OCEAN CITY – One man’s sailing journey around the world ended in Ocean City last month.
In June of 2016, Stephen Butz set sail from Maryland in his 50-foot catamaran, Alyosha. Since that time, he has completed a personal goal of circumnavigating the world by boat.
“My wife and I had always wanted to take our kids out of school for a year and travel,” he said. “So I decided to loop that goal in with a personal goal of sailing around the world.”
Butz – who grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay with his family – said he was ready to make his dream a reality after selling his software company in 2014.
“Toward the end, I was burned out from the executive life and needed something to look forward to,” he said.
That same year, Butz purchased a catamaran. And in 2016, he began the first leg of his journey by sailing to Bermuda with his wife and children.
“We then sailed across the Atlantic and went over with the family that summer toward Portugal and Spain,” he said. “Then my kids went back to school that year, and I sailed back across the Atlantic and down all the way to Panama.”
In December of 2016, his family joined him again, and they continued their journey through the Panama Canal and to Costa Rica.
“Then it was across the Pacific and on and on and on,” he said.
By June of 2017, Butz said his family joined him in Tahiti in what would be a year-long exploration of islands in the South Pacific. Through May of 2018, for example, his family would sail to Fiji, New Caledonia and Niue, to name a few.
“Niue is just a limestone rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” he joked. “The visibility was 100 feet deep and we had whales playing right off the stern of the boat as we were anchored. We spent a week there, and that’s a week I’ll never forget.”
From there, Butz said his family returned to Ocean City, where they’ve owned a place for the past 20 years. But he continued his voyage across the Indian Ocean to South Africa, where his catamaran was built.
“I took it back to the builder in July of 2018 and came back to sail from South Africa to Barbados earlier this year …,” he said. “I only got the boat back to Maryland about a month ago.”
When he wasn’t accompanied by family and friends, Butz said he would use an online service to locate and hire crew members.
“I was able to find grew crew for every leg,” he said. “Generally, I would have between two and three people with me sailing the boat.”
Over the course of nearly three years, Butz traveled 35,000 nautical miles and sailed for as many as 29 days at a time.
“I was out at sea for 29 long days between South Africa and Barbados,” he said. “That was the longest leg that I just completed.”
Butz said he returned to Ocean City in early April and has since launched a charter business, Sail Alyosha.
“I thought it would be great to have a business down here and share my passion for sailing with other people,” he said.
Using his catamaran, Butz said patrons can experience the thrill of open-ocean sailing that he has come to know and love.
“Sailing the catamaran out in the ocean is a very different experience for those who want to try it,” he said.