A little piece of New Zealand passed through Kenosha this week, with globetrotting couple Gavin and Lica Morris docking their 46-foot-long catamaran, the Sol Maria, in Kenosha Harbor.
Wednesday night, Gavin and Lica enjoyed their second and final night in Kenosha before heading towards Chicago Thursday morning, talking with newly-made friends and enjoying a drink by the water.
They both said they liked Kenosha, appreciating the more down-to-earth, “working class town,” energy and the harbor.
“At two or three places we were told we should come here,” Gavin said. “They said it’s actually quite pretty and the old town is quite nice, and it is.”
From New Zealand to Kenosha
Their journey began in 2009 from their hometown of Tiarua, New Zealand, a coastal town on the country’s northern island. For nearly decade and a half, they have sailed around the world, seeing every place they could.
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They’ve visited Fiji, had a close-call to some “car-sized” chunks of debris from an eruption in Vanuatu, and watched Komodo dragons stroll along a beach in Indonesia.
There were some less palatable experiences, including a harrowing tragedy in 2011.
They had been zig-zagging along the coast in the Arabian Sea with a flotilla of vessels, being extra cautious due to an escalation of pirate activity at the time.
When the group stopped at an Indian port, the group of Americans on one of the vessels, the Quest, didn’t have visas, and set out early after grabbing fuel and supplies by themselves, Gavin said.
“On the third day out, they were captured by Somalian pirates, and then were murdered 48 hours after that,” Lica said.
The group, shocked by what had happened and unable to sail through that level of piracy, ended up shipping their boats to Turkey. Many of them would stop sailing afterwards, although the Morris’ continued.
The couple recalled many more strange and interesting experiences they’ve had while traveling.
“We drove a Jaguar jet around a runway, and we fired an AK-47,” Gavin said. “I went for a bike ride through an Al Qaeda training camp, guns everywhere.”
There was France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, where they met a Canadian couple who inspired them to head to the Great Lakes.
“They said, ‘You’ve got to do the inland coastal waterway of the United States,’” Lica said.
In 2018, when continuing their journey, Gavin learned his mother was unwell. They ended up docking their boat in Chicago and heading back to New Zealand. His mother died in 2019. Afterwards, they returned to Chicago and locked their boat up before returning again to New Zealand.
“We came home (to New Zealand) expecting to come back in 2020,” Lica said. “And then boom, New Zealand locks its borders.”
They finally returned to the states several months ago and readied their boat for travel again. There’s plenty more traveling ahead, with Lake Superior still on the itinerary.
Thursday morning, they headed to Chicago to work on some more boat upgrades, a constant struggle they said, before taking an airplane to France for the Rugby World Cup and the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup.
Gavin recently turned 60 and said he expects he has about 15 years left before his health will be a serious concern for boating. They plan to be traveling for as much of that as possible.
Lica encouraged everyone to travel as much as they can.
“There are so many beautiful places that you have. If you haven’t seen them, go out and do it,” Lica said. “Every little place has its own unique quality about it.”
It is hard work to travel by boat, they both emphasized, with the constant cleaning, thinking and physical activity. But it is also also the life they thoroughly enjoy.
“No days are the same. You move with the moments and opportunities that are put out in front of you and you enjoy them,” Lica said. “You enjoy them because you never know what’s going to happen.”
“The hardest part of this is you meet new friends or new people that you naturally become friends with, and tomorrow you leave them,” Gavin said. “You have a load of fun with them, and then you leave because your adventures lead somewhere else.”