Skip to main content

Around Three Continents

Randall Reeves aboard Moli, ex-Gjoa, ex-Taonui, ex-Asma, during an early shakedown passage

Randall Reeves aboard Moli, ex-Gjoa, ex-Taonui, ex-Asma, during an early shakedown passage

I first became acquainted with Randall Reeves when he contacted me via email some time back, seeking boat-buying advice. I often get queries like this, so I didn’t think much of it at the time, though I was pleased that he, like me, favored aluminum as a hull material. I suppose the fact that he was most interested in plate thickness and hull scantlings should have tipped me off that he was up to something unusual.

The 41ft full-keeled boat that Randall ended up buying, which I had admired for many years, is quite unique and rugged. Built in aluminum by Dubbel & Jesse in Norderney, Germany, in 1989, the boat’s first owner, a German sailor/journalist named Clark Stede, christened her Asma and with filmmaker Michelle Poncini sailed her on a first-ever voyage around both North and South America in 1990-93. In 1994 Stede sold the boat to Tony and Coryn Gooch, who renamed her Taonui and cruised her together, mostly in high latitudes, for a number of years before Tony set out in 2002 on another first-ever voyage—a nonstop solo circumnavigation via the Southern Ocean, starting from and returning to the west coast of North America. The boat’s next owners, Glenn and Ann Bainbridge (they named her Gjoa), never partook of a first-ever voyage, but they weren’t exactly slouches and did notch up a two-year transit of the Northwest Passage.

Randall bought the boat in early 2016 from the Bainbridges and has worked incessantly preparing her for yet another first-ever voyage that, interestingly, is essentially the sum of her first two first-ever voyages. This will be a one-year solo double circumnavigation around both of the Americas and Antarctica, including a Northwest Passage transit combined with a Southern Ocean circumnavigation, that Randall calls the Figure 8 Voyage. The boat itself he now calls Moli, which is the native Hawaiian name for the Laysan albatross.

The challenges posed by Randall’s venture are, like his boat, rather unique. First, on its face, it combines into one single voyage what most would consider the two most challenging voyages a modern solo sailor can make. Fewer than 150 solo sailors have completed circumnavigations via the Southern Ocean; only three have braved the Northwest Passage. In addition to the problems posed by the individual voyages, there is another set posed by the combination of the two. Randall’s route will take him through all of the world’s oceans, the Arctic Circle, close to the Antarctic Circle and will take him twice around Cape Horn. And to make it all work he has to complete his circumnavigation of Antarctica and his two transits of the Horn as close to the heart of the southern summer as he can manage, and then must appear in further reaches of the Northern Hemisphere in time to take advantage of the very narrow summer window through which yachts might transit the Northwest Passage, typically little more than a month, from early August to mid-September.

As I write this in mid-October 2017 Randall is poised to strike out from his home port in San Francisco, having been momentarily delayed by a problem with his prop shaft log. By the time you read this he will, hopefully, have just rounded Cape Horn for the first time. Given the importance of timing to his success, he has carefully worked out a spreadsheet of transit distances and times. He expects his fastest time might be about 10 months over a distance of almost 36,000 miles, and his slowest could be about 12 months over a distance of a little over 45,000 miles. He has tried to anticipate every contingency, but of course, on a voyage like this, there is a good chance some unforeseen emergency might arise.

Fortunately for sailors like you and me who are forced into their armchairs during the dead of the northern winter, Randall has cobbled together enough sponsorship to afford a full suite of modern communications and will be regularly posting updates on his adventure, complete with photos and video. You can follow him online at figure8voyage.com

January 2018

Related

Video: Celestial Navigation Pt3

. In episode three of the Practical Celestial Navigation course, Andy Howe examines the theory behind celestial navigation, the celestial triangle and the celestial sphere, and why it is important to have a basic understanding of each. Topics introduced include zenith position, ...read more

01-LEAD-6.-After-2-years-ashore,-Nada-headsto-the-water-(3)

Sailing in the Time of Covid

In mid-August 2019, my wife, Terrie, and I laid up our Malö 46, Nada, in Falmouth, England, and flew home to Maine. We booked flights back to the UK for May 2020, anticipating a summer of cruising the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Then Covid struck. Remember that first ...read more

Ulysse Nardin promo photo

The Ocean Race Names Official Timekeeper

With just under one year before the start of The 2022-23 Ocean Race, Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin has been named the official timekeeper of the race. The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race, announced ...read more

Arthur Daniel_RORC Maserati - RORC Transatlantic 2022 - Jan 15th -Social Media-4

Fast Finishes for the RORC Leaders

Over the weekend, the first finishers of the 2022 RORC Transat made landfall in Grenada, led by Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati, which was awarded line honors with a corrected time of six days, 18 hours and 51 minutes. Maserati finished ahead of Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 ...read more

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more