Joe Harris: Life’s Ironies
Published on January 28th, 2016
Aboard his Class40 GryphonSolo2, American Joe Harris departed Newport (RI) on November 15 in a bid to break the 40 Foot Monohull Solo Non-Stop Round the World Record. That plan, however, got derailed when a stop in Cape Town was needed for repairs to his energy systems. Here’s an update from Joe on January 28…
It is Day 63 at sea for your faithful skipper aboard his trusty stead GS2. My last post was on Sunday when I was quite worried about Tropical Cyclone Correntin, but that has turned out not to be an issue given the path of the storm and my rapid transit to the East.
Unfortunately, Sunday also brought an end to the New England Patriots football season with a tough loss to the Denver Broncos, so Patriots Nation remains in mourning with flags at half-mast. It is time to turn our attention to the Celtics and Bruins in the greatest sports town in America.
I am nearing the chronological half-way point in the voyage – estimated to be Day 67 of a 134 day voyage, which will fall on Monday, February 1st, so just three short days away. So raise a glass wherever you are and toast to all sailors at sea – may we all find safe passage home.
Out here in the Land Down Under (Men at Work?) I am now less than 900 miles from the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, on the Western coast of Australia, just south of Perth and Fremantle. You sailors I’m sure will recall that Fremantle was the site where Dennis Connor and his Stars and Stripes team won back the America’s Cup from the Aussie’s who took it away for the first time four years earlier in Newport. So Cape Leeuwin is one of the 3 “Great Capes” (Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn being the others) and passing it will be a major milestone of the circumnavigation.
After that, the South East Cape of Tasmania is the next marker, which is just to the south of Hobart, Tasmania, the finish line of the famed Sydney-Hobart race. Tasmania is followed shortly by the southern-most part of New Zealand- Stewart Island – which I anticipate passing under in about two weeks. So many milestones on the horizon after a lengthy open-ocean passage from Cape Town.
Life onboard has grown a bit routine, with time spent on deck vs in the cabin dictated by weather conditions. It had been glorious sunshine for two days but now it is cold and gray and rainy so going up on deck requires full foul weather gear and then much water is brought below, so the cabin is damp and chilly. Commanders Weather has actually asked me to slow down a bit, as there is a major low pressure system building south of Australia, so I am making between 8 and 10 knots instead of 9-12 knots until I hear further about the storm brewing ahead.
For reading material, I just finished re-reading Bernard Moitessier’s classic, “The Long Way” – the story of the first solo, non-stop race around the world called the Golden Globe and sponsored by the London “Sunday Times” newspaper. A rag tag collection of boats and skippers departed Plymouth, England in the fall of 1968, with only one – Sir Robin Knox-Johnson of England – making it all the way around non-stop in 300+ days to claim the prize.
Moitessier had been leading the fleet on elapsed time when he rounded Cape Horn and instead of heading back to Plymouth, he turned East and rounded Africa and New Zealand again on his way to Tahiti – effectively sailing 1 and 1/2 times around the world without stopping. Moitessier was the original cosmic muffin, born of French descent in South East Asia and brought up amongst fishing boats in Vietnam.
He sailed the world with panache and lived a simple, spiritual existence in harmony with the wind and waves and creatures of the sea. His famous line that he sent in a message tossed to a passing freighter announcing his change of plans read, “I am continuing non-stop towards the Pacific Islands because I am happy at sea, and perhaps to save my soul.” Hmmm! He also commented soon thereafter, “There are two terrible things for a man: not to have fulfilled his dream, and to have fulfilled it.” Life’s ironies.
Grok on that my friends – and stay thirsty!
Background: As a result of Joe’s 11-day detour to Cape Town (Dec 28-Jan 8), While Joe will no longer be able to officially break the existing non-stop record of 137 days, 20 hours, 01 minute, 57 seconds – set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan in 2013 – he will continue to unofficially better the mark. Website: www.gryphonsolo2.com