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Bernie Harberts, julia carpenter, mule, marriage, married, getting married, engagement
Getting married on the town dock (Ben Casey photo)
Bernie Harberts, julia carpenter, mule, marriage, married, getting married, engagement
Getting married on the Town Dock (Ben Casey photo)

Fifteen years ago I sailed back in to Oriental, NC after spending 5 years sailing alone around the world. Hours after tying up a mooring line’s length from the Town Dock, a reporter asked me “what do you fear most”. I said, “growing old alone on a sailboat”.

Flash forward to last weekend. I stood on the same Town Dock with my fiancee Julia. The minister asked, “Bernie, do you have the rings?”. I patted my tuxedo pocket and said, “uugggghhhhh”. Then I jumped in to my mule cart and raced away for the hardware.

Okay, first some sailboat photos (by Will and Deni McIntyre)

Bernie Harberts, sailboat, Sea Bird, Tom Colvin Saugeen Witch
My sailboat “Sea Bird” sailing the last miles toward Oriental, NC, having sailed 25,000 miles around the world. She was a Tom Colvin “Saugeen Witch” design.
Bernie Harberts, lislott harberts, lislot harberts, arthur harberts, art harberts, ursula daniel, obituary
My family, the welcoming party. After sailing alone around the world, it was wonderful being surrounded by my parents and aunt. L to R they are my aunt Ursula Daniel and my parents Lislott Harberts and Art Harberts. They have all since died. You can read Ursula Daniel’s obituary here and my dad “Arthur Harberts’ obituary here”:news/art-harberts-1926-to-2014.
bernie harberts lost sea expedition mule polly rocky mountain pbs riverearth.com lostseaexpedition.com
Me, Bernie Harberts, on an adventure with my mule Polly. (Floydada, TX)

Hi. I’m Bernie Harberts, author and film maker. I’ve sailed alone around the world, traveled across America by mule (twice), pedaled a ten dollar bike around Tasmania and walked across Newfoundland with a mule. Most recently, I sailed a wood ketch from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia Island, off Antarctica. From there, we sailed 3 weeks across the iceberg laced Southern Ocean to South Africa.

These trips have all been documented on RiverEarth.com.

When I’m not adventuring by boat, mule or foot, home is an oak cabin in western Carolina.

bernie harberts sailboat seabird singlehand sailor
Sometimes home is far out to sea. This is my old sailboat Sea Bird. I bought her for the price of a used pickup and worked, wrote and sailed my way around the world aboard here. Here, we’re becalmed in the South Atlantic doldrums. I rowed out in my dinghy to make that photo. No, I didn’t anchor (too deep). I just took down the sails and hoped the weather stayed calm.
bernie harberts sailboat seabird singlehand sailor
When I’m not afloat, in a saddle or rolling in a wagon, home is this cabin in Western North Carolina. Life is good when your lawn is a hay field. The rows are fresh-cut hay.

Carolina Roots

I grew up in North Carolina and went to NC State University. After a few years in the corporate world, I decided I’d rather commute with a mule than a Volvo.

On a saddle mule named Woody, I rode 13 months across America, capturing glimpses few have slowed to document. I wrote 2 accounts of that voyage which you can find in this site’s General Store.

I have also logged thousands of miles by mule and wagon. UNC-TV and Our State Magazine joined my mule Polly and me for one of these trips. That episode, Mule Rider, won an Emmy award for the South East region.

Taking the Spirit of Carolina Adventure Nationwide

Most recently, I’ve extended that spirit of North Carolina to America’s back roads. Traveling with a single mule and a tiny wagon I built in a friend’s garage, I spent 14 months traveling from Canada to Mexico across the Great Plains. Just as I did in North Carolina, I explored things that are particular to an area. This time around, it was horse breakers, Lakota elders, sod hut dwellers, ghost towns and a vanished sea that caught my eye.

I filmed the whole voyage myself – a first ever for a cross-country wagon voyage. Back home I edited that footage in to the Lost Sea Expedition documentary. The 4-part series was chosen to premier on Rocky Mountain PBS (Colorado). Plenty more about the series is at LostSeaExpedition.com

bernie harberts lost sea expedition mule polly wagon travel adventure
Let’s go! My cabin is situated close to some great wagon riding country. Here some buddies and I are heading out on a wagon ramble. The wagon in the front is the one I explored New Foundland with. Behind me, in his old field wagon, is Ronald Hudson. I bought my mule Polly from him. He’s become one of my all-time best wagon riding buddies..

Though I spend lots of time in remote places, often far away from people, it’s always great hearing from folks, especially ones that send hand written letters. Here’s how to get in touch.