SAILING FOR PURISTS
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