May 13, 2010, 9:33 AM
Post #54 of 73
Re: [texasjump] Definition of Circumnavigation or similar
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THE WETASS CHRONICLES: ADVENTURE LOST
By Tim Zimmermann, Sailing World
When Jessica Watson set out from Sydney, Australia last October to sail non-stop around the world, solo and unassisted, I was - how shall I put this? - extremely skeptical. It wasn't her age - just 16 - so much as her inexperience, though that is age related. It didn't help that she collided with a freighter before the start. I thought her parents were idiots.
Mostly, though, it was my perception of solo, Round-the-World (RTW), sailing as an epic, dangerous, and lonely challenge, requiring superhuman discipline, an ability to survive on little sleep, and the capability to fix, invent and jury-rig your way around the globe. I got that perception from devouring the RTW sailing literature from the early days: Robin-Knox Johnston, Bernard Moitessier, Miles Smeeton, and many others. Also, from following the inspired craziness of the Vendee Globe. This canon elevates solo, RTW sailing to world-class adventure, matching anything you can find in mountaineering or exploration.
But now that Jessica is cruising serenely toward Sydney on her S&S 34 Ella's Pink Lady, about to conclude her voyage successfully and become a marketing superstar, I realize that it's time to update my perception.
I don't want to take too much away from her accomplishment. Any solo, RTW voyage is a big deal, and I sincerely doubt I would have fared as well. She was knocked down multiple times, slugged her way through gales and headwinds, and at least early in the voyage sometimes appeared on the verge of tears.
But after following her voyage I was struck by how much the nature of this sort of adventure has completely changed. It just doesn't feel very "solo" or "unassisted" anymore, and that takes the blood and guts out of it. Think of all the time Jessica spent on the sat phone, talking to her family and shore team. Problem with the autopilot or generator? Get on the horn with the manufacturer for step-by-by step repair instructions. Feeling lonely and blue? Call up your Mum for a chat and some bucking up. Need an emotional lift? Read the comments on your blog.
And then there is weather. Without doubt, the most challenging element of early voyages was a nearly complete inability to know what weather lay ahead in time to do anything about it. So part of the deal was having the snot knocked out of you on a regular basis. In the Southern Ocean, you got the snot AND the crap knocked out of you, and that was why it was such a hoary, intimidating place. -- Read on: http://tinyurl.com/25m56jl