Joshua Slocum had no autopilot in his yacht 'Spray' but slept during his circumnavigation in 1895 by lashing the wheel and setting the sails. In 2006 some friends of ours lost steering altogether then sailed 1400nm by setting the sails. More and more rescues are occurring because many a modern sailor can't cope with the challenges, witness this appalling story, as reported across the sailing world this week:
Joshua Slocum’s yacht ’Spray’ - no such thing as an autohelm
Juan Dario Zea Restrepo, (Colombian, according to his blogsite entry) the skipper of the 19m s/y 'Folly II' was rescued by the AMVER-ship 'Kota Wangi' which was enroute Los Angeles-Aumel in the North Pacific on May 13, 2013 at 9 p.m. He was around 425 miles off Christmas Island in Kiribati.
He got into distress while transiting from California to Christmas Island because the vessel’s autopilot reportedly failed.
After manually navigating Folly II for four weeks, he had become 'too fatigued' to continue.
Watchstanders in Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu received notification of the distress from a Personal Locator Beacon at approximately 6:11 a.m.
An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii was launched and established communications with the mariner.
A second Hercules was launched at 5 p.m. to provide cover during the rescue.
The Kota Wangi is heading for Australia, just where the sailor wanted to go. The yacht, appropriately called Folly II, has been abandoned at sea.
The Coast Guard reported that the sailor was in 'good condition' and didn't seem to have any injuries. However, the US tax payer has footed the bill to rescue a sailor who plainly should never have been at sea.