Nearing the Start Line-Anticipation Mounts

The send-off from St. Augustine was incredible and it is hard not to be affected.

The send-off from St. Augustine was incredible and it is hard not to be affected. The escort was by the Coast Guard, police and the yacht club, while Billy Black, renowned yacht photojournalist, weaved in and out of the traffic. It was quite something. A loyal crowd on the dock and more on the bridge. Makes me really humble. Now approaching the real start line on the existing record, I do not expect much attention and my focus will be on safely rounding the shoals and reefs north of Bermuda, and crossing the line due east and within one mile of St. David's Light, where Dodge Morgan, on his yacht American Promise, began his 150 day, 6 hour and 1 minute odyssey. I shall begin mine on Kiwi Spirit.

The first person to sail solo non-stop and non-assisted was Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, who did it in 313 days. He is incidentally still alive and is younger than me! Oh well, perhaps I am a late starter. He wrote in a recent editorial that of all would be solo circumnavigators, non-stop and non-assisted ones are less than 50% likely to make it and that less than 100 have made it so far. Some 600 have been into space and more than 100 have climbed Mt. Everest each year. These are, of course, just numbers, but then again I was very proud in 1985 to have finished 946th out of 1,200 in the Kona Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 miles on a bike and the full 26.2 marathon run) and then the following year I swam the English Channel twice, and on the second swim I became only the 300th to have done so. --S.P.