Speaking of racing, we’ve been following the current round-the-world Golden Globe Race, with a kind of lurid fascination. That’s the race where 14, mostly amateur, racers sail 35,000 miles around the world’s great capes, in throwback, full-keel vessels, alone and unassisted.
Some boats are from the 1960’s, but none carry modern electronics, navigation or watermakers. And the weekly satellite phone calls of these single-handers is mostly about old men struggling with broken wind vanes, getting lost trying to navigate just with sextants and getting excited about sailing 90 whole miles in a 24-hour period.
That got us to thinking: What if we explored the other direction in a “everyman’s global race.” What boating event might we craft if the participants explored new terrain on the water in older boats.
But were not expected to be tired, hungry and alone?
How about the …
The EGR2020: The Old World To Cold World and Back Race.
May we present the Everyman Global Race 2020. An event that starts — and finishes — in the heart of the old world, Istanbul, Turkey. But leaves Gibraltar, St. Petersburg, Russia and a waypoint off the coast of Gorgan, Iran — that’s the one in the Caspian Sea — to starboard.
Or said another way, racing begins off the coast of the former Constantinople, then heads out across the Mediterranean into the Atlantic, north past the Bay of Biscay, up through the English Channel into the North Sea to pass around Denmark and into the Baltic Sea to make St. Petersburg to the east. Then its rerigging for river travel, via the Unified Deep Water System of European Russia, with a stop in Moscow. And then down the mighty Volga and into the Caspian Sea, past Azerbaijan and east and south to the lovely northern coast of Iran called Gorgan. Then it is back up to Russia for another canal and river trip to the Black Sea. And west to Istanbul again, but finishing from the east.
Absolutely, the EGR is not a non-stop event. In fact, stopping is the point. And we think it would take at least a year to explore this marvelous coast of Europe in reasonable style. Scoring might include most artifacts collected or new species found (many of the microbes in these oceans are still unnamed.) The educational and political tie-ins would be fantastic.
But the 12,000 mile, as-the-crow-flies route is entirely possible, comfortable and safe — as long as any one of a number of existing modern-classic, Spirit-of-Tradition vessels are used.
The Station-To-Station World Racer: Isobel
Exactly which previously-owned Spirit-of-Tradition vessel would we recommend? That’s a no-brainer. Isobel, our 68-foot short-handed, racier/cruiser is dead perfect for this kind of extended, comfortable, station-to-station, global touring.
Isobel is part of the current trend of long and light coastal cruisers that feature enough private space for groups to not kill each other while circling Europe. But still have the length and lightness for real speed and ease of handling both in the open ocean in bigger rivers. It is boats like these that would make the Bosporus or the Aegean or Lisbon or Copenhagen or Moscow, perfectly comfortable. Yet be stout enough for the North Sea or for Baku, Azerbaijan, which is mid-way through the Caspain Sea.The winds whip in from Asia in there. Nasty, lumpy 5 meter waves are common.
All that is possible for a boat that can make 10 knots under sail or power, and is on the market for about the price of a well-funded Golden Globe Race 2018 campaign.
And Isobel is just one of many fast and comfortable Spirit-of-Tradition boats of recent vintage that can handle this course. Getting others to join you in rediscovering the world, would not be an unreasonable conversation.
Exploring the 21st Century Unknown.
Obviously, gunk-holing to Iran from Istanbul and back would involve significant complexities and risks. We are heartened about reports from people with direct knowledge of Russia and Iran, that this trip is possible. It is done all the time, in separate legs. Certainly any traveler would need to work with an experienced in-country tour professional, Several referred services do exist.
And it should be said, the U.S. State Department has mapped out travel advisories and essentially labeled the southern shore of the Caspian a no-travel zone. But is it any more life-threatening than struggling alone in the Southern Ocean in an old, slow boat.
Imagine what kind of course through the mind you could steer if one embraced a modern, neo-classic looking boat, like Isobel. We imagine a magical year with you and your family, that redefines today’s broken geography by the natural lines of the wind and water
Here are some more photos below. It’s doable.