San Diego Author Shares Stories Of 15 Years Of Adventures On The High Seas
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / October 14, 2019
A boat builder was approached to build a custom catamaran for a wealthy Belgian man and his family and it turned into a 15-plus-year adventure that spans 118,000 miles to some of the remotest places on the planet.
Speaker 1: 00:00 To many people. It must sound like a dream come true. Getting away from routine cell phones everyday life and sailing into adventures on the sea. That's exactly how San Diego boatbuilder. Lou Mauer has spent much of the last 15 years. The family who asked him to build a beautiful 80 foot catamaran also asked him to become its captain as they took their kids on a series of adventures in the South sea islands and beyond. Now, Mauer has written a book about those journeys and the vessel that started at all called Milana Lou Mauer. Welcome. Well thank you. Tell us about the Mo Ana, how the catamaran, how it looked and what it was capable of.
Speaker 2: 00:45 Well, it, it, it's a very special boat. It had to be, it had to be capable of traveling across oceans, which required tremendous range. It had to be self sufficient in remote places where there would be no support services. There'll be certainly no coast guard or any help if anything went wrong. And it also had to be, um, it had to be five-star inside. It had to be. It had to represent the best, uh, of accommodations for the family. And it had to have equipment that was totally fail safe with ultimate backup systems and, and everything that required to, to spend long periods of time in very remote places.
Speaker 1: 01:27 Now, the boat was commissioned by the head of a Belgian family who also asked you to captain it. What did this family want to do?
Speaker 2: 01:36 Well, it started with a dream. Um, this man had an incredible dream to take his children to these far away places before they were discovered and changed forever. And that required this very, very special boat. But beyond that, um, to do it, this man had to, had to do something very, very different, which separates the people that keep their boats in marinas year-round, week after week, and never go anywhere. Because to do what we did, you have to have a, an extraordinary boat. You have to have a professional crew. You have to have the resources and the time, the imagination and the courage and, and all of those things are required to do what what we did. Um, and which explains why we rarely saw any other boats where we went.
Speaker 1: 02:31 No, as I say, for the next 15 years, you, your crew and the family with their four children would visit some of the most remote places on earth. As you say, you just didn't see any other boats or any other people visiting these places. What were some of those places?
Speaker 2: 02:48 Well, everyone has heard of, you know, places like Australia or New Zealand or even places like, uh, the Solomon Islands, but within those places, or I should say around those places are the remote atolls in islands that we visited with names like rally Shoals and Kimberly's and, and, uh, IGA, Matt hall, uh, Osprey reef. These are places that, that no one, no one knows about, but, uh, they are within the areas of, of these, these major islands. And because of that, that's why we, we didn't see anybody there. What were some of the highlights for you? Probably the most long lasting and enduring, uh, memories where our, our, um, interactions with the natives, the natives were so kind and, and, uh, accommodating and friendly and the effect that it had on the children as they grew up was, was quite remarkable. Well, yeah, I mean, they did grow up on this boat for 15 years, but I mean, they weren't on it all the time.
Speaker 2: 03:55 They went to school, right? Correct. The, the, uh, the crew and I would move the boat from one remote place to another, and then the family, every time there was a school vacation or summer vacation, they would fly in and meet us. But that requires some, some, some daunting travel, uh, arrangements, uh, involving connecting flights over and over and over. Uh, sometimes a charter aircraft landing on dirt strips. Uh, we would sometimes pick them up in, uh, in the chief's pickup truck and take them down to some little, a beach in the middle of nowhere. So, um, it was, it was quite, uh, quite a daunting endeavor. What was it like seeing these kids grow up during the 15 years of these journeys? That was really, that was really, um, a highlight for me. They to begin with. They're really good kids coming from a really good family.
Speaker 2: 04:52 Um, they, they had a really good value system in place, uh, when they very first came as as young children and watching them grow up and how they were affected by our travels and the, the, the kindness of the, of the native peoples. Uh, these were, these were kids that would come to the boat and these were kids that will never wear shoes. They, um, they, they will never make a phone call or eat ice cream, but they offered unconditional friendship with the children and we would often see our children paddling off miles away to, uh, to a native village where they would experience the real, real life of, of natives in those far away places. Were there any scary moments? Well, being caught in a cyclone in new Caledonia, uh, being confronted with a desk zone of unbelievable waves in the South Taranaki bite off of New Zealand and in general, just a really Tufts slogs in Tradewinds conditions. Yeah, there was a lot of, uh, a lot of frightening moments, um, along the way, as you can imagine in all those thousands of miles.
Speaker 1: 06:09 Now in the book Milana, you take people on this journey through words and beautiful pictures, uh, all, all along your 15 years or travel. Why did you make the decision to write this book?
Speaker 2: 06:24 Well, after a couple of years I realized that we were doing something that was, was really out of the ordinary or was really quite special. And so the idea started to creep into my mind, but in the Solomon Islands, just by chance, wa uh, we met a couple there in the owner of that boat was a famous author of, uh, of these Vietnamese Vietnam war, uh, books. And when I told him where we were traveling and what we were doing, he encouraged me to, to, to write the book. When it all came to an end. What happened to the Momana? Oh, that's pretty interesting. Uh, it became impossible to get the kids all on the boat at the same time anymore. They grew up and they had, they had boyfriends and girlfriends and jobs and careers and everything. And so it was decided to sell the boat and we had our last trip and, uh, it was quite emotional at the end of that trip, uh, because the kids realized that they probably would not see the crew and I or the boat ever again. And, and so that's how we thought it ended. But in truth, the boat did not sell because it was so specifically built for what we did. There was really not a market for it. And so, uh, to make a long story short, the boat Tao lives in, in, uh, Italy where the family, uh, flies to the boat, I should say. The second generation flies to the boat and is, continues to enjoy it. To this day
Speaker 1: 07:53 I've been speaking with Lou Mauer. He is the author of the new book Mulana and Lou, thank you. Thank you for coming in and speaking with us about this. A pleasure. I'm quite proud of the book and I'm happy to share it with, with everyone. You can hear captain Mauer talk about the adventures aboard marijuana in person this Wednesday evening at a meeting of the LA Jolla photo travelers club. It starts at seven 30 at the Wesley palms retirement community. The event is free.