Skip to comments.Duo planning 1,000 days alone at sea
Posted on 04/21/2007 11:50:52 AM PDT by Abathar
HOBOKEN, N.J. - He's a veteran of long-distance sailing voyages in all kinds of weather. She's never sailed outside the Hudson River.
But together, 55-year-old Reid Stowe and his 23-year-old girlfriend, Soanya Ahmad, are embarking on a voyage that they intend to take them three times around the globe and last 1,000 days and nights nonstop, with no port calls for supplies or a walk on solid ground.
They were ready to set sail Saturday aboard his 70-foot, two-masted schooner, named the Schooner Anne, from a Hudson River marina in North Hoboken.
"This will be my first time sailing ever except for up and down the Hudson River," said Ahmad, the New York-raised daughter of immigrants from Guyana.
"I haven't gotten seasick so far," she said with a grin.
She may be tested when the yacht rounds South America's Cape Horn on the way from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, an area infamous for waves as high as 100 feet, as well as icebergs.
If they succeed, they say their time away from land will surpass the 657 days spent at sea by Australian Jon Sanders, who circumnavigated the globe three times from 1986 to 1988.
Stowe planned a course that initially will take them into the north Atlantic to take advantage of wind and currents, then head south of the Equator. Past the Equator, before passing Cape Horn, he mapped out a course that would loop around the south Atlantic, in the outline of a heart.
"This is a voyage that takes heart," he said.
Provisions were packed into every nook and cranny of the schooner's hull, everything from rice and beans to tomato sauce, pasta, pesto, olives, chocolate, spices and about 200 pounds of parmesan cheese. Sprouts were already growing in boxes for salads.
The rest of their food will be caught fresh from the sea automatically. Two contraptions at the stern will troll for fish, and when one is caught the line is rigged to alert them by tapping a piece of wood.
Rainwater will be collected in tarps stretched over the deck, and a desalinator will turn sea water into drinking water.
Crammed in alongside the food was a ton of coal and 100 boxes of firewood for the antique French iron stove that keep them warm, plus diesel oil for a motor.
Solar panels will generate enough electricity for the satellite communication and navigation system and for lights. Along with sending and receiving e-mail via satellite, they expect to post photographs, videos and blogs on their Web site.
They also have a small library of books on yoga, meditation and spirituality, as well as art and history, plus the collected works of Joseph Conrad and every book written by Herman Melville, including "Moby Dick."
Along with a well-stocked medical kit, they both learned how to clean and stitch cuts and to set broken bones.
The cost of the journey is covered by corporate and individual donations, plus donations of food, the sails and marine ropes.
Their message to the world, they say, is that any human being can persevere and survive while staying inspired and in love.
"It's inside everyone to go into the unknown, to sail by the sun and the winds of fate. Our ability to control our minds will allow us to do this," said Stowe"If we had to come back for cheeseburgers, we wouldn't be able to do it."
They met four years ago when Ahmad, a college student, was photographing Manhattan's waterfront where the schooner was docked.
"He invited me aboard. It was my first time on a sailboat," said Ahmad. "Reid was looking for someone to go with him. At first, I said no, but then ..."
Her parents, both New York accountants, "are a little terrified," said their only daughter, the oldest of three siblings.
The voyage is formally called "1000 Days at Sea: The Mars Ocean Odyssey," since Stowe compares it to an expedition to Mars, which would involve about the same time in isolation.
He has sailed to every continent in the past four decades, including Antarctica. "I have the tools, I have the experience," he said.
One of those previous voyages was a 200-day trip with his wife in 1999. They're divorced now, but she gave him and Ahmad a life raft for their journey, and planned to be on the dock to wave goodbye Saturday.
Stowe said the journey offers lessons even to someone who will never go out to sea or someone like Ahmad, who grew up in New York City: "You learn to be present to the situation, to look and see what's happening, and to do what needs to be done."
Adds Ahmad: "On a sailboat, you have to be present in the moment, in the now. Or there's no tomorrow."
No beer?? Bon voyage, guys.
A good friend of mine offer some advice on buying a nice sailboat (pre-internet)
Go to Panama he said. Most of the couples never make it thru the canal. The wife is tired or sick of the small boat, or no kids/grandkids/no shopping/bad food/storms/no mail or telephone and so on.
And she gets on the first thing smoking headed North. Dad can’t continue on his own as the boat is too big - so they sale at a loss.
OTOH, many have done this quite successfully - Jim and Molly Moore, Kellogg and Diana Fleming, Suzanne & Jim Macfarlan (and family), Paul Howard and Fiona McCall, Alvah & Diana Simon ( a year frozen in the Arctic ice), and on and on.
http://www.cruisingworld.com/index.jsp has many of the stories and is a good magazine, lots of recipes great for RVs.
What a cool idea - I wonder where the RV’s get sold?
An amazing stock of birth control pills, condoms , TP and sanitary napkins will leave no room for anything else.../sarc
apologies to Hemingway
It could happen. The guy *is* old enough to be her dad. Or not.
Good call! I give the boat 4 months. I hope it’s not wood frame.
I’m sure he won’t be able to stand up after 1,000 days of that... Not at his age.
I am very envious!
a) the boat
The Schooner Anne, which was named for Reid’s mother, was designed by Stowe to be the ultimate long distance & heavy weather vessel. The Anne, hand built by Reid and his family in their backyard in North Carolina in 1978, has been Stowe’s home and expedition platform for over 27 years of exciting voyages.
The Anne has proven her seaworthiness on exciting voyages in the Caribbean, around Cape Horn, in Antarctica , for 100 days out of sight of land in the North Atlantic, the 200 day Odyssey of the Sea Turtle, and on the Voyage of the Argonauts, where she survived a knockdown by a 60-ft. rogue wave. Written and photographic accounts of many of these voyages are available on the website www.1000days.net.
b) the chick
Has lived abourd the boat for a year already as prep for the long voyage.
The boat wesite
Good luck to them, they seem to have prepared and have good comms in case something does go South.
Wormholes, dontcha know?
In my own ignorant opinion these two people, especially him, aren’t showing enough respect for the most powerful and terrifying element on the earth.
Quit reading things into the article.
As I indicated, I did not see the concern expressed about the relationship, and I used the word “apparently”. I hardly call that “reading things into the article”.
I just sent this to my son, who is in final training for his crew aboard S/V Lucky, preparing to sail their self-built (teak/oak/mahogany) 72-foot schooner from Khao Lak Thailand to Georgetown, SC via the IO, Cape of Goos Hope, and across the Atlantic. He’s got a crew of 10, with a goodly amount of experience at sea. He’s been over in Phu Ket since the Tsunami, building fishing boats (10-meter “Longtails”) for the fishermen who got wiped out in the Tsunami.
And the life insurance. Evil cackles.
Just let me handle the navigation and the 1000 days will take care of itself.
"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest! Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum!! Drink and the Devil had done for the rest! Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum!"
Old Long John looks a happy camper.
Sure the sea can be dangerous but 55 and 23?
Reminds me of an old joke:
Doctor: At your age don’t you realize how dangerous that can be?
Old man: If she dies, she dies.
Bananas vey VEY bad luck.
No Bananas on my boat.
The Eric Clapton-looking guy isn’t the sailor, I don’t think. Captain Queeg is a scurvy-skinny, dweebish British-looking cat. Good luck to them. Not everyone can push the boundaries of mundane existence.
Here is their website with photos:
Nope, others are largely paying for it with donations of goods and services.
I hope she made sure his will was up to date before leaving.
Oprah had a show about a couple who went on a cruise to get to know each other better. Some disaster happened. They floated on a piece of wood the size of a ritz cracker for days and he went crazy and just swam off to suicide one day. Ultimately she was rescued and told the story. It was a big deal at the time.
The second picture, the one where he has hair and looks 10 years younger may have been taken at the beginning of the relationship. She looks the same.
Poor b**tard :), he won't make it to Europe at this rate.
I agree, he does seem to know what he is doing.
On a separate note, though I am reminded of a story I read about General George S. Patton, who when transferred to Hawaii, loaded his family onto a small boat (40 feet or so I think) and sailed from San Diego to Hawaii. He taught himself to sail on the way.
> a two man crew going out like this is foolish...
Tis a dream of many a sailor. May she learn the sea quickly.
If her parents do disapprove of the relationship, I don’t think the girl is going let the press in on that detail.
Sailed right up to Hoover Dam and back out.
Someone later told me that was nutz.... I guess the Lord does protect fools.
Anyway the boat from your story is for sale.
WHEN AND IF is an Alden designed schooner, built by FF Pendleton in Wiscasset, Maine for Colonel and Mrs. George S. Patton. She was launched in 1939 and the Pattons planned to sail her around the world "when and if" Patton returned from the war that he saw looming in Europe.
Patton, by then a General, was killed in a freak accident shortly after the end of the war and WHEN AND IF was sailed by Mrs. Patton for some years. Mrs. Patton gave the schooner to her brother Frederick Ayer, who sailed her along the New England Coast, eventually donating her to the Landmark School for use in their Watermark Program for dyslexic kids - Patton himself was dyslexic.
In 1990 she was wrecked north of Boston. Subsequent owners had her rebuilt by Gannon & Benjamin Boatyard in Vineyard Haven, MA. Recently purchased by a family from New Jersey she has been refitted during the winter of 2005 -2006 and is in immaculate condition.
She is a superbly seaworthy and comfortable vessel with long keel, gaff foresail and Marconi main. Measuring 63' 5" x 47' 3" x 15' 1" x 9', plus bowsprit and boomkin, she displaces 43 tons and carries about 1700 square feet of sail area. WHEN AND IF has wide decks, a large cockpit, high bulwarks, and a doghouse in addition to her commodious accommodations.
WHEN AND IF is Coast Guard licensed and inspected to carry 17 guests and 3 crew on near shore routes during day light hours.
From Time magazine, April 12, 1943 "He had always done things the hard way, and the spectacular. When he was ordered to Hawaii, he bought a 40-foot sailboat, boned up on navigation, and sailed out. He still has a sailboat tied up against future leisurethe When and If, it is called."
The Nation lost a lost when he died.
Wow! Thanks. I would love to buy it, WHEN and IF I could afford it!
If her parents do disapprove of the relationship, I dont think the girl is going let the press in on that detail.
I just wish these young women would start demanding more respect from men instead of just hopping in the sack.
Is she for it or a'gin it?
I would guess that it's an older picture. I would like to always look like I do in my older pictures.
Unfortunately, we should assume that the photo of the man who is now balding and not as good looking is the more recent photo of the 55 year old. Especially since the man in your photo doesn't look to be over 40.
I would guess that the Captain looks more like my photo than yours, but I could be wrong.
It doesn't matter, he's about to spend 3 years with a nice looking gal and he appears to be a happy fellow.
Whichever picture is accurate, I wish them both smooth sailing.
Or one missed menstrual cycle - whichever comes first.
From what I have read about Stowe/Ahmad, spiritually the couple may have a chance. But I would never, ever attempt a voyage of this magnitude with a greenhorn. In an emergency, any emergency, a new hand is going to be completely worthless. And there will be emergencies.
Sounds like Stowe is having a midlife crisis ... the kind where a guy goes out and buys a Corvette. There aren't very many records to break, so this may be his chance. [/very opinionated opinion]
See my post 61.
Just checking in ... have they returned to port yet?
I had to chuckle at that, she has already got sea sick once during a little blow, complaining about the lose stuff bouncing around the cabin. If we start a pool my bet is >180 days tops.
I've done a fair amount of sailing in my time and there is NO way I would take a new hand. [/ shaking head in disbelief]
selfping for later
It's kinda hard to hit the sack together and still keep someone on watch. Too damn funny.
You can’t see it in that pic, but I’m betting there is a pony tail on the back of the Sailor man’s head.
I’m just sayin’...
There still ain’t no substitute for a set of eyes.