Skip to main content

A Michigan sailor Circumnavigates on the Quiet

00020021-2

Some of the greatest sailing voyages are those that are undertaken quietly, without publicity and for no reason other than that they are there to be accomplished. One such ended in June when Jerome Rand sailed his Westsail 32, Mighty Sparrow, into the New England port of Gloucester to a rousing welcome from a small band of friends and family. Sporting an impressive set of whiskers grown en route, the Petosky, Michigan native made no secret of his happiness to be ashore once again.

00020028

Rand’s wobbly steps onto the Gloucester dock were his first on a stable surface in 271 days. Since leaving Gloucester on October 3 last year he had sailed 29,807 miles, nonstop and alone. His journey took him south of the five southernmost capes—Chile’s Cape Horn, South Africa’s Cape Agulhas, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin and South East Cape, and New Zealand’s South Cape—and through the chilly, gale-lashed waters of the Southern and Indian oceans.

Rand’s feat was all the more impressive for having been accomplished with no fanfare, no calls for sponsorship and very little in the way of modern conveniences. He saved up to buy the Westsail while working as head watersports instructor at the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI, and spent most of 2017 working on her in a Maine boatyard with the help of his father and brothers to prepare her for the wilds of the southern seas: rebedding deck fittings, replacing chainplates and strengthening the rig. He ditched the roller-furling gear in favor of hank-on sails made by his sailmaker brother Sven and bolted on an Aries windvane steering gear in place of an electronic autopilot. For navigation, he brought a sextant, tables and an elderly chartplotter, along with a VHF radio, an AIS unit and a Garmin InReach satellite messenger, all powered by a pair of solar panels.

Belowdecks, mindful of the possibility of being knocked down or rolled, Rand built a heavy-duty bank of lockers to safely contain his stores. He aimed to carry enough food to complete the voyage, but slow progress in the lighter airs he encountered midway through forced him to call in at the Falklands Islands to have more supplies brought out to him. As for water, Rand increased his tankage as much as possible and brought along a hand-operated watermaker that failed along the way, so he relied on rainwater and, sometimes, snow. Speaking of which, there was no heater on board. In the southern latitudes, with temperatures in the 40s and water often breaking over the boat, the interior streamed with condensation and Rand fought a daily battle with mildew and mold. “It was everywhere—even in my beard,” he said.

Rand’s brother Adam helped him with weather advice via the InReach, though there was no way the slow Westsail was going to emulate the Volvo Ocean Race boats that were out there at the same time and sail around the fast-developing lows of the Southern Ocean. Rand rode them out under staysail and triple-reefed mainsail, suffering two major knockdowns in the process. Each time the sturdy Westsail bobbed upright again and sailed on, a testament to the boat’s construction and design and the preparation that had gone into the voyage.

randReturning

The Westsail 32 has something of a cult boat among the bluewater fraternity. The lines come from the Norwegian Colin Archer lifeboats of the early 20th century, which were borrowed by William Atkin and translated into a 32ft double-ender in 1928. Bill Crealock, later known for his Crealock/Pacific Seacraft designs, adapted Atkin’s design for GRP construction, and the result was the Westsail 32. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili, on which he won the 1967-68 Golden Globe singlehanded race, was also built to Atkin’s design and is a close sister to the Westsail 32.

I was at the dock in Gloucester when Rand arrived and was amazed at the shape the boat was in. The sails looked nearly new and the hull was lacking the scumlines and staining that usually accompany a major voyage. A few goose barnacles at the waterline and on the rudder were about the only giveaways. A grinning Rand admitted he’d spent the preceding light-air days “sanitizing” Mighty Sparrow so that she would be ready to receive visitors.

00040008-cruising

Mighty Sparrow is now back in Rockland, Maine, and Rand is readjusting to shoreside life. SAIL will run the full story of his epic voyage in the December issue. An engaging speaker, Rand has embarked on a tour of yacht clubs to share his adventures. I guarantee it’ll be an amusing evening. You can contact him at Jerhobie@gmail.com

Photos courtesy of Jerome Rand

September 2018

Related

01-LEAD-18-Running-before-strong-winds-en-route-to-Molokai

Cruising: Hawaiian Island Hop

We didn’t get off on the right foot sailing into Hawaii. It was our own fault, of course. We should have known better. It’s never a good idea to assume that just because procedures were a certain way one year, they will be the same the next. It was an especially bad idea given ...read more

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_2056

South Pacific Storm Prep

Having set ourselves the task of transforming our recently purchased Open 66 ex-Vendée Globe racer, NV, into a performance family cruiser, my partner, Timo, and I found ourselves (extremely) high and dry as cyclone season approached. The favorite cyclone strategy in Fiji is to ...read more

00-Alexe-1---GUaGKDY4-single-boat-sailing-away-from-skyline,-Hill-Holiday

Cruising: Find Your Own Adventure

Whether they’re at the end of their collegiate career or after aging out of a summer sailing program, a lot of young sailors have a hard time finding a way to continue sailing as adults. Some of the barriers to sailing, including location, finances and time, can be hard to ...read more

00LEAD-IMG_2183

Heavy Hitters on Heavy Weather

“What’s the joke about heavy weather? You know it when you see it.” Figure 8 singlehander Randall Reeves drew laughs from the Cruising Club of America (CCA) sailors attending the forum “Heavy Weather Sailing: Bluewater Perspectives” as part of the CCA’s centennial celebration in ...read more