Joe Harris: Dog Days of Summer

Published on February 18th, 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 February 18…

Your humble reporter is transmitting from a very isolated place in the southern ocean – East of New Zealand, West of Chile…approximately in the middle of nowhere.

The wind has been consistently from the N-NE for the past two days so I have stayed with my sail configuration of 2 reefs in the main and the staysail with the wind about 20 knots just forward of the beam (77° true wind angle “TWA”) . Boat speed is around 8-10 knots – if the wind were just a bit aft of the beam (say 100° true wind angle) I would be going 12 knots. But with the wind just forward of the beam we do not surf or plane.

The Heel angle is about 20° despite full water ballast. Rough sea conditions makes it hard to move around the boat. We just bang. When I go on deck, I am greeted by waves of cold water over the head, which discourages me from hanging out in the cockpit, as I get quickly soaked and cold and there is nothing to do.

So… there you have it. I am not going to glamorize it nor am I complaining. This is “head down – get through it” time in the Southern Ocean with water/air temps remaining warmer than I expected at 57°.

But in the Southern Ocean, any day above water is a good day so let’s look on the sunny side. I am not Shackleton in an open boat. I have a relatively warm, dry cabin to retreat to and be alone with my thoughts.

But I am bored. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy — red rum, red rum” so I tore out the pictures out of the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit” edition and have duct-taped them on the cabin walls and ceiling. I know…kinda a 15-year-old thing to do but I really needed some artwork as the condo was not popping. Now it is.

On board I have narrowed my mind to very basic thoughts – eat, sleep, keep the boat going, make sure the batteries are charged, try to communicate with other humans or dolphins when they come around (but they don’t speak English – I so wish they could or I could speak dolphin).

I smelled myself this morning and was not pleased so thrashed around with baby wipes and baby powder for a while and feel much better. At some point I’m sure I will have to do some sailing again but until that time I just need to survive inside my 10′ x 10′ cabin and my 4″ X 4″ brain.

With optimism…


Background: As a result of Joe’s 11-day detour to Cape Town (Dec 28-Jan 8), 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. However, he remains hopeful to unofficially better the mark. Website:

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