We take electricity so much for granted that, during power outages, we continue to flip
light switches in our search for a candle or flashlight. With no power, food stores close
and cars can't get fuel, yet few people are prepared for a natural catastrophe.
Sailors also realize that weather forecasts and technical devices are not always reliable,
yet they depend heavily on modern technology and have no back-up plan, should it fail them.
Marvin Creamer knew that nature can be extremely violent and dangerous, but he was also
convinced that man is capable of harnessing nature's forces for positive ends. Creamer
believed that nature with all its quirks is more consistent and dependable than man-made
The Globe Star ran into 90 mph winds, 40-ft. seas and experienced several knockdowns. Marvin
dislocated his shoulder while attempting to take down the storm jib, and two hours later,
Globe Star's mast was 45 degrees under water!
Technical and material failures, however, proved as bothersome as storms. One of the first
blows to the Globe Star, was a dangerous fire in the galley due to faulty oven construction.
Half way between Whangaroa and the Falklands, the “indestructible” stainless steel tiller
During the first leg of his circumnavigation, the transponder, which sent positioning signals
to the Coast Guard, quit functioning. Doomsday reporters had a field day speculating on what
likely happened. When Creamer arrived in Cape Town, he called his wife, Blanche. She said,
"I was expecting your call today." She had more confidence in the navigational skills of her
husband than in an electrical gadget!
Creamer expected storms and was prepared for them. He also expected material fatigue and
equipment failures. For decades prior to the Globe Star voyage, problem-solving had been a
near obsession with Creamer and this served him well.
REDISCOVERING THE PAST
When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, he made that now famous statement,
“One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Most people assume that there is little
left to discover, but Marvin Creamer showed the world a serious deficit. After successfully
completing his circumnavigation of the globe without instruments, Creamer told reporters that
he had just taken "one small step backwards."
In our insatiable appetite for knowledge, we have become ignorant in many respects. Students
who send hundreds of text messages daily can not spell. Knowledge is committed to memory, but
that memory is on a hard drive or server out in cyber-space. In man's quest for something new,
he tends to forget the past. Few care to learn how grandmother canned fruit and vegetables or
how grandpa worked a team of horses and repaired shoes. In our technological arrogance, we are
no longer concerned about history and the past. This is a disturbing trend that could lead to
"Acts of God" have always posed a danger to mankind, but acts of evil men are just as much of
a threat. Terrorism is an immanent danger. The explosion of an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse)
bomb could destroy all computer chips in a sizable region of our nation, rendering us helpless
and vulnerable to enemy attack. Computers, telephones, wrist watches, cars, refrigerators,
furnaces, air conditioners and global positioning systems cease to function if chips are
damaged or destroyed.
In past centuries, explorers captained fragile wooden sailing vessels across the mighty oceans,
discovering new territories and continents. Once man had traveled from Pole to Pole, a new breed
of explorers set their sights on the moon and planets, ushering in the space age. More recent
exploration has produced the age of technology, also called “The Information Age.”
A number of years ago, a group was attempting to row its small craft from California to Hawaii
when their sextant fell into the sea. Fortunately, they had a radio and could call for help.
They were connected to Marvin Creamer, who showed them the basics of natural navigation. With
his guidance, they made it to Hawaii.
There is much to rediscover!
SUCCESS & FAILURE
Success and failure are like Siamese twins, difficult to separate. Sometimes our failures become
successes, and then there are situations in which success leads to failure.
Most great men and women were at first failures. Christopher Columbus sought a western route to
India and even after his fourth voyage, he thought he had found Japan and China. Today we celebrate
It is not the success of Creamer's circumnavigation that makes him worth emulating. It is his
determination to do his best that earns our admiration. If he had failed, we would not be celebrating
his achievement, but someone else would have learned from his failures and been inspired to give it a try.
Today, we laud Creamer for his determination and celebrate his success.
Ralph V. Harvey
(Speech given at the 25-Year Celebration,
May 17, 2009)