Wednesday, May 25, 2016

PHOENIX: Around the world in 2,125 days

     Okay, so Jessica Watson, sailing Emma's Pink Lady, sailed around the world in seven months.  It took us seventy months.
     It took seven people to handle the Phoenix and there was only one of her.
     I admire her feat and yes, indeed, she did genuinely go around the world but she wasn't exactly "unassisted"--at least not from our perspective.  We had a compass, a sextant, a chronometer, an 18-hp kerosene engine, a generator, a radio receiver and some charts.  She had radar, a self-steering windvane, an electric winch, an emergency beacon, wind instruments, solar panels, a diesel engine, a phone, a computer with internet, email and a blog, daily weather updates from Bob and a family flyover in a private plane.
     We had to navigate, steer, raise and lower sail, cast or hoist the anchor and pump the bilge by hand.  I get the impression Jessica Watson did all that by pushing buttons.  I don't begrudge her that. It made her trip possible.  But Dad would have said she cheated.
     We sailed from Hiroshima to Hawaii, Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Rarotonga, Samoa, Fiji; New Zealand (Auckland,  Wellington); Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns); Indonesia (Timor, Bali, Java), Keeling-Cocos Islands, Rodrigues, Mauritius, South Africa (Durban, Cape Town), Brazil (Fortaleza, Belem), New York, West Indies, Panama Canal, Galapagos, Marquesas.  After 645 days, 1222 ports and 54,000 nautical miles, the Phoenix once again sailed into Honolulu harbor again, stayed two years and finished the circumnavigation back in Hiroshima.
     Jessica Watson sailed from Sydney to--Sydney.
     She had storms, we had storms.  She had high seas and a wet bunk.  We had high seas and wet bunks.  She was becalmed, we were becalmed.  She had amazing sunsets and starry nights.  We had amazing sunsets and starry nights.
     We had our share of publicity, too.
     But she was racing; we were vacationing.  She could motor out of the doldrums and her speed was apparently between 15 and 30 knots.  We averaged four. A good day for us was one hundred miles.  Sometimes the trash we had thrown overboard went faster than we did.
     But we also got to see a volcano erupting in Hawaii, watch the Bastille Day fete in Papeete, dance the hula with Tahitians on the dock of Haapu at dusk.  I watched kittens being born in my bunk.  We captured a Galapagos tortoise and an orphaned goat to add to the family.  We caught albatrosses, shot at sharks, caught a prehistoric snake mackerel, played with a sea lion and a lion cub.  We came that close to being hijacked by escapees from a penal colony.  We participated in an ava ceremony in Samoa and were invited to travel by pony cart (a pony with bells on!) to a Balinese harvest festival at a ruined temple under the full moon.  We met President Sukarno of Indonesia, the queen of the Keeling-Cocos and the Pulenu'u of Lauli'i.
     She is 16.  I was 10-16.  She had the safety of both boat and trip to worry about.  I got a free ride, with my family shouldering all the responsibility.
     I liked it better our way.
     Since then I have been to countries where all I saw of them was the inside of an airport.  The other Jessica didn't even see that much.  If you race around the world non-stop and all you see is ocean or distant, indistinct profiles of land in the distance, what's the point?
     That's just my opinion.


Nakamuras on Saipan said...

I think I'd like it better your way too....

Anonymous said...

You really had a very great adventure huh?I quite envy you for that..I like to try catching a prehistoric snake..Good post and thanks for sharing..
vacationing in phoenix

Meadowlark said...

In my mind, the best thing you have is a list of places that read like an incantation. Words that evoke not just images but entire dreams! I can hear Rarotonga whispered on the wind, Timor cast into the waves, Auckland wielded in defense. The magic is there and I'm so happy that I can read about it.