DVD Review: Around Alone

In 1983, Dodge Morgan, then 53, sold his electronics company and made a promise to himself: he would sail around the world, alone, without stopping. He hoped to complete the 27,459-nautical-mile voyage onboard his 60-foot cutter, American Promise, in 220 days. That would require him to sail 100 miles a day at an average speed of 6.25 knots. As Morgan boarded American Promise in
Author:
Updated:
Original:
3_Sally_a-Reilley

In 1983, Dodge Morgan, then 53, sold his electronics company and made a promise to himself: he would sail around the world, alone, without stopping. He hoped to complete the 27,459-nautical-mile voyage onboard his 60-foot cutter, American Promise, in 220 days. That would require him to sail 100 miles a day at an average speed of 6.25 knots. As Morgan boarded American Promise in Bermuda, dressed in a tuxedo and red suspenders, his weather router Bob Rice reported, “I don’t think you’ll run into a terribly large problem of being becalmed.” But even experienced weather routers can blow a call or two.

Some say a picture is worth a thousand words, but after watching filmmaker Chris Knight’s Around Alone, you’ll believe that a film—at least, this film—is worth a thousand photos. Around Alone has a you-are-there-ness that neither written words nor photos can match. Chris Knight, a lifelong cruising sailor, was, as Morgan wrote, “ideally suited to the challenge of filming my voyage...He idiot-proofed the cameras and supervised the installation of a smart—and very durable, it turned out—electrical circuit to control their operations.”


On board American Promise, Knight installed six Super 8 sound cameras in waterproof canisters that automatically filmed at preset intervals. Three were programmed to expose 30 seconds of film every four hours if there was enough light, and to expose film if the boat was knocked down to more than a 45-degree angle. In all, Morgan exposed some nine hours of film during the voyage, an average of three minutes a day.

Around Alone follows Morgan throughout his journey, beginning with the construction of American Promise with designer Ted Hood and continuing on to sea. There, the cameras become Morgan’s confidant, and he is a good off-the-cuff commentator.

There are moments of greatness: on Day 48, a deep low in the southern Indian Ocean creates 40-to-50-foot chaotic seas and Morgan tells the camera, “It’s one-on-one chaos, so let’s see who holds out. I may not be able to get through this day, but I can get through the next hour.”

1_Sally-A.-Reiley

There are moments of humility, like his 1986 New Year’s resolutions: “I won’t covet my neighbor’s wife; I won’t argue with my boss; I won’t stray very far from home, since this is home.”

And there are moments of tribulation. By Day 91, American Promise had been becalmed in the “Roaring 40s” for a week. Being becalmed, says Morgan, is the most difficult condition in a sailboat. “It is devastating, and I don’t know what to do. Nothing can be done. It’s all grim determination.” He finds himself wishing the journey would end, and with 10,000 miles to go, he feels close to the edge.

But on Day 109, he sees the coast of Chile. He’s gone 18,500 miles, and he’s reached the ultimate sailor’s landfall. He celebrates with two bottles of beer—one for the boat and another for Cape Horn—and declares, “Now we’re going home! What a sight, what a sight.”

American Promise arrived back in Bermuda on April 11, 1986, after a voyage of 27,500 miles over 150 days, 1 hour, 6 minutes—the fastest at that time for a singlehander. On September 14, 2010, Dodge Morgan died at the age of 78. American Promise was donated to the U.S. Naval Academy for its offshore sail-training program. She now serves as mothership for the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean.

This summer, the Maine Maritime Museum will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Maine sailor Dodge Morgan’s record-breaking solo circumnagivation on Sunday, August 21 at Portland Yacht Services in Portland, Maine. For more information, visit http://dodgemorgancommemoration2011-eorg.eventbrite.com/


Around Alone (57 minutes)

Produced by The New Film Company, Inc. www.newfilmco.com

$29.95

Related

QuarterdeckBuildingWatercolor

Bitter End Yacht Club 2.0

Amid the widespread devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria when they swept across the northern Caribbean in September 2017, the destruction of the iconic Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands was particularly keenly felt by sailors. The ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The back door Satisfied with your headsails? So was I, until one day I took a long, hard look up the luff of my genoa, making sure I inspected the leeward side as well. The sail had plenty of life ...read more

02-Lydia12-01

Losing Sight of Shore

I arrived on the docks of Beaufort, North Carolina, in late April with two backpacks filled with new gear—everything I’d need for my first offshore passage. Though I’d been sailing for 16 years, graduating from dinghies to keelboats to a J/122, I’d spent my time racing and, in ...read more

Squall

The Face of a Squall

They are the worst of times, they are the best of times There’s a fabulous line from an old Paul Simon song that I often sing to myself while sailing: I can gather all the news I need from the weather report. It is part of the magic of sailing, this ancient process by which we ...read more

ntcktshtrstk

Cruising Southern New England Waters

One of the most wonderful childhood vacations I can remember was back in 1971 when my best friend invited me to his family’s summer home on Nantucket Island. For a 10-year-old kid, this was a thrilling trip for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact it was also my ...read more

IMG_8287GR16Mykonos

Cultural Charters: Mykonos

In last month’s column, I covered the amazing mix of cultures that have called the Dalmatian Coast home over the centuries. Croatia cruising is like a smorgasbord of intertwined centuries, and the islands are a movie set. A little farther south, though, you’ve also got Greece, ...read more

cookinglead

Cruising: No Oven? No Worries

Many cruising boats, especially smaller ones, don’t have a conventional oven. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have all the baked foods you want, from bread to brownies to breakfast rolls to casseroles and even a roast chicken. All it takes is the right bit of gear and a ...read more