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1120 days at sea and still sailing

by Net News Publisher/Sail-World Cruising on 15 May 2010
Reid Stowe and Soanya Ahmad aboard the Schooner Anne, docked on the Hoboken Waterfront. The pair planned to stay at sea for 1000 days aboard the schooner, which Reid built himself. However Soanya became ’seasick’ and had to leave the yacht in the Southern Ocean SW
Most sailors who set out to sail around the world non-stop and unassisted, aim to do the circumnavigation and arrive home as soon as practicable. But as Australian teenager Jessica Watson arrives back in Sydney after clocking up 209 astonishing solo days in a circumnavigation, spare a thought for another solo sailor who's been sailing for 1,120 days, and still going...

On January 16 this year New York City artist, adventurer and sailor Reid Stowe, on his 70 ft. gaff-rigged schooner Anne, accomplished his goal of remaining at sea for 1,000 days (2 years, 7 months and 4 days) without resupply or touching land, in the process setting or breaking 4 world records - but then, like Bernard Moitessier before him, he kept sailing. The journey is one of those amazing tales that most readers would reject if it was fiction.

Stowe, a NYC artist/sailor departed land on April 21, 2007 to attempt the longest sea voyage in history, 1000 days non-stop at sea. The longest continuous time on record was 657 days held by the Australian, Jon Sanders after his triple circumnavigation in 1987. As Reid approached Sanders’ solo record on Day 964 Sanders wrote, 'Well done Reid. Good luck mate.'

Stowe left port in 2007 and was accompanied by his girlfriend and first mate, Soanya Ahmad. Together they sailed from the Hudson towards the Atlantic on a ship laden with three years worth of food, solar panels for energy, large tarps to catch rainwater, a laptop, an iridium satellite telephone, and a Metocean tracking unit that would verify the path of the 1000 days voyage (see google map at www.1000days.net)

Fifteen days out the Anne was involved in a collision with a freighter in the North Atlantic. After drifting for a month, Stowe was able to repair the ship enough so that the couple could keep going. Hundreds of days passed sailing through storms, schools of dolphins, flying fish, colorful sunsets, and demanding physical work to maintain the schooner.

As Stowe and Ahmad entered the rougher winds and waves of the Southern ocean, Ahmad experienced debilitating nausea believing it to be seasickness. She was transferred off the coast of Australia to another boat which ferried her to back to land where it was confirmed she was pregnant. She returned to New York to have her son.

Stowe continued on alone to face the infamous Cape Horn, sail after sail blowing out, low water supplies, one knockdown, and a broken desalinator. Finally, in the Pacific Ocean around day 550 things took a turn for the better. Stowe completed a drawing in the shape of a whale with the course that he sailed. This was the second conceptual ocean art drawing of his career, the first one being a drawing of a sea turtle in the Atlantic in 2001 when he sailed for 197 days out of sight of land. Stowe continued on into the Atlantic and sailed a course in the shape of a heart, which he dedicated to the mother of his son Darshen, now 18 months old.

More than just a sailing voyage attempting to create a record, the 1000 days at sea is an exploration into the spirit of man. Stowe writes in his logs:
'I want to inspire people of spirit to venture where they will and tolerate no hindrance to their seeking. I forge ahead with intensity and fierce emotion and hope and love for everyone else. I hoot and cry when I suddenly see the big moon after weeks of seeing no moon. This feeling of awe and impulse to worship is at the heart of my desire to be at sea and without it I would sail fast to the nearest port.' (Day 630)

Armed with plenty of food, supplies, a positive outlook and a strong determination to finish successfully, Stowe continues onward into the blue wilderness.

Day 1,000 of Stowe’s challenging voyage (January 16, 2010) would put his return to NY harbor in the middle of winter when the storms of the North Atlantic are at their peak. As a result, Stowe has decided to sail with the variable winds and currents of the Atlantic doldrums, planning to return instead on Thursday, June 17, 2010 at which time he will have passed 3 years and will end up at 1,151 days total.

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