Welcome to Bermuda! Cole Brauer and her Class40 First Light claiming line honours in the singlehanded Leg 1 of this year’s Bermuda One-Two. © E. Michael Jones
Many, most, maybe all sailors have some version of a dream of sailing around the world. They are, perhaps like Clancy’s office-bound correspondent, fed up with city life:
I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all*
The warm, balmy days rolling downwind, sunshine drying the decks not long after the spray has landed, the swoosh of the waves, the hum of the rudder as you surge down yet another of the endless indigo blue bumps passing for waves, out there in the world’s largest wilderness. More than one sailor has been lured to sea by reading just such language.
Mostly though, round the world sailing means through the canals, with regular stops at islands wrapped by golden sandy beaches and balmy palmy trees rustling in the tradewinds. It does not mean via the three Great Capes nor does it usually mean alone, nor non-stop. Such sailing and sailors are viewed, in my experience, by of most of the American sailing population as loonies, anti-social weirdos.
This view is far from the truth. Attentive and regular readers will know of the Great Adventures of Cole and Cat over this past summer, in both solo and two-up sailing. By the time you read this, Long Island native Cole Brauer will be preparing to start her Next Great Adventure.
The Global Solo Challenge is the brainchild of one Marco Nannini, Italian and former solo offshore sailor: the OSTAR, Round Britain and Ireland, and the TJV and the Global Ocean Race, in 2011 and ‘12, around the world in Class40s.
In a similar vein to Don McIntyre’s production of the Golden Globe and Whitbread races, the Globe Solo Challenge is a serious challenge, for the everyman…and woman, of which at this writing Cole is the only example.
Operating in a pursuit format, the first two boats are already underway. Cole’s start is 28 October from La Coruna in northwest Spain, tucked in just to the east of Cape Finisterre and home to the Pillars of Hercules. The amount of planning and preparation one needs to even think about for this kind of sailing is close to mind boggling.
Imagine, if you will, going to the market and shopping for 150 days. Straight. From this thought flows the rest of the food issues: What are you going to stow it all in? (drybags with a couple weeks’ worth at a time, per bag). What’s it going to be? A month of beef stew would get pretty boring (Cf. Sopranino). Ice cream for dessert or landmark events? Hmmm…
During my visits to Cole at Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard, I was looking at kit sorted by category over a space about 80 by 20 feet in one of the sheds. I pointed to the drybags and asked what was in them.
Food, replied Brendan Scanlon, Cole’s Project Manager for this Great Adventure. I asked about the projected calorie count. About 1,500 per meal, I was told – 4,500 per day. I’m always curious about such trivia because as a grinder/sewer man in a 12 Metre in the AC we went through about 10,000 calories a day. On the other hand, Cole is about 5’2” and just broken through 100 pounds. She’s been going to the gym, Brendan remarked. Boxes of medical kit, a dozen extra fuel canisters for the Jetboil stove. Hundreds of yards of spare cordage, already fabricated into the appropriate line. Winch parts, spare blocks, a complete set of instruments from CPU to wind wand, all loaded into a customized Pelican box to be lashed down under the aft deck. Autopilot rams, engine spares, electrical spares, tools. How does one begin to assess the need for which tools to bring? I doubt if anyone reading this can accurately list what’s in their own boat toolbox. I cannot. It’s “just the stuff I’ll need” including ten rusted hacksaw blades, two sets of the same size sockets, and rusty pliers.
Looking at all this planning, I’m convinced that the business side of such adventures is more…well, equally important as the sailing side. Contemplate for a moment the various and different “departments” on a race boat, or even a cruising boat. Any boat bound to sea for a longish time, say more than three or four weeks needs to contemplate all the following in great detail (though Class40s do not have fridges or freezers, eliminating two categories of spares and specialized tools).
Cordage, (including a splicing kit) winches, winch handles, spare autopilot remote control fobs, engine spares and tools, fuel, electrical, including in Cole’s case a media kit, cameras and the software to get the images off the boat, computer and satellite parts, cables and manuals, spares for the watermaker, food, cooking, spares for the Watt&Sea hydrogenerator, a custom kit including sealant to deal with leaks in the water ballast tanks, emergency hull repair, bilge pump spares (the rubber flange is always a good candidate to fail), a broken mast kit, drifts, cutters, perhaps a battery operated grinder, (with charger and a spare battery probably), a broken rudder kit, firefighting gear including extinguishers and fire blanket (I’m told the biggest cause of fire on sailboats is electrical/batteries), liferaft, EPIRB (Cole has two of each), an abandon ship bag, and a medical kit. Cole has undertaken first person First Aid training, including practicing injecting herself with a needle.
Sail repair kit, specialized glue in tubes (needle and thread is not the go today with composite sails) a thinning, cleaning agent (alcohol, acetone or similar; the damaged part must be clean and dry before gluing the patch on), spare battens, parts for the luff track system, spare cars, 10 mm studs for the box to slider attachment, spares for the tiny screws on the batten boxes, clothes including technical shirts, socks (cotton for the tropics, wooly for the high latitudes), light, medium and heavy fleecy pants and tops, foul weather gear (two sets?), personal hygiene kit (how much sunscreen, toothpaste and dental floss must you bring for 150 days at sea?).
Cooking kit (how many and what size pots and pans?…though generally speaking all cooking on such boats on such a passage is with a Jetboil [a stove and kettle in one] and freeze-dried food). A second Jetboil? What to bring in the vitamins department (watermaker yielding no such niceties)? Do you bring a spare (screw onto the top) kettle? How many coffee mugs? You’d hate to drop overboard the only one on board, eh?
Spoons, knives, forks? Condiments, dish soap, body soap, paper towels? Glasses or sunglasses (how many spare pairs?), books or other media to take yer mind off the 55 knots of breeze whizzing around your ears. A sextant and related books? A paper log, ore merely a 2 lb. bag of HH GPS units. How many AA batteries, or do you bring rechargeable batteries, so how many cigarette outlets on the chart table wall? A spare computer? Since so much of the boat runs through a computer, (weather, performance info review, comms on/off the boat, media off the boat), almost certainly two, maybe three identical ones with all identical software and apps running, So two or three power cords…
Where and how do you inventory, store and secure all this in the boat, in a way that makes it less of a 45-minute Pilates and weightlifting class to stack after each tack, so you can find just the right sized small screwdriver when you need it, in under 15 minutes?
No, people undertaking such adventures as these are very buttoned up, considering and allocating all the items above, and likely many more, to categories, inventorying all the micro parts, allocating them durable, waterproof storage, and figuring out where that storage will be.
I can advise from personal experience that the skipper is much better off NOT doing the bulk of this and focusing on the sailing part of the adventure. One of the reasons, in the deck of many why I returned from my passage to France for the Mini Transat in 1995 was I was not remotely close to the level of Cole’s organization, thanks to her team. I certainly had a few helpers and Jill, but nothing like what Cole is benefiting from. She, on the other hand, has a lot more sponsorship proportionally than I did.
The shore crew number about a dozen souls. Brendan, the manager. Two rigging guys, Colby from Gorilla Rigging and Dave White, one of the more experienced rigging and boat guys one could possibly meet, as overseer of the rig, rigging and sails. A dedicated media guy, Sam. A dedicated electronics AND electrics guy Duncan (sun panels, Watt&Sea, batteries, charging procedures and kit). Remember, Joe Harris had to abort his voyage a few years ago because the Watt&Sea controller malfunctioned, almost causing a fire. Chelsea (weather routing and consultant all things meteo).
After Cole departed Newport on 19 September, this entire road show flew to Spain, complete with three large boxes of spare spars to deal with any issues on the 2-week trip to the start. No, long gone are the days of loading a few cans of beans, some fishing kit and a water catchment rig to sail around the world. To Cole, I say Bon Courage girl. Obviously the dream to circumnavigate is alive and well.
Keep up with this Great Adventure on Cole’s social media, and keep an eye on the Ship’s Log at windcheckmagazine.com for these links. I will be posting dedicated Cooper Comments there. ■
* From the Banjo Patterson poem Clancy of the Overflow, found on the Australian Culture (yes, there is such a thing) website