SAIL­ING FOR PURISTS

Yachting Monthly - - VIEW FROM THE HELM -

Through­out the ages, her­mits, mys­tics and philoso­phers have sought iso­la­tion and si­lence. Of­ten, their pil­grim­ages would take them to places of aus­tere beauty and phys­i­cal hard­ship; a cliff­side cave or a white­washed cell. The as­cetic ex­is­tence stripped away phys­i­cal dis­trac­tions from a pu­rity of mind and soul.

In stark con­trast to the cur­rent trend for ev­er­larger, more com­fort­able and more tech­no­log­i­cally in­te­grated boats, off­shore sailor Roger Tay­lor es­chews all of these on his Arc­tic voy­ages (p19). Sail­ing a spar­tan, largely home-built junk-rigged Achilles 24, Ming­ming II, he sets sail from Scot­land and heads due north, where he will spend 60 or 70 days alone at sea, non-stop.

His ex­plo­rations have in­cluded Green­land, Spits­ber­gen, and most re­cently he sailed into un­charted wa­ters above 80ºn, where re­ced­ing ice has only just made it pos­si­ble to sail at all. His nav­i­ga­tion equip­ment is a com­pass, a hand-held GPS, and a chart of al­most en­tirely empty space. Such is his de­sire for a pure sail­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that he does not stop, does not set foot on land, and although an ac­com­plished mu­si­cian, takes no mu­sic with him to in­ter­pose between him and the sea. In­stead, he thinks, and writes – su­perbly; a philoso­pher sailor.

In our vir­tu­ally con­nected world, he proves it’s pos­si­ble to switch off the ma­chines and re­con­nect with be­ing fully hu­man. He is not so much anti es­tab­lish­ment as tran­scen­dent above it. I may be un­likely to ever fol­low pre­cisely in his wake, but I find his ap­proach to ‘cruis­ing’ in­spir­ing. It is a re­minder to dis­con­nect from shore-side dis­trac­tions and to dare to get off the beaten track, even just a lit­tle way.

Theo Stocker Yacht­ing Monthly Ed­i­tor

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