Most of the stories of lone yachties taking on the oceans are about those from the English-speaking world, but then we followed the amazing exploits of thirty-something Polish sailor and adventurer, the beautifual Natasza Caban, who sailed around the world from Honolulu between July 2007 and December 2009. Now there's another Pole who started in a more conventional manner from Europe - and, despite the privations, he is going strong!
Tomasz Cichocki, 56-year-old Polish sailor with forty years sailing experience and a trained psychologist and educator, set out, after eight years preparation, to try to circumnavigate the world non-stop. The yacht is a Delphia 40.3 named Polish Copper, and he set out from Brest in May 2011, and headed for the Southern Ocean.
Sadly, the 'non stop' part of the challenge was negated when the boat struck an object in the water, possibly a semi submerged container, approximately 1000nm south east of South Africa, the impact flinging Tom across the cockpit and knocking him out, cracking a rib and also giving him a very stiff and sore shoulder.
When he came to he found the steering was jammed, but after attempting to repair it he had only 20% steering, so it was decided to turn back to Port Elizabeth, in South Africa, where Tom had medical treatment and the boat was hauled out and the steering repaired.
Although Tom has been at sea for 185 days now, almost a month was lost in returning to South Africa and then getting back to his turning point in the Indian Ocean.
He has been making good time across the Indian and Southern oceans and is now in the Pacific, having just crossed the International Date Line and as of the 30-12-2011 was approximately 1000nm south east of New Zealand at 50.56 degrees south and 171.92 degrees west.
Two thirds of the way across the Indian Ocean, his satellite communication had failed, and it wasn’t until he got close to Australia that his position could again be recorded via the Australian AIS system, though Tom sailed approximately 400nm below Australia.
Tracking has now been taken over by the Canadian 'Exact Earth' system, so fresh position updates are now being recorded on the website www.kapitancichoki.pl every few days and his progress can be watched there.
He is currently in 35knot winds and 5m seas but the daily runs are good, the boat behaving well, and he expects to reach Cape Horn around the end of January -pretty good timing, being close to the height of summer.
An interesting occurance is that within several weeks Tom should cross paths with another Polish skipper, Roman Paske, who is attempting a record of his own, sailing a catamaran the 'wrong way' around the world, from East to West, and it is hoped that if they can meet, most definitely in the middle of nowhere, that they could 'take tea' together. Perhaps an irish coffee could be better, but it will probably prove to be a metaphoric cup anyway, knowing what the swells of the Southern Ocean are like.
To follow Tomasz's journey go to his Polish website, http://www.en.kapitancichocki.pl