Old Town Crier

Captain Martina Jones

By Lani Gering

Captain Martina Jones

From Fair Winds to Following Seas

Over the years we have been very fortunate to be in the “right” place at the “right” time. Thanks to a chance meeting with our pal Shaun Sheehan on Union Street in Old Town Alexandria a couple of weeks ago and the offer of a cold beer at the Old Dominion Boat Club, I was lucky enough to meet Captain Martina Jones and her husband Braun. Shaun and I joined Tina, as she prefers to be called, Braun and another couple on the upper deck and as the conversation progressed I found out that she is a US Coast Guard 100 ton Master (her husband is also a 100 ton Master). This translates into the fact that she is qualified to caption a vessel that weighs 100 tons – that’s a lot of boat! To look at Tina, one would never guess that this beautiful, tall, svelte, brunette would be someone who aspired to motoring a boat of this proportion down the Potomac let alone almost all the way around the world.

Tina is an Army brat whose family is from Indiana who spent her childhood in Central and South America and Braun is a Navy brat and a Naval Academy grad who spent much of his childhood in Japan where his father was a Naval Attache. They both ended up in Alexandria – as most career military families gravitate toward the Pentagon at some point – where they eventually met and married.

Braun introduced her to the wonders of sailing when he took her out on his Annapolis-based 43’ Mason sailboat (she tells me that he knew she was a “keeper” when she didn’t get seasick) where they sailed the Chesapeake and surrounding tributaries as well as sailing many charter boats in the Caribbean. However, after a few years of sailing, they set their sights on ocean cruising and started looking at trawlers. After spending extensive time at the annual boat shows in Annapolis, they decided that the boat for them was a Nordhavn long expedition trawler. Their first Nordhavn was 62’ M/Y Grey Pearl – so named for the color of the hull and Tina’s love of pearls. In fact, she had pearl jewelry on when I conducted the interview. Grey Pearl was lost in a fire while docked in Phuket, Thailand in 2011 but they didn’t let this tragic event put a damper on their quest to sail the world. In 2012, they purchased a 64’ Nordhavn and christened her Ocean Pearl and resumed their voyage. Their modus operandi was to spend 6 months on the water and 6 months back on land where they would chart and plan the next leg of their mission. With Captain Jones permission, I offer you a peek into the blog that she kept over the years.

HISTORY OF VOYAGES – 2000 to 2017

Here is a recap of how far we are along the way of our very leisurely circumnavigation.  From 2000 – 2011 these voyages were made on the good ship Grey Pearl. From 2012 to the present, on her replacement the Ocean Pearl. 

Beginning in 2000 we sailed  the Grey Pearl from the Canadian Maritimes south along the East Coast of the USA, deep into the Bahamas, and departing from Ft. Lauderdale across the Atlantic, via Bermuda and the Azores, with three years spent exploring the Mediterranean, including the far eastern portion and the countries of Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt.

In 2008 after returning from the Mediterranean to the USA, we departed from Annapolis, Maryland, bore south along Central America, transited the Panama Canal and made for Seattle. That summer was spent cruising throughout British Columbia and the winter of 2009 she berthed in Seattle.

In the spring of 2009, she set sail on the Great Siberian Sushi Run (GSSR) – a Trans-Pacific voyage from Seattle to British Columbia to Alaska (Bering Sea) to the Aleutians to Russia and ending August 2009 in Osaka, Japan.

The winter of 2009/10 was spent in Osaka and in April 2010 the Pearl set sail for Japan’s Inland Sea, the Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa, Taiwan, and eventually reached Hong Kong where she  berthed for the winter 2010/11.

In the spring of 2011 the Pearl sailed from Hong Kong across the South China Sea and leisurely through the Philippines. She eventually reached Kota Kinabalu Borneo, Malaysia. 

In October and November, 2011 she sailed from Kota Kinabalu to Singapore and on through the Malacca Strait to Phuket, Thailand where she intended to spend the winter of 2012.  A tragic fire of unknown origin completely destroyed the Grey Pearl in December 2011.

Future plans were to cross the Indian Ocean and then north through the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. However the piracy situation in the Gulf of Aden and adjacent waters was being closely monitored and plans might have been adjusted accordingly. 

 So, all the best laid plans of mice and men… we were concerned about piracy and never expected that losing our Grey Pearl to fire would so dramatically alter our thoughts and capabilities. A fresh start it is and let’s get on with it!

In June of 2012 we purchased a Nordhavn 64 and named her Ocean Pearl. We resumed our travels with the intention of learning about our new boat and preparing Ocean Pearl for international ocean voyaging. We took shakedown cruises to New England in the summer of 2012, to Florida and the Bahamas in the winter of 2013, and returned to the Chesapeake Bay in the spring of 2013.  Along the way we completed numerous refitting tasks designed to ready the boat to cross oceans. 

Finally prepared, in June of 2013 we departed Solomons Island, Maryland, bound for Ireland via the Canadian Maritimes. We went north and east to St. Johns, Newfoundland.  In July 2013, we departed St. John’s and crossed the North Atlantic  to Crookhaven, Ireland, where we landed later that month.

The rest of the summer 2013 was spent cruising the coasts of Ireland, Scotland, and England and after rounding Lands End eventually sailing up the Thames to London.  Ocean Pearl rested in London until the spring of 2014, when she headed south and east.

In May of 2014 we set sail from London, crossed the English Channel, and bore along the coasts of France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and transited the Kiel Canal. Then into the Baltic Sea to visit Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. Finally returning to Southampton, England to spend the winter of 2014/15 on the hard. 

In England, We splashed Ocean Pearl in May of 2015. We left Southampton for Normandy, Brittany, Atlantic France, Atlantic Spain, Portugal, and to Gibraltar. Then along the Costa Del Sol, and Costa Blanca with arrival at Palma in the Baleares mid-September, 2015. We rendezvoused with the other participants in the Great Siberian Sushi Run, yachts Sans Souci and Seabird.

In the fall of 2016, we shipped the Pearl from Palma to Fajardo, Puerto Rico. From there she was sailed by our friends to Key Largo, Fla. in the summer of 2017 we will sail her to Maine and then return to Key Largo.

Due to some health issues, the Jones’ decided that they wouldn’t be able to complete their mission and sold Ocean Pearl in March of this year. This doesn’t mean that they won’t be back on the water because she tells me that they are looking at purchasing a smaller motor vessel and cruising in more local waters.

She now spends time between their condos in Old Town and at Ocean Reef and is now part of a group called the Bone Fish Bonnies in Key Largo. This is a group of women who care about the marine environment as well as catching some big fish. Tina is one incredible individual and if you want to read about their adventures in detail, check out her blog at www.oceanpearlyacht.com and for more info on the Bonnies http://www.bonefishbonnies.com.