Un­spon­sored and un­fussed, a Michi­gan sailor cir­cum­nav­i­gates on the quiet. Peter Nielsen caught up with him

SAIL - - Contents -

An odd boat brings a dire mes­sage, a quiet cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion and more from the com­mu­nity

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.

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 ac­c­com­plished 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 han­kon 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.

The West­sail 32 has some­thing of a cult boat among the blue­wa­ter fra­ter­nity. The lines come from the Norwegian Colin Archer lifeboats of the 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.

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 Jer­ho­ s

Jeromne Rand sets off from Glouces­ter, Mas­sachusetts in Oc­to­ber 2017

The West­sail 32 proved a ro­bust plat­form for the epic voy­age

Rand lands in Glouces­ter and takes his first steps on a solid sur­face in nine months

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