It’s getting harder and harder to do something challenging and original is sailing. It used to be that a circumnavigation was a big deal, a solo circumnavigation even more so. Take the Australian sailor Jon Sanders for example. In 1970 he did a solo, non-stop circumnavigation. Ten years later he did a solo, non-stop double circumnavigation. As if that was not enough in 1988 he did a solo, non-stop triple circumnavigation. You get the picture. It’s hard to be an original, so I was well pleased to read that this past weekend the American sailor Randall Reeves returned to San Francisco after completing a figure 8 solo circumnavigation, a first. What is a figure 8 circumnavigation you ask? He circumnavigated both the Arctic and Antarctica in one season with only a brief stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia to replenish his supplies.
Reeves left from San Francisco on September 30, 2018 and sailed south toward Cape Horn which he rounded. He then continued to sail around Antarctica passing under the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, under Australia and New Zealand and again around Cape Horn before heading up the Atlantic toward the Northwest Passage, a sea route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He finally sailed around Alaska and down the west coast before finally making it back under the Golden Gate bridge to complete his voyage. He had covered over 40,000 nautical miles and spent a total time of 384 days at sea.
Randall claims that he’s the first person in history to accomplish such a voyage and I believe that he probably is because until recently it was impossible to sail the length of the Northwest Passage. Sea ice made it impassable, but not any more thanks to a changing climate. Reeves was able to make the transit without too much trouble. The 57-year-old sailor, who lives in Oakland, California, has sailing in his blood. He’s the son of a naval captain and grew up with stories of ocean voyages. His dad purchased a boat, and Reeves would “borrow” it while his dad was away, eventually making longer and longer journeys on California’s rivers and into San Francisco Bay. While in college he met the legendary French sailor Bernard Moitessier who had participated in the first non-stop single-handed around-the-world race and then opted to keep on sailing instead of returning to the finish line. That meeting made a big impact on him. “That bit me,” he said. “Meeting Moitessier was huge. That along with just the beauty of being out there, being able to see the wild parts of the world yourself.”
So what next? Doing the same trip with one hand tied behind your back as a true singlehander? Doing it one way then doing it the other way? I don’t know, it seems that it has all been done. That is until someone comes up with something that hasn’t already been done and goes ahead and does it. I am just glad that I did my first circumnavigation back in the day when that was a huge deal; because it was.
Title inspiration thanks to Maroon 5.