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Archive for July, 2009

Seminar on July 28

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Carole and I will be giving our very informative and entertaining seminar at Book Soup, 8818 sunset, West Hollywood on July 28 at 6:30pm. you can register to attend at:

or just show up

There will be free wine and a lot of Australians and New Zealanders there. Registering will ensure there in enough wine for everyone.

Part of any book sale receipts will be going to charity.

Young circumnavigators

Friday, July 17th, 2009

My son Ryan was 8 when we left, and 14 when we completed our circumnavigation.  He, my wife and I were the only crew for the whole time.  When we returned, Ryan was a very experienced blue-water sailor.  He wanted to go on.  “Dolphin Spirit” was fully set up to be single-handed, completely equipped, proven, loaded with all the right instruments and charts.  Ryan knew the boat intimately, he had experienced three major ocean crossings and had dropped anchor in hundreds of foreign spots, many uncharted.
In all of these ways, and in many others, he and his boat were far more well prepared than were Zac and his boat.  Ryan would have easily been the youngest to solo circumnavigate, but we decided not to for a number of reasons:
1. The circumnavigation Ryan had just completed was fun, the one being contemplated was not going to be that.

2. Sticking to a timetable meant disregarding almost every lesson I had taught him about being weather-wise and cautious.  There is simply no way to circumnavigate in less than 18 months and stay out of problem weather areas and times.

3. Solo long-distance sailors are a danger to themselves and to everyone else on the ocean.  There is simply no way to keep a proper watch and we and almost every solo sailor I know understand that audio alarms do not wake an exhausted person. A solo sailor has to rely on other boats to avoid him, and this is contrary to my teachings to Ryan about being in control of your own destiny to the greatest extent possible. Others certainly do not agree with me on this subject, and that is their right.

4. Ryan had nothing to prove about himself or his skills.

I understand that others don’t share my point of view, but I repeat that I am really concerned that this competition to be the youngest circumnavigator will get out of hand and felt that something had to be said, not to denigrate Zac’s accomplishments in any way, but to put them into a perspective.

My concern is that his exceptional feat be put in proper perspective and that the almost inevitable trend to younger and younger record-seekers that new technology makes possible be staved off.  As Zac has proved, sailing around the world on a timetable, even with all possible personal and technological assistance, is dangerous process and I don’t want to see sailing and cruising tarnished by the death of a child trying to break another child’s record.

I wrote the above before the report in the July 17 LA Times which said that a 15 year old was about to set sail. I rest my case!

Zac’s Circumnavigation

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Zac Sunderland should receive every accolade for his voyage and record setting, but the litany of problems he had should not be taken as typical of a circumnavigation.  The bad weather he encountered was almost completely a direct result of his having to sail to meet a schedule, rather than sailing to suit the conditions.
When my wife, son (eight years old when we left, 14 when we returned) and I completed our almost seven year circumnavigation, we did so without encountering sustained winds at sea of more than 35 knots, and this was not exceptional for most long-term cruising sailors we knew. We did this by simply waiting for the
right weather window, or sitting out hurricane and storm prone months.  Zac did not have this luxury of time.
As a result, we never broke any major gear or equipment, and I stayed married, as my wife gets sea-sick, and therefore calm sailing is almost essential.
Long-term cruising is very safe, much, much safer than living on land, and considerably more pleasant. It really is very nice to be able to say, on any given day, let’s move our house to another place.  If the new place proves to be less than wonderful, we can move again to one that is.
Try doing that on land!


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