BY HER OWN estimation, Tammy Kimball '96 didn't wear shoes for an entire year.
Kimball--who by day is an engineer for GRI in Beaverton--captained a sailboat circling the globe for two years along with her husband, Dan; high school-age son, Courtney; and cat Pearl. The family returned in November 2005.
The Kimballs had only casual sailing experience before embarking on their voyage. Because of their relative inexperience, they had to learn almost everything--from hand-stitching torn sails to securing supplies and appeasing bureaucratic customs officials.
"It's not just sitting around having umbrella drinks," says Tammy Kimball.
The Kimballs' boat, Anjuli, is small by most standards, only 36 feet, and the cabin--where the Kimballs slept, cooked, and took shelter--is only 200 square feet.
They stayed an average of three weeks in each port, visiting locations as varied as French Polynesia, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, and Japan.
Kimball was struck by the profound poverty in some countries, especially in the Solomon Islands, and she was surprised by the generosity of these people who have almost nothing. She found the trip gave her new perspective on the wealth and conveniences Western societies take for granted.
"In most of the countries we visited, wealth is gauged by how much you can give, not by how much you have," says Kimball.
Courtney Kimball took distance-learning classes from Portland State to compensate for the high school courses he missed during the trip. The experience influenced him to become an international business major at Portland State.
The family plans to take another sailing trip to Mexico and Central America within the next five years. Tammy Kimball advises that despite the perception that a trip by ocean around the world is only for the wealthy, it can be a realistic travel option.
"It's a unique way of visiting other countries, rather than arriving on an airplane," she says. "It's something that's in everybody's grasp."
Profile by Zach Elliott Kronser