Powered By Sail

03/31/2011 03:39 pm ET | Updated May 31, 2011


Perched like an ocean bird on the bow of my schooner sailing on the wild seas, I ponder the wonder of life. I feel like an ancient and timeless spirit. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that a certain amount of modern technology made our three years non-stop voyage possible. Take the sails for example. I think traditional canvas sails would have been too heavy for one man to manage and way too much work for one man to keep under repair. I now have more ideas of how to make sails last a little longer at sea, but my sail-makers at Doyle Sails here in NYC did a great job designing, making and supplying us with sails for the voyage. Although I had to start repairing them fairly early on in the voyage, the sails had already seen seven years of sailing, some of the time in stormy weather. I sailed with these sails until they were really worn out, but in their defense, let's look at some numbers.

I put an estimated 20,000 hours of sea time on my sails after they were already seven years old. An average boat might take 20 day sails. At eight hours a day that's 160 hours. Then add 480 hours for a Bermuda race every year for three years and add the days together and you get almost 2,000 hours on your sails. Sails need a little repair every year and they get blown out losing their competitive edge making it time for a new set of sails. That will show you how well made my sails were and the amount of repair I had to do was not outrageous. Any sailor will tell you that your sails will wear out much faster at sea because of the movement of the boat in the waves and that one mistake can damage the sail overnight.

I learned to love my sails and repair them because I knew they were my ticket to freedom. Day after day, they drove me across the seas or held me steady in the relentless waves. I spent many hours perched in different locations viewing my sails from all angles and running my focused vision along every seam and stitch. Inevitably, they took me beyond the known to my home on the eternal seas.