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Thoughts on a circumnavigation

Jul 8, 2011
<p>Bahati under shortened sail (click for larger image).</p>

Bahati under shortened sail (click for larger image).

Nat Warren-White recently completed a circumnavigation aboard his Montevideo 43, Bahati. Here are some of his thoughts about "tying the knot" — crossing his outbound track — and the changes that are inherent in so momentous a voyage.

"I first read Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World as a teenager and I dreamed of following in his footsteps from an even earlier age. At 21 I almost managed to embark on the journey I would ultimately have to wait until age 61 to complete. In retrospect, I was probably better equipped in all but the physical aspects to take on the challenge in my later years. Fortunately, my body and mind stood-up pretty well to the demands of ocean passage-making though Neptune easily found my weak spots. Finally, and surprisingly, the hardest part of the journey came when I was tethered to terra firma and not when we were offshore (with the exception of my two solo passages through the Straits of Malacca).

"I now understand firsthand is that “closing the loop/tying the knot” is a very different feeling than a return mountain trek. A circumnavigation takes so long that, by the time I have reached the end, things have changed dramatically.in the world, ashore in the familiar but strange harbors we sail into, and, most particularly, in myself. What I have learned, about my own psyche, about my boat and the art of sailing, seamanship, geography, and people and places, makes it impossible to see things in the same way I saw them when I left. The deep satisfaction comes from the knowledge that I have actually lived the dream. The sadness comes from knowing that I can’t really ever go home again because what I remember as “home” has changed. There are more boats and more people out here now. There is more crime and less peace on land and at sea. The oceans are more polluted than ever before. And I am more acutely aware of these changes than I was even five short years ago. My eyes have been opened in ways that I could never have predicted."

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