Joe Harris: Ready to Re-join the Human Race

Published on April 19th, 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 with a detour to Cape Town to repair his energy systems and another pit stop in Uruguay due to hull damage. Joe provides an update on April 19…

Sunset here in the South Atlantic. With French Guyana to my left on the chart, it reminds me of “Papillon?” “Welcome to the penal colony of the French Guyana. From which, there is no escape.” I guess they were wrong about that one, Steve McQueen.

So Recife is happily in the rear view mirror, as are the islands of Fernando de Noronha, and on the horizon 2,200 miles ahead is… drumroll… Bermuda! Feels great to say that.

Recent activities:
• Doldrums- a very weird, funky place where the winds are all over the board…or not at all… and squalls abound. Captain Jack Sparrow would love it here. I feel like we snuck through with minimal pain and suffering, as the Doldrums (Horse Latitudes) have been known to stop sailing vessels for weeks.

• Trade winds- Steady winds of 15-25 knots from the ENE – we are in the trade wind belt and hope to remain in these solids winds for at least a week to 10 days. Full main and solent jib in 80° true wind angle with waves crashing over the bow.

• Boredom- Sailing the boat is good – reef in, reef out, a little jib trim, a little jib ease, traveler up, traveler down, hydro-gen up, hydro-gen down – but there is a lot of downtime. I just stare out at the horizon. I love to read and have read a ton of books – just finished John Grisham’s “The Client” which was excellent as usual and I picked up Mick Jagger’s biography again and have enjoyed it more – and it has caused me to listen to a lot of Rolling Stones which I have enjoyed. While never having been a true aficionado, I am becoming one. But boredom is real.

• Anxiety- Subtle, subterranean anxiety exists as a solo sailor. Alone at sea with only yourself and your boat to rely on. Minimal sleep, constant vigilance… it wears a man down.

• Voluntary Solitary confinement- It’s a very nice cell with great views, and while it was clearly my choice, it’s coming up on six months now since my Nov. 15th 2015 departure from Newport and I am ready to be sprung and re-join the human race.

• Squalls- Huge dark clouds scud across the sky from East to West, often delivering torrential rain but not near so much wind as a Southern Ocean Squall packing 35 knots. I am seeing 20kn tops so far in this neighborhood… famous last words.

• Heat rash- It is so bloody hot, and I do not do so well in the heat so I am feeling like an over-done pork chop. I can’t seem to cool down after making a sail change or whatever…I am just roasting and have these little red bumps in various places. They have not gotten too bad yet but are uncomfortable.

• Nakidity- Wearing clothes while getting doused with salt water only exacerbates the heat rash so I am generally naked on deck so I don’t get clothes wet and the water is super-warm anyway so why bother with clothes. A quick rinse with fresh water and light clothes below deck. TMI? Sorry…

• Hold on- Just gotta keep it together – less than 3 weeks to go.

• Newport arrival party- We will organize – impromptu by definition but come if you can – details to follow. Free Budweiser and GS2 Karma Bus t-shirts in the works.

Peace out…

Background: As a result of Joe’s 11-day detour to Cape Town (Dec 28-Jan 8), and his 10-day pit stop in Uruguay (Mar 22-31), Joe is no longer 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 committed to completing the journey. Website: www.gryphonsolo2.com

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