They needed more sailing time to feel comfortable.
By December 2000, they were ready: an eight-hour trip through the Panama Canal. "An engineering marvel," said Suza, a mechanical engineer.
And that's when the cruising really started. Panama to the Galapagos: 800 miles. Then another 23 days at sea. One of them always awake. No land visible. Just the two of them.
"I like it. To me, it is meditative," Suza said. "She does it much better than I do," Rick admitted. "I just sit there and feel sorry for myself, look at my watch and think about when I can go to sleep."
Twice, the pair took breaks in their sailing trip to work and raise money, both times as civilian contractors at a U.S. Army base on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The first time for just over two years to March 2004, the second from 2005 to 2008.
Then the pair headed toward Micronesia and Southeast Asia. Exotic. Beautiful. A highlight of the trip, they recalled.
In the Bay of Bengal, weather tested them. They now call it: the Great Gale of 2011.
"It's like you're in a washing machine and you can't get out," Suza said.
One yacht traveling at the same time was lost. Others turned back to Thailand. The Goltzes pressed on to Sri Lanka.
They contemplated heading up to the Red Sea, and even talked with friends about a rendezvous in Greece. The trip would take them through pirate territory; there had been 28 attacks around that time.
"We're just like, 'Are we going to go with pirates or are we going to go with Mother Nature?" Suza said. "And the difference is going 10,000 miles off our path, which is like a year, two years."
They chose Mother Nature, even though that meant the Cape of Good Hope, which as Suza noted "eats boats." A crew they'd befriended opted for the Mediterranean route and was captured and killed by Somali pirates.
After rounding South Africa, the Goltzes set off on two nearly back-to-back 20-day passages that brought them from Cape Town to Brazil. That was in 2012.
Brazil proved one of the tougher journeys. They explored the Amazon delta, which was surprisingly deep and tested them with currents. "Trees would come floating down and snag your anchor and off you go," Rick said. "We actually drifted one night," Suza said.
She was accosted by a machete-wielding mugger on the mainland. Many of the other sailors they befriended were robbed.
On July 5, 2012, they paused in French Guiana to tour the space center and watch an Ariane 5 launch, bringing back memories of their space shuttle days.
About a month later, they crossed their own path in Trinidad. They'd circumnavigated the globe. How did they celebrate? "A big kiss," Suza said.
Now, both say it's good to be back on the Space Coast, having arrived at Harbortown Marina on May 31. They're busy unpacking Voyager into the Cape Canaveral condo they own and rented while away. In the decade and a half they were gone, Rick and Suza missed America's Y2K fears, the election of the first black president, almost the entire assembly of the International Space Station.
But they're back home now. Suza noted that the trees look taller. They're catching up with family, and enjoying sleeping in a bed big enough for Rick's feet not to hang off the end.
Both are looking for jobs, ideally in the space industry.
Voyager is for sale.
"We are ready to stop now," Suza said. "I know I certainly am," Rick added.
"We are ready to move on to the land adventure. That's what we're going to do next," said Suza.
Information from: Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.), http://www.floridatoday.com