The Long Distance Sailor

In 1979, when I purchased Trifid, my 26-foot Folkboat, in Palm Beach, FL, the previous owner handed me a quote that he had handwritten on a small piece of paper. That piece of paper disappeared until I found it recently. After rereading it, I decided I wanted to share this with others who might find it well worth reading. Along with this quote, I was given a book, The Impossible Voyage, written by Chay Blyth. In 1971, aboard a 59-foot ketch named British Steel, Chay Blyth became the first person to sail non-stop around the world going westward—against the prevailing winds and currents, going to windward the entire trip. The quote below was taken from that book (I highly recommend all sailors read this remarkable story as told in Blyth’s book):


“Whenever someone, usually standing on a jetty in the pleasant morning sunshine, looks down into my cockpit, and, after greetings and gossip about this and that, says that he envies me because I don’t have any cares or worries and can just take off into the setting sun without a problem in the world, I always smile to myself. What does this person know of the intricate preparation, the minute attention to the smallest details that goes into getting a small craft ready for the ocean? Overlooking even one significant point could very well result in disaster or even death. What does that person know of that careful, cautious attention paid to storing the boat with every possible item for any foreseeable accident or occurrence? What does he know of studying how to take out one’s own teeth, or, if necessary, one’s own appendix? The long-distance sailor is his own lawyer, doctor, engineer, plumber, carpenter, dentist and diplomat.”