Know when to hold, when to fold

Published on November 30th, 2017

Stanley Paris has wanted to retrace the route taken by Dodge Morgan, who in 1986 became the first American to sail solo around the globe with no stops. He also wants to beat Morgan’s time of 150 days, 6 hours and one minute, which began and finished in Bermuda, and be the oldest to do so.

Paris tried twice in 2014, but equipment issues derailed his attempts in January and December. Paris would always begin from his hometown of St. Augustine, Florida, with the intent to pass Bermuda so as to complete two loops: Bermuda and St Augustine. Now at 80 years old, he was amid his third attempt when onboard problems halted progress at Bermuda.

His plan was to make repairs and start again on December 2 or 3, and while he would not be able to set a non-stop record from St. Augustine to St. Augustine, the remaining two objectives would still be pursued. That was, until he took a long, deep breath of reality to realize this third attempt must stop too. Here is his update:

Sometimes circumstances accumulate to a point to where an unwelcome but wise decision must be made – and right now I am faced with exactly that. The final straw occurred over the last two days when I learned from the Word Sailing Speed Record Council that even a successful restart from Bermuda and back again would not give me the record I seek as the oldest to have solo circumnavigated the globe. By their rules I would be short 346 miles.

Here is a quote from their email:
“I understand what you want to achieve but the problem is Bermuda to Bermuda does not comply with the “Around the World” rule ……. as the distance is too short. Dodge Morgan’s voyage in 1985/6 was prior to the agreed definition and ruling, but has been generally grandfathered historically, although this route is not acceptable today. As previously discussed, this is why we have always timed the start of your attempts from St Augustine, as the attempt for the RTW, and then re timing you at Bermuda for the Dodge Morgan “record”………. “You need to extend the route by at least 346NM.”

So really the best solution is a restart from St. Augustine, to Bermuda without stopping there, circumnavigate back to Bermuda and without stopping and end in St. Augustine. This I have now decided on given the following:

• Leaving from here will not qualify as a solo circumnavigation (see above).

• Issues with power generation remain. Previously, one hydrogenator down gave me enough power to add power to the system – now it takes two or three.

• Our instruments that monitor input and use of power are not cooperating and thus efficient power management is not possible. Seems the charging system has lost its “memory“ No expertise here in Bermuda.

• There is a repeat issue that the voltage from the solar panels may decrease the input from the hydrogenators. Again, no local expertise.

• One of the two freezers overheats and is inoperable. No replacement here in Bermuda. Questionable expertise. Domestic and marine are two different skill sets.

• Autopilots still not 100% though it appears we have them operable again.

• We need a generator as a backup and no small marine diesel generators available here. When I originally had the boat designed I did not wish for a generator as twice on my previous boat I had got as far as South Africa and was still green (no hydrocarbons such as diesel, gasoline, propane etc.) but now that has been achieved by another and so that record is not mine to set. Also given the hydrogenator issues this would be a wise backup. The engine alternator just cannot produce enough power – a generator is far more efficient.

• There is not time this year to return to St. Augustine and restart some weeks later. Latest advised departure date is mid-December to avoid the worst of the Southern Ocean weather.

So here we have it. Big disappointment but then again an opportunity to get it right and certainly an incentive for me to stay fit and well.

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