About Us

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.     ~ Mark Twain


Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.         ~ Mark Twain

Mark dreamed of going to sea after reading several books his Mom gave him as a kid (Dove, by Robin Graham; The Incredible Voyage, by Tristan Jones). After learning to sail as a youngster, and sailing both windsurfers and Hobie Cats through college, Mark took a job as a deckhand with Clipper Cruises right out of college. It was supposed to be a summer job. That was 26 years ago.

After working his way “up the hawse pipe”, earning sea time and testing for successively bigger U.S. Coast Guard licenses, Mark moved west in 1990 to work for Lindblad Expeditions as Chief Mate aboard M/V Sea Bird. In 1991 he became a Captain, a position he held for over 20 years. While at Clipper, Mark worked as either deckhand or junior deck officer on the waters of Maine, New England, the Hudson River, Chesapeake Bay, the Intracoastal Waterway, U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Leeward and Windward Islands of the Caribbean, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, and the Orinoco River. As a Captain with Lindblad Expeditions, Mark has navigated the waters of Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Puget Sound, the Columbia and Snake Rivers, San Francisco Bay, the Gulf of California, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize and Honduras. He has also acted as a liaison officer aboard the Greek-flagged S/C Pan Orama in Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania.

Mark bought Cheers, a Morgan 382, in 1989 in Annapolis, Maryland, and has called it home ever since. In his first decade of boat ownership, Mark sailed Cheers down the Intracoastal Waterway and out to the Bahamas, back to Florida, trucked it cross country to the San Francisco Bay, sailed it around the Baja Peninsula and into to the Gulf of California, and finally trucked it north to the Pacific Northwest.


Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.          ~ Gary Snyder

Beginning life as an Army brat, Michelle has, more or less, been a lifelong naturalist and traveler. Her desire to “see the world” began with a summer backpacking in Europe at the age of 18. After that came a 3 month-long trip to Brazil and Argentina, travels in Thailand, and 2 months traveling in southern Mexico by bus. Moving to Southeast Alaska right out of college, Michelle began her career as a naturalist guide, and started exploring the natural world in a series of extended wilderness trips. Two weeks on Southeast Alaska’s outer coast in a sea kayak, and a number of extended river trips on the Tatshenshini, Alsek, Green and Colorado rivers, all confirmed Michelle’s love of wild places.

In 1998, Michelle began working as a naturalist with Lindblad Expeditions. Over the next 13 years, she worked as a guide and Expedition Leader in Southeast Alaska, Baja California, Pacific Northwest, Columbia River, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania.

Michelle holds a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona, and an M.Sc. in Marine Biology from San Francisco State University.


He who would travel happily must travel light.          ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Mark and Michelle met in December 1998, while working for Lindblad Expeditions in Baja California, and were married in June 2001 on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest. Mark taught Michelle to sail, and they’ve been cruising and working together for over a decade. Beginning with the Gulf and San Juan Islands of the PNW, continuing up the coast to British Columbia’s Desolation Sound and then back south to the waters of Puget Sound, they spent their first years aboard Cheers exploring the Pacific Northwest. They sailed Cheers down the west coast to San Francisco Bay in 2003, and stayed there until early 2007, then continued south to Southern California. In early 2008, they sailed Cheers from San Diego to La Paz, Baja California, and spent the next 4 years exploring the waters and islands of the Gulf of California.

In March 2012, they set sail from Banderas Bay, Mexico, bound for the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, embarking on Mark’s lifelong dream of sailing to the South Pacific. Currently on an extended “sabbatical” from work, we’re sailing west through French Polynesia to the Kingdom of Tonga, and then south to New Zealand. We’ll see where the winds take us from there…

  1. Jorge Gonzalez Ortega

    Mark and Michelle, Manuel gave me your blog address just yesterday, and I have been reading and enjoying it all day today!. It is so nice to see you are doing it at last. With your flares and a thousand of other things I am starting to Prepare Don Leon and with luck I will be following your wake on March next year. So your blog will be very very usefull to me. Thank you very much!! And the best of luck for the rest of your trip.
    Muchos saludos/ Jorge Gonzalez Ortega

  2. Jim on Sockdolager

    Mark and Michelle – Jim and Karen on Sockdolager here. We are across the bay from you, in Devonport (the boat is in Bayswater). We should try to get together sometime. My email is jheumann@yahoo.com.

  3. Mark (and Michelle):

    Greetings from Southwestern University! Your friends in The Pacific Northwest Association (Jeanne Weiss and Dwayne Stevens) shared your blog with me some time ago. I’ve been checking in once and a while to live vicariously through your travels. What an incredible lifetime opportunity you are taking…I’m so envious.

    I was wondering if it would be OK if we included this news and your blog as a Class Note in the upcoming issue of the “Southwestern” magazine (due out in April). Similarly, I was wondering if I could post your blog on The Association’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SouthwesternAlumni) as I’m sure people would be interested to see your adventures. If either or both are OK, please let me know. I will not print the Class Note or post the blog without your written permission. I can be reached directly at luceroj@southwestern.edu.

    Wishing you both a wonderful journey as your travels continue.

    JoAnn Lucero
    University Relations – Alumni and Parents
    Southwestern University

  4. I left a comment and it disappeared. I’ll test with this one. Dennis and Paula svBackstreets. svbackstreets@yahoo.com

  5. OK that worked. Remember us? Dennis and Paula from Cal 31 Backstreets. KE6KKL. We were having breakfast in Loreto this morning and had a conversation with Jack and Rikki Swenson who told us of your great adventure and directed us here.

    Could you send us an email at svbackstreets@yahoo.com ?

    We are on our way north after four days at San Ignacio Lagoon and a wedding in Cabo. We still have our C-Dory 25 Jammin but are somewhat landbound with a house in Tucson and a condo on the beach in Imperial Beach (SD)

    Great reading of your adventures. We love SE Asia. Had a great trek a few years ago in the hills of northern Laos.

    Take a look at our recent whale encounter iPad link doesn’t work well easier to Google whalecrash svbackstreets

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