailboat trip around the world
Daniel Sockwell, second from the right, is joined by crew member
friends, Jimmy James Tyson from Charlotte; Pollux Dietz from Annapolis
, Md.; and John Cappel from Cincinnati.
By Charlie Hall, Sun Journal Staff
Published: Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 16:37 PM.
ORIENTAL — When Daniel Sockwell was 22, he had a college degree but didn’t want “to spend my 20s in grad school
.” So, he abandoned an earlier dream of being a college professor and hooked into another dream — world traveler.
He owns a 27-foot sailboat and he and four friends will soon depart Deaton Yacht Service
in Oriental, sail to Beaufort
for a few days and then he plans to embark on a sailing trip around the world. He calls it an “open-ended” journey, with no specific timetable — perhaps years.
It is a 27-foot Pacific Seacraft
, made in California
. Since then, the company has moved to nearby Washington
The boat has been at Deaton’s, getting prepped with new equipment
and an overhaul
to make it seaworthy
for the trip. He said Thursday that his departure to Beaufort
and beyond will depend on the weather
Sockwell grew up in New Bern, finding his passion for sailing at Camp Albemarle in Morehead City, where he was a camper and later a counselor during high school
After graduation from New Bern High in 2003, his college days took him to Warren Wilson College in Asheville, where he got a degree in chemistry in 2007. That was fueled by his love of science and math, which he hoped to parlay into a PhD and become a professor.
He developed a passion for travel. He has been to Jamaica
A 10-week road trip with his father, the Rev. Jeff Sockwell at West New Bern Presbyterian Church, was followed by a job at a Swansboro kayak
shop after college.
However, he returned to a Camp Albemarle in a full-time position as director for three years, living on site.
But, his plans for an extended sailboat journey were ongoing.
“I wanted to have a way to do that long term and I figured a sailboat was the cheapest, greenest way to be able to travel around,” he said. “I wanted to have enough income
to come back when I wanted to, not because I ran out of money
He chose photography
and web design as the best ways to earn a living while on the “road.”
He started Sail Away Web Design five years ago. He has worked that job fulltime the past three years, during which he bought the boat, with his idea of sailing the world.
“Absolutely,” he said. “The first year, I sold my car, sold everything and put everything into the boat.”
He said Deaton’s had been invaluable in his endeavor, along with the boat’s previous owner Geoffery Hollings.
“They have been fantastic. I bought the boat at their sail yard,” he said of Deaton’s. When he planned for the extended journey, Deaton’s was his obvious choice to prep the craft.
“I know the job will be done right,” he said. “They are going to do a really proper job. It is a 30-year-old boat, so the update they are doing is all the rigging
, the mast
, new instrumentation, new electronics
for all the critical systems.”
Sockwell said Hollings was equally kind when he bought the boat.
“He bought me all new fire extinguishers, flares, new dial lights, and other gear
, about $800 worth of stuff he didn’t have to do,” Sockwell recalled. “People have been very excited and very supportive helping me get to this point.”
Sockwell said he has planned and researched his dream for years, and also taken the boat on some test run trips to the Bahamas
, with a number of sailing friends.
Last year he pulled the boat out of the water
and he and his father went on another excursion — New Zealand
. Because of his mobile web business, he was able to stay over for more than four months.
The first leg of the trip will be a 1,200-mile offshore
run to the Virgin Islands
, lasting 10 to 14 days. During this sail, he will be about 500 miles off the coast, sailing due east in the Atlantic Ocean
and then taking a hard right.
He said sailing food
is never heavy, mainly consisting of dehydrated or camping meals
, along with nutrition bars, nuts and foods of that sort.
His plans call for going from the Virgin Islands
through the first of the year, making their way down the island chain and the moving on to Venezuela
by June of next year.
“Then, we will make our way to Columbia
and probably spend a season there,” he said. “I’ll probably pull the boat out of the water
and hike down to different areas of South America
He said the crew members may fluctuate during the journey.
“I’ve been talking about it for five years, so there are lots of friends who want to come,” he said. “I want to sail out into the world. I’ve been planning and prepping for all these years just to get to the day when I have the boat in the best shape and I have knowledge. But, if I get to a point where, like I really like Panama
and I want to stay there two-and-a-half years, I’ll stay. It is just kind of a complete open-ended time frame.”
He does have some other destinations once he goes through the Panama Canal
to the Pacific Ocean
and plans that go through the next four or five years.
He said tempering the dream with reality has always been in his mind.
“It sounds very romantic to go sailing off, but there is always the day when the bilge pump
quits working,” he said. “But, I didn’t want to do the 9 to 5 job. I’ve always been a little different in that sense. I just couldn’t see a good reason to do it. So, I tried to come up with a plan to be able to have a little more control over what I can do in life.”