Marvin Creamer found crew to accompany him on different stages of his voyage, stocked food, fuel, water and other items including items needed for possible emergencies. In addition to tools and spare parts, he included medicine, splints and even scalpels for performing minor operations.
No sextant or compass would guide him on his long journey — only stars, winds, water currents and occasional signs of life served as his guides. With no normal navigational instruments, Marvin knew that there was a good possibility of his spending days or weeks on a raft or marooned on a desert island awaiting rescue. Even the prospect of meeting death did not deter Creamer. His wife Blanche was also aware of the dangers but she knew that this undertaking was a life-long ambition of her husband and she was not going to stand in his way.
December 21, 1982 was a cold and blustery day in Cape May, New Jersey, but knowing that there would be many such days and even worse, Creamer and his crew set out on the first leg of their circumnavigation without
using navigational instruments.
Globe Star sailed to South Africa by way of Dakar, West Africa and Cape Town. From there, she sailed to Australia, New Zealand, Cape Horn, the Falkland Islands, by Cape Verdes
and Bermuda, finally ending at Cape May on May 17, 1984.
The voyage was certainly not without problems and danger, but Creamer proved that it
was possible to navigate without the use of compass, sextant or electronic instruments. He eschewed even a wristwatch, but took an hourglass for changes of watch! Actually, a sextant, clock, compass and radio were sealed in a locker below deck in event of an emergency, but these remained sealed for the entire journey, which was attested to and notarized by proper inspections.
The boat was equipped with a transmitter which sent signals at regular intervals so the Coast Guard knew of the boat's whereabouts. When it malfunctioned, the media reported the crew missing
at sea, but Creamer's wife had more confidence in her husband's abilities than in electronics. She
was not at all surprised to get a call from him when he reached the next port.
During his circumnavigation, Marvin gleaned much additional knowledge about navigating by nature alone. He discovered that he could depend entirely on the sun, moon and stars -- if they were visible. In overcast and stormy weather, he studied currents and wind patterns. But he also found that the composition and color of the sea, cloud formations, the horizon, drifting objects and different types of birds or insects were valuable sources of information. Creamer obtained his latitudes by identifying a star with known declination that happened to transit through his zenith, directly overhead. After a lot of practice, he was just as aware of his longitude as was an eighteenth-century mariner, so he had only to sail down a parallel of latitude for landfall.
On one occasion a squeaking hatch served as a navigational aid. Marvin had lost direction in a
prolonged dead calm. With no visible stars and currents to guide him, he could
do little more than sit
and wait. When the wind finally began to blow, a crew member moved the hatch cover, which made a
loud squeaking noise. Deductive reasoning told Marvin that dry air coming off the Antarctic had
caused the squeak. Moist air would have lubricated the track. Following the direction of the dry
air, Marvin was able to get back on course.
On May 13, 1984, after 510 days at sea, Marvin Creamer
neared the end of a voyage which had begun as a fantasy in his teenage mind. A normal house fly
which landed on the Globe Star hinted that he was about to become the first person in recorded history to circumnavigate the globe without instruments. Victory was near!
Four days after the fly’s visit, following a night of wrestling with heavy sails, the exhausted
skipper had just crawled into his bunk when he was awakened by repeated shouts. Overhead, a U.S.
Coast Guard chopper circled the Globe Star. Off the starboard bow, Creamer spotted a red marker, the "F"
buoy just 15 miles south of Cape May. At 1 p.m. on May 17, the Globe Star entered Cape May harbor having logged 30,000 miles
in 17 months, eleven and a half of those months at sea. Creamer wrote in his record of the journey, "It has been a jolly romp!"
Using only environmental clues, Creamer had sailed around the globe in a grand feat of record-breaking proportions. Creamer proved what he always believed, that it is possible to circumnavigate the globe in a small boat without instruments.
The soft-spoken 68-year-old retired geography professor became an American hero much admired by those he met during his adventure. Creamer and his crew members docked at Cape
Town, South Africa; Hobart and Sydney, Australia; Whangora, New Zealand; and Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Christmas 1983 was spent in the Falklands where they unknowingly made port at a top secret British military installation. “We were the talk of the Royal Air Force,” Creamer writes. “They thought we were crazy,
but treated us like kings.”
"What we demonstrated," he concludes, "is that information taken from the sea and sky can be used
for fairly safe navigation. How far pre-Columbians sailed on the world's oceans we do not know;
however, it is my hope that the Globe Star voyage will provide researchers with a basis for assuming that long-distance navigation without instruments is not only possible, but could have been done with a fair degree of confidence and accuracy."
Creamer has always been a doer as well as a dreamer. Today, he resides in Pine Knoll Shores, North
Carolina. Although Creamer still has a 17-foot sailboat, he generally stays on dry land.