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Insights from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, a person who chose extreme isolation

by Clipper Round the World Race 17 Apr 01:12 PDT
Bill was on the water to capture Sir Robin's triumphant homecoming in 1969. © Bill Rowntree / PPL Media

Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, shares his insights on how to make the most of being in isolation:

"Isolation can be incredibly frustrating. But it does not have to be. People ask how did I manage 312 days alone at sea, but the answer is that I was constantly busy. I had a boat to sail, navigate (before satellites), maintain, steer, plus feed myself. But in that lies the answer, create a project to focus the mind and pass the time.

If you are a yachtsman, you can learn and practice your knots, or how to throw a line ashore. If you are a landsman, well those knots are always useful. Bear in mind I had no one to talk with. No communications at all for most of the time, so I had to think of things that would keep me mentally stimulated. I took to learning poetry. We have wonderful poetry in the English language, but anything that makes the mind work is good.

Now many of us are staying at home with time on our hands, we could put the time to good use. It might amuse children as well.

Knots are something many of us use daily so why not practice them, and learn a few new ones? It will keep those skills you have learned fresh for when you can get outside and for my Clipper Race Crew - when they rejoin their boats next year.

You have probably seen lines thrown from a boat that don't cover the distance, or get tangled on their way. I suggest you go out into the garden with a rope and practice to develop this skill. A quick tip is to make two coils, not too large, and throw the smaller one, allowing the larger one to unravel as the first one extends.

Isolation is something we are going to have to get used to for the next few weeks. I had 312 days of it, but I had plenty to do during that period which made the time pass reasonably quickly. So there is the answer. Create a project to fill the time. I cannot get over to my boats where there is always something to do, so the garden furniture is getting sanded and repainted and then I will have to face up to the long put off job of sorting out everything in my Man Cave, apart from sorting out our new Clipper Race schedule of course."

Sir Robin recently spoke to The Guardian about his own isolation experience including being without even a radio. Read the full article here.

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