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The Blue Planet Odyssey: Around the World with a Purpose

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Jimmy Cornell has sailed around the world five times, always aiming his sights on the bigger picture: understanding the world as a single community in which one person’s actions impact all.

So when Cornell began envisioning the upcoming Blue Planet Odyssey, which sets sail from London on July 20, 2014, he says he wanted to find a way to better to connect the sailors taking part with people in the parts of the world they’d be visiting.

Cornell says he also wants to increase awareness of how these people and places are being impacted by the increasingly noticeable effects of climate change.

"The Blue Planet Odyssey project could not have been launched at a more opportune moment as it coincided with a spate of natural disasters that have affected several parts of the world," Cornell says. To name a few: record flooding in the UK, prolonged droughts in Africa, and Hurricane Sandy's effects felt from Haiti to New England.

“With the large-scale devastation these disasters have caused, public opinion (and public policy) about climate change has shifted. People are realizing that it can "no longer be denied," Cornell says.

During the Blue Planet Odyssey's three-year span, Cornell hopes to draw attention to two specific effects of climate change: the melting of the Arctic icecap and loss of land in low-lying Pacific islands due to rising sea levels. With this in mind, among Blue Planet Odyssey's routes and detours is an optional transit of the Northwest Passage, which has only recently been deemed safe to sail through thanks to the effects of climate change. The rally will also make stops at a number of islands, like Tuvalu and The Maldives, where land mass is being lost to rising sea levels.

The main southern route—which is expected to be the more popular choice—will follow the normal trade wind path around the world, with starts at cities on all the continents other than Antarctica and many islands. See the route map here.

Blue Planet Odyssey will also include an optional visit to Easter Island, which Cornell says he chose as a fascinating alternative, while several return routes are planned once the fleet has reached Gibraltar in 2016. The rally is scheduled to finish up in London in July 2017.

Throughout Cornell’s almost 40-year career, his round-the-world cruising has grown into more than just a childhood dream fulfilled.

"Be part of a great adventure and grasp this opportunity to do it before it is too late," Cornell says, urging those involved with BPO to fulfill their sailing dreams while simultaneously seizing this opportunity to be part of a meaningful global project.

Drawing from past experience and a flawless track record, Cornell assures that the Blue Planet Odyssey—which kicks off 40 years to the day after the start of his first voyage, Aventura, in 1974—will run just as smoothly as his past five circumnavigations and 20 trans-Atlantic trips. Cornell's past voyages, like the 1998-2000 Millennium odyssey, carried similar messages about the oceans as a "heritage for the future."

With a little over a year to go before the London start, Cornell and the rest of the BPO team are already busy laying the groundwork for the event. Preparations will really pick up in the winter of 2013-14 when organizers hold a number of seminars to address such topics as the logistics of a long voyage and emergency and communication procedures.

For more on the rally, visit blueplanetodyssey.com.

Photos courtesy of Cornell Sailing

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