Around the world with no technology

Published on July 18th, 2020

In 2019, Bert ter Hart left Victoria (BC) on October 28 to go back in time a half century and sail around the world. Here’s the story:

The Boat:
Built in 1987 at Hamilton Ontario by Hank Hinkley and a Canadian Partner, Seaburban is an OCY 45. Based on the Reliance 44 hull, she’s a go-anywhere Cruising Club of America design by Pierre Meunier that has proven herself over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. Sister-ships have sailed over every ocean on the globe.

The Challenge:
The goal was to sail non-stop, single-handed around the world via the 5 great capes using only a sextant, pen-and-paper, and log tables for navigation. Sir Robin Knox Johnston was the first to do so as the lone finisher in the 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, followed by Chay Blyth who in 1971 was the first person to complete the route in a westward direction. The four finishers in the 2018-19 Golden Globe Race also lacked modern tools, but to date no North American is known to have done it and Bert sought to be the first.

The Route:
After departing Victoria, his route took him south to the tip of South America (Cape Horn), then eastward below South Africa (Cape Agulhas) and Australasia (Cape Leeuwin, South East Cape, South Cape) before heading north to complete the voyage in Victoria.

The Result:

Finishing July 18, he fulfilled most of the mission but it was not without stops. He needed to dock within the first week in San Francisco Bay for fuel tank repairs and to pick up spare air blades. He also harbored in the Falklands during a hurricane plus an RAS was done in Rarotong, but neither time did he leave his boat to go ashore.

The Epilogue:
While an impressive accomplishment, to sail non-stop around the world, a vessel must start from and return to the same point. This standard is in place for the sake of comparing similar claims, and while Victoria, BC and San Francisco, USA are along the west coast of North America, they are separated by 773nm.

Therefore, the door remains open for the first North American to sail non-stop, single-handed around the world via the 5 great capes using only a sextant, pen-and-paper, and log tables for navigation.

Details: https://www.the5capes.com/

Editor’s note: This page has been updated to include Chay Blyth’s accomplishment.

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