FREEPORT – One boat was anchored at the Goslings about 2 a.m. Friday, when Nat and Betsy Warren-White sailed into Casco Bay for the first time in nearly five years.
The boat’s name was Back Home.
That’s exactly where the couple finally was.
On Oct. 21, 2006, the Warren-Whites embarked from South Freeport on their 43-foot cutter, the Bahati, to circumnavigate the globe. Before dawn Friday, they completed that journey.
After anchoring at the Goslings until daylight, the Warren-Whites sailed from the islands into the harbor at the Harraseeket Yacht Club in South Freeport around 10 a.m.
A small group of friends and family members brought noisemakers and brightly colored flags to greet them.
Some of their friends came out aboard the Madrigal, the boat the Warren-Whites borrowed for their honeymoon, to welcome the couple home.
“It’s going be loud, kids,” warned Sam Kilbourn, a longtime friend of Nat Warren-White’s, as he simultaneously blew a whistle, honked a horn and rang a bell.
Warren-White, 61, blew his own horn from offshore in response.
The Bahati — “Good Fortune” in Swahili — came from South Africa and was the perfect boat for the couple’s adventure, said Nat Warren-White.
The trip around the world provided a wealth of experiences. Warren-White said one of his favorites came when the boat’s steering mechanism broke and the couple used emergency steering to come into Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.
Four humpback whales surrounded them, circling around and under their boat.
Betsy Warren-White, 60, said she loved the islands of Vanuatu.
“They are just wonderfully unspoiled islands, where many of their tribal traditions are just very much intact. We visited a live, active volcano on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu,” she said.
She said the joy of the voyage was rooted in the connections she and her husband made with other sailors and with residents of the islands they visited.
“We hold those memories and connections so near and dear.”
There were also low points.
Nat Warren-White’s parents, both of whom loved the ocean, died while the couple was at sea.
“I wanted them to sail into port with us,” said Betsy Warren-White.
To remember them, she hung a small flag on the Bahati’s rigging Friday morning.
Over the course of the trip, the Warren-Whites’ 30-year-old son, Josh, of Berkeley, Calif., joined them for a year and a half. Other family members and friends boarded during the trip.
The voyage was Nat Warren-White’s lifelong dream; it was out of reach financially when he was younger.
Said his wife: “I tried to talk him out of it for years, but I eventually gave up. I knew it was impossible.”
Betsy Warren-White grew up in Concord, Mass., and Nat was raised in South Freeport. He said he has always loved the ocean, and worked in the local boatyard when he was younger.
Betsy had never sailed much, but said she is glad she made the voyage.
“I’m happy to be home, to be with my family, my friends, my garden,” she said. “But it was fantastic.”
It’s unclear what the future holds for the couple back on land.
“Eventually I’m going to have to work again, but right now all I know is that there’s a party next week for us. That’s a start!” said Nat Warren-White.
While they won’t live on the boat this summer, they plan to sail up the coast of Maine.
“And at least I can always go sleep on her,” Nat said.
Staff Writer Ellie Cole can be contacted at 791-6354 or at: