Sailing Faith: The Long
The Gregg A Granger
This condensed article by John Eby first appeared in the Dowagiac Daily News
Photo with Jim Snow at the Dowagiac Rotary Club
Gregg Granger’s itinerary reads like he tried to visit every “Survivor” locale.
Actually, it’s simpler than that—and much more complicated.
The author of Sailing Faith: The Long Way Home sailed around the world for 4 1/2 years with his wife, two teenage daughters, Emily, 15, and Amanda, 12, and 5-year-old son, Gregg II, or Greggii — The Circumnavigators. [He] visited Dowagiac Rotary Club as guest of City Clerk Jim Snow,
“The theme of the book is that the world is populated by wonderful people,” Granger said. “We saw God’s image reflected everywhere we went, despite what you see on the news.”
Before leaving Hampton, Va., aboard a 56-foot monohull boat to cross three oceans, the Grangers' sailing experience consisted of a week aboard a Florida charter and a 16-foot Hobie Cat at their Gun Lake home. Granger grew up in Lansing and worked in his father’s construction business. He earned a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations from Michigan State University.
In 2003, “I was inspired—by God, I believe—to do something different with my life and my family. A lot of people have a life dream of sailing around the world. It consumes them for years. It wasn’t our dream; it was just something laid on our hearts to do.”
Granger continued, “We sailed to the Caribbean and turned west, across the north coast of Venezuela into Panama. The canal is a magnificent engineering feat. We woke up one morning and saw the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. We transited 72 miles through the canal and that night saw the sun set on the Pacific Ocean.”
“The Galapagos are everything you see on nature channels,” he said, recalling the morning a sea lion poked his head into the transom, awakening him with a blast of fishy breath.
Their longest sea passage, 21 days, took them 3,300 miles from the Galapagos to the Marquesas, French Polynesia.
“Survivor did a show there and we met Daniel in Daniel’s Bay. He told us the TV show purchased his house [and] moved it 300 yards so they could fabricate the wilderness for that ‘reality’ show on his old homestead. One hundred yards away was a working telephone booth. Two miles away was a five-star resort.”
From the Marquesas, they sailed to atolls — coral-ringed lagoons — where they intended to stay one day [but were] charmed into two weeks [by the family there].
“The relationships and the friends we made are long-term,” he said.
[Then,] they sailed toward Tonga, where “you step over a line into ‘tomorrow.’ The date changes. There are humpback whales that [w]e had the opportunity to swim with, which are 60 feet long.”
The Grangers lingered in Fiji for a month, then made their way to the active volcano in Vanuatu [while] enroute to Sydney, where they lived for three months.
“It was Christmastime,” Granger said, “but southern summer, so it was 80 degrees. “From there, we sailed up the coast of Australia and across the gulf to Darwin. All along, we had been home-schooling. [Our] oldest daughter graduated on the boat.
“From Darwin, we sailed into Indonesia and went to traditional areas—not tourist areas. We figured we had the rest of our lives for that. [T]his was our one opportunity to sail places we’d never get back to.
“We sailed into the Spice Islands, where cloves grow. From there, to the south of Borneo, where we met orangutans.” One swiped his daughter’s hat and bounded away.
In Indonesia they met Ardi, the polite young Muslim who persistently addressed him as “sir” and “had eyes for my daughter.”
When they sailed five miles across the Singapore Straight, Ardi called from the ferry for another meeting with Gregg’s daughter before converting to Christianity.
“We hear stories,” Granger said, “about how [Muslims] will be excommunicated possibly or kicked out of their families, but that simply is not true in Ardi’s case. His family saw him, just like any other 20-year-old, going down the wrong path. They saw instantly the change in his life from accepting a new faith. They were just thrilled with his choice.”
From Singapore, the Grangers journeyed to Malaysia. They contracted to have their boat painted in 45 days. …their layover lasted 10 months.
“In Malaysia, we felt we were being robbed of God’s plan for our lives. But at the same time, we grew into this relationship with Ardi, we made some wonderful friendships. In hindsight, we were right where God wanted us at that point in time.”
“Today,” Gregg said, “Ardi is our son on the other side of the world.”
[In] Cambodia, “we saw something that just stunned us. [T]he joy on their faces is stunning. Where we’re from, we see happiness, but not inner joy like we saw there.”
The Grangers stayed in Thailand about a month.
The next leg of their journey took them to Oman and Yemen.
“We didn’t expect to like Yemen,” he said, “but we’ve got two favorite places, Indonesia and Yemen.”
After crossing the Red Sea, Granger came down with a 104-degree fever.
A cruise ship redirected him to a “real hospital” in the capital staffed by Jordanian military officers. “I was their only patient,” he said. “I had a very serious form of malaria. I laid in that hospital for three days, but they had no [medicine]. They pulled my wife aside and said I was going to die. They put me on a 3 a.m. flight to Cairo. Pilots did not want to fly a medical evacuation [until talking to the] guy next to me. He was from Guiana and a specialist in sub-Saharan diseases for the UN. Somehow, God managed to get this guy right next to me with the credentials to make that plane fly with me on it.”
Once Gregg recovered, they crossed the Red Sea to the Suez Canal, visited the Holy Lands and Mediterranean Turkey and some of the Greek Islands and Rome.
[T]hey waited out hurricane season in the Canary Islands [and] returned to America through Puerto Rico.
“I’ve been a member of this Rotary club since 1980,” said Robert Eady of Niles, “and this is the most invigorating, interesting presentation I can remember.”
Gregg's presentation at the Gun Lake-GFWC
In 2003, Gregg Granger believes he received a calling from God.
A few months later, Gregg, his wife Lorrie, daughters Emily and Amanda, and son Gregg Jr. boarded their boat Faith and set out to sail around the world.
More than four years at sea, the Gun Lake family accomplished their goal, overcoming battles with malaria, spewing volcanoes, broken sails and jibs, orangutan encounters, the celebration of their daughter’s high school graduation, and much more.
Gregg, Lorrie, and Gregg Jr. visited the GFWC Gun Lake Women’s Club last week, sharing the intricacies of their tale, and excerpts from their 247-page book, “Sailing Faith: The Long Way Home,” with more than 50 club members.
The Granger’s journey began in November 2003, in Virginia, where the family departed America with only one goal in mind, to absorb the physical beauty God had painted on the earth’s surface.
“Our purpose was to honor God and His plan for our lives,” wrote Granger in the book. “All we wanted was to provide a gift of lasting value to our children and to live a fantastic adventure.”
While visiting Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, Australia, and other destinations, the family would stop and spend weeks, and sometimes months, at bay learning each country’s culture and customs. While docked, the family quickly realized they would not accomplish the feat in their planned two-year time frame.
Stopped in Singapore, the group met 21-year-old native Artie, who performed maintenance work on the boat. Artie formed a close relationship with the family, especially daughter Emily, and actually lived with the family for 10 months. While residing with the Grangers, Artie accepted Christ, which proved to be a drastic change from the Muslim religion he had practiced since birth.
“Artie is our son from the other side of the world,” Granger said. “He is not like Gregg II, but that is the only way to put it, we consider him as close as a son.”
Making stops in Malaysia, Oman, and Yemen, Gregg suddenly began suffering from a flash illness accompanied by stomach ailments and a 104-degree temperature. After several tests, doctors feared it was malaria and Gregg was flown to Cairo, Egypt, where he endured three days of treatment before overcoming the sickness.
“For the three days I was in the hospital, I received x-rays, ultrasounds, drugs, services, and more and only paid a fee of $450,” he said. “It was truly a remarkable experience.”
After the malaria detour, the trip continued through the Holy Land, Israel, Turkey, Spain, the Canary Islands, St. Lucia, and eventually back to Florida and Virginia. Granger said the trip taught him that the world is a much more positive place than he once envisioned.
“The world we were taught to know in America is fiction and that is frustrating,” said Granger, reminiscing on the journey. “We were told that around the world, people don’t value human life like we do. That is false. We simply didn’t find those places. People everywhere were just wonderful, and we found that the goal in life for just about everybody is to love and be loved.”
GFWC Women’s Club President Wendy Raymond said the club invited Granger in hopes of expanding their recognition of international affairs.
“Our club has an interest in international adventure and world study and we wanted someone to come in and share their views with us,” she said. “Gregg was able to share information on not only travel, but some things we can support internationally.”
Granger kept a journal during his expedition and after two years of literary work, turned his memoirs into the “Sailing Faith: The Long Way Home” book. The full details of the Granger’s journey, including 20-pages of pictures, is available on Granger’s website, www.faithofholland.com