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Old 02-06-2010, 01:59 PM   #1
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I just came upon Abby Sunderland's blog about her attempt to become the youngest person in the world to solo circumnavigate. Bah! http://soloround.blogspot.com

She has a lot of sponsors, and she naturally has to plug them at every opportunity. So I'm curious as to how, with all this input and experience, they made such a huge miscalculation about the amount of power she was going to consume, and what a huge shortfall of power she was going to have. Only one week out and she had to head for Cabo San Lucas and assistance with sorting out her power problems.

She has a watermaker and an autopilot. She has a satellite telephone (bah, she has to insert its make and model in her blog - how tacky), weather router. No SSB radio, apparently.

She does not have a wind vane. She doesn't seem to be thinking about power management, though I could be wrong - that's not really something that would interest anyone except another long distance cruiser. Her brother Zac is the current record holder, if I'm not mistaken, so how come she didn't have the benefit of his experience?

I know that I am being cranky and looking for mistakes, but the current obsession with "world's ****est" records is irritating.

What's interesting to me is that the first, Robin Lee Graham, took five years to do his solo circumnav, with the sponsorship of National Geographic, and to my knowledge he hasn't returned to the sea since. He came back to the US married, and moved to Montana. Robin did it without GPS, watermaker, satellite telephone, weather routing.

Does Robin's accomplishment minimize the current crop of young hopefuls? In some ways, IMO, yes. In others, no. I am sure that all those minimalist sailors of the past would have gladly taken advantage of modern devices. However, I just find this grab for records and recognition just a bit false. If that's what I mean.

Perhaps what I mean is that with all the prodding, pushing, sponsors, big money, this is not really about following one's dream, but about something else.

????
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Old 02-06-2010, 03:20 PM   #2
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I think I see your point about emphsis on technology and sponsors, etc.. I agree that good skills, voyage prep and KISS can eliminate the need for most sponsorship needs. I'm kinda turned off when I see large advertisements on the Hull or Sails that are totally unrelated to the maker of the boat or the sails. But that's just me and my opinion, FWIW.

However, I must comment on the follow Quote from your post: "What's interesting to me is that the first, Robin Lee Graham, took five years to do his solo circumnav, ....."

Are you saying Robin Lee Graham was the 'first' to circumnav the world?? I think Joshua Slocum was the 'first' and did so around 1900. It's been about 50 years since I first read his book Sailing Alone Around the World, but I think he was in his 50s when he began.I think it took him several year to complete. He was later lost at sea, still single handing, at about 64. Slocum ddn't intially set out to circumnav the world. He was an sea captain who couldn't get a ship (unemployed) so he "rebuilt" the old abandon SPRAY and set out from west to east, then reversed course and circumnav east to west. Earning his way with a little lecturing, to a small extent, and some local sponsors/friends along the route.

It should be noted that this was before the Panama Canal, so he went via the Cape Horn (actually Straits of Magellan).

Slocum was followed by several others, the next being Harry Pidgeon. Paid his way as photographer and lecturer.

Another point; If I'm not mistaken, Robin Lee Graham's circunav was contested in some 'quarters' since his new wife joined him for one passage, there for the entire circunav was not Solo.

You can see that I relate more to Slocum and Pidgeon than to Graham or Suterland.

However, being in my 70s, it's too late for me to do this and I must wish them all congradulations or best wishes.

Steve
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Old 02-06-2010, 06:05 PM   #3
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I clearly didn't make myself clear, sorry. My intent was to say Robin Graham was the first "youngest to circumnavigate solo" in the modern quest for a place in Guinness. Before him, those who circumnavigated, solo or otherwise, were not trying to make history or get into the record books.

Are you sure that you aren't thinking of Tania Aebi's loss of the then record because her then boyfriend, later husband, did part of the sail with her? I don't recall that about Robin.

I relate more to Slocum, as well. He did it in order to earn money for his family since he couldn't find work as a sailing skipper anymore.

I just don't like the "youngest" push. I notice that, according to Wikipedia, the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) has recently discontinued endorsement of age records for the youngest... Good for them.
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Old 02-06-2010, 06:21 PM   #4
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You maybe correct. I don't have either book around and Tania Aebi might have been the one that was contested because of a "passenger" on board.

As I remember the accounts of Tania Aebi, she was had some sailing experience with her father but was totally unprepared for a circumnav at the time of departure. She hadn't mastered celestial nav. until she was underway for some time/distance. In some accounts, her father gave her a choice, sail or go to college.

Might be worth reading about her account of things. I think I have only read of 3rd party accounts and shouldn't perpetuate them here.

I think I relate to Harry Pidgeon. Mostly because he built his own boat (in San Pedro, CA) as I have have. He also took his profession, of photography, with him and managed to 'earn his way' along with lectures. He later set off again, with a wife, but that came to a sad end. You have to read the book..

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Old 02-06-2010, 08:29 PM   #5
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From her blog....

"Its been about three or four days since I've seen any ships, or any boats at all for that matter, and I was able to get some good sleep last night."

"You'll all be happy to hear that I actually have been sleeping in my bed the past two nights, "

I really don't have a good feeling about this one... more so even than Jessica Watson...

So she doesn't have enough power for all her bits and pieces so they add more batteries and derate her alternator... yep that will work.....

The absence of wind vane self steering is truly odd.......

OK Steve so you can't be youngest around but you could go for the oldest.... 70 is the new 40 after all.....
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Old 02-06-2010, 08:43 PM   #6
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I fully agree with JeanneP about the obsession with records and maybe sponsors. The last may be sour grapes since no one, yet, has offered to sponsor me.

My approach to conveniences (GPS, sat phones, water makers, etc) is that of an old engineer: use all the tools you can have and afford BUT be able to improvise and make do when they fail. And fail they will. That said, I do agree with her that power management is very important, especially on long passages. Provisions and awareness of consumption and what to do about it, especially when you have a lot of power hungry conveniences, is important.

I crossed the Atlantic as a young man of 64. We had a fresh showers every day (we were 2), sent our daily GPS position to the family via an Iridium phone and received a forecast from my daughter via same. In 16 days we spent less than 10 l of fuel, thanks to our sails and wind generator.

Dreaming of a circumnavigation but with a sick wife the dream is fading away.
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
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OK Steve so you can't be youngest around but you could go for the oldest.... 70 is the new 40 after all.....
Hmmm! I wonder who I could get for sponsors. AARP is out since I don't agree with their agenda (politics). Maybe Miracle Ear, or Jazzy Scooters, or more recent mail box clutter Prepaid Cremation Services. However, I'm leaning more towards Burial at Sea.

Yes, I agree, 70 is the old 40. I truly feel that way and if I felt like setting off around the world, I feel confident that I could manage a modest boat. My Ingrid 38 (cutter rig) it ready to go but more sail than I want to handle single handed. The Ingrid is better suited to a cruising couple. I single hand her in the Inside Passages of the PacNW but can always anchor every night and lay at anchor during bad weather.

My regrets tend to be, taking too long to build and outfit my boat.

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Old 02-06-2010, 11:45 PM   #8
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Hello everyone, I almost never post but this topic really interests me. JeannieP, I understood your meaning right away and agree. I find little interest in the quest to be the youngest solo-circumnavigator.

Robin Lee Graham's voyage was great reading at the time and I still envy him that experience at such a young age. Although his subsequent lack of "sailing enthusiasm" has always made me question how wise it was. If it impacted him as negatively as it appears to have, I've often thought, would it have really been all that bad if he had just stopped?

Tania Aebi was the one that was encouraged by her father, rather than Robin selling the idea to his father. Yes, she gave a female friend a ride to an island, about eighty miles and refused to go back and sail it again by herself. I've always admired her for that, although it's really one of the lesser of many examples of her self-reliance.

Those two voyages differed greatly from the current young record setters. I believe Tania was over eighteen (maybe 17?), she just happened to be the first woman. While Robin started his voyage at sixteen, there was more of a feeling of "he / she can do this" rather than, "if we throw enough money and technology at this I'm sure we can get someone of any age around the world safely".
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:14 PM   #9
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Gone are the times when young people with almost no money and no intention to find sponsors, built (or bought) a small boat that fits their budget and started to sail, not even intending to sail around the world. They just loved to sail and they loved the cruising life. They did not care about records (youngest kid single handing on smallest boat...), they just did it. This is it, what makes them interesting to us cruising folks and their books we love to read. Shane Acton (here) on his 18ft yacht Shrimpy was one of these quiet heroes and my favorite. The interest in his journey grew with his miles, and not the other way around. I have read his book several times and my first boat I built was this 18 ft Robert Tucker designed Caprice and this circumnavigator by coincidence triggered my wish and plans to do long distance sailing.

But todays media are not interested in this kind of personal accomplishments, because there are no breath taking records and they are not sponsored and therefore pushed into the public so that the advertisements are on all channels... (a sailing boat without commercials on hull, rigging and sails is of no value for the media).

So, the real sailors are still around, but no chance we read about them because the media do not find it interesting to publish their journeys. That´s too bad.

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Old 02-09-2010, 09:53 AM   #10
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It's worth mentioning, for the factual record, that there are two separate feats being discussed.

* Around the world, solo. This was first attempted and completed by Joshua Slocum of course, and has been done by many others since. The trip may involve stops, may include berthing at marinas, may include some assistance and/or repairs along the way (recall that Joshua Slocum stopped to fit a Yawl rig to his boat before rounding Cape Horn) and is normally done at the trade wind latitudes, east to west. This is what Zac Sunderland became the youngest to achieve.

* Around the world, solo, unassisted, non-stop. This was pioneered by Francis Chichester and later by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who won the first solo around the world race. This has to be done without a stop and therefore usually sails west to east, following the roaring forties through the southern oceans (it can't include a Panama or Suez canal transit because that would require a stop). This is what Abby Sunderland and Jessica Watson amongst others are attempting.

It's worth noting Alessandro di Benedetto's current effort to sail non-stop solo around the world in the smallest boat (currently attempting it in a 21 footer) and Shane Acton's journey in the 1970s where he sailed around the world (although not non-stop, and he took 8 years to do it) in an 18 footer as mentioned -- however that wasn't the smallest boat around the world -- that belongs to an Australian by the name of Serge Testa who sailed around the world in a 12 footer (yikes!), taking 3 years to do so.

I note that the ISF has withdrawn recognition of the "youngest around" title although will still monitor de Benedetto's title as the smallest around non-stop. The remaining categories including fastest around non-stop, fastest around single-handed non-stop, and fastest around non-stop the wrong way (east to west) are still open.
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:01 AM   #11
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"Gone are the times when young people with almost no money and no intention to find sponsors, built (or bought) a small boat that fits their budget and started to sail"

Hi Uwe,

We met a young lad(Jamie) from Sydney, at Christmas Island in 1999, who was sailing around the world on a little 25 foot yacht, Possibilties, a Top Hat I think. He completed his circumnavigaton in 2008, he did not use the canals. So there are still young people who have the courage to follow their dream on a shoe string. Hopefully he will write a book so we can all share his adventures.

I have never met one who was sailing for a record attemp, so really cannot say much, except to wish them good luck.

And about the Media......well enough said.

Stephen
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Old 02-09-2010, 04:46 PM   #12
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All,

I think we can make similar arguments about much of everything....and though I am a little over the whole record thing, I think we can all agree on this one thing that is the most important thing of all...that she makes it, that she has good winds and following seas, and that she gets back home safely to her family and the rest of her life.

Frankly, not having done the whole way around, yet, I have done my share of the US and South America with numerous stops in between....and the journey is always the best part. I read her blog occasionally, and all I can say is God Speed, and Good Luck to her!
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Old 02-09-2010, 08:24 PM   #13
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I remember reading about Michael Perham crossing the Atlantic solo. He had radio, a sat phone, and his father in another boat a few hundred yards away. When he had electronic problems he went to port to have someone else fix it for him. I contrast that with Graham (who I felt was a whiny ungrateful ***) who was truly alone, fixed his own gear or lived without, who earned or caught or traded for his food, who made his own landfalls with a sextant and math. Graham accomplished something. Perham went for a ride.

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Old 02-09-2010, 11:54 PM   #14
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...Graham (who I felt was a whiny ungrateful ***) who was truly alone, fixed his own gear or lived without, who earned or caught or traded for his food, who made his own landfalls with a sextant and math. Graham accomplished something. Perham went for a ride.

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My impressions too. Exactly.
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