I don't know much about ocean racing and cruising. My kind of sailing is the other end of the sport. I race a 14ft fiberglass slab round some buoys for a few hours, have a couple of beers afterwards with my mates, and then home for a hot shower and a delicious dinner with the beautiful Tillerwoman, and so to bed.
No, I don't know much about long ocean voyages, but how did I overlook this?
It dawned on me while I was researching what to write about Robin Knox-Johnston for the upcoming blog extravaganza of April 22 - Robin Knox-Johnston Day on the Web, April 22 being the 40th anniversary of the day when RKJ became the first human being in the history of the world to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world. I came across this account of an appearance by RKJ on the David Frost show in 1970.
On the David Frost television talk show one night early in 1970, there appeared as one of the guests a young bearded man of remarkable poise, engaging of personality, with a well-modulated British accent of the kind that seems to fascinate Americans. Unlike many of the tortured, self-righteous, bearded young dissidents of the period who populated this production, this one seemed almost disgustingly "normal" in political views and reaction to social stimuli. In fact, Mr. Frost had some difficulty keeping his guest's mind off one of the other guests a beautiful and voluptuous movie starlet.
What had he missed most, Frost asked, on his 313-day nonstop solo voyage around the world in Suhaili?
The young man leered at the other guest and replied: "What do
Duh. Of course.
When you embark on one of these long ocean voyages you can take all the food you need; I assume you either take water or collect rain along the way; I guess you can stash a few bottles of your favorite tipple; and you can take some books to read and your favorite music. As long as you can cope with the occasional dismasting and icebergs and 40 foot waves, it's a breeze.
But no umm "female companionship" for 313 days? Geeze. That's real hardship. I'm sure Sir Robin did miss it. What are you supposed to do?
No, don't tell me.
Reid Stowe thought he had the solution when he set sail in the schooner Anne on April 21, 2007 with the intention of staying at sea without outside support for 1000 days. The 55-year-old Stowe took 25-year-old Soanya Ahmad with him as "first mate" (ho ho ho) on the voyage. Problem solved.
However Mr Stowe and Ms Ahmad seem to have overlooked a few critical issues in their ambitious plan...
- Birth control
- The average length of human gestation is 260 days (less than 1000 days)
- Morning sickness + sea sickness = not fun
So, after 306 days, Reid had to dump Soanya in Australia and carry on alone. Soanya subsequently gave birth to the couple's son in New York City on day 452.
Oh well. Nice try dude.
Then it dawned on me. I had been wondering why the peregrination known as the Volvo Ocean Race has so many "stopovers". This isn't so much a round the world race as a frolic from port to port to port to port to port.... 11 ports in all in fact. Cape Town. Singapore. Rio. Stockholm. etc. etc.
Then I realized. It's all about the nooky. It seems that these Volvo Ocean Racing dudes have pretty much every creature comfort on board except the one of which Sir Robin spoke. These poor sailors sometimes have to spend over 40 continuous days at sea without any you-know-what. Winston Churchill is famously supposed to have said that the only traditions of the Royal Navy are "rum, sodomy and the lash." But I suspect that the culture aboard a Volvo Open 70 is somewhat different from the good old days of the Royal Navy.
Isn't it obvious? These red-blooded young sea dogs need their "stopovers" for a bit of hokey-pokey in every port. I would.
So where are these little stud muffins headed next? Let's see.
OMG (as the young folk say). They are due to arrive in Boston in a couple of weeks.
So, all you good Catholic mothers and fathers of New England, watch out. The Volvo sailors are coming. Lock up your daughters... now. You have been warned.