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Kiwi Spirit Being Stripped

Kiwi Spirit has had her insides cleaned out, resulting in more space for me to handle sails, gear below reach and just as importantly, to reduce her weight by several hundred pounds. Beds, toilets, pots and pans, clothing, drawers and doors are all going into storage. The mast and rigging has been removed to be inspected for wear and tear. Same for the keel and the sails. She has some 8,000 miles on her now and it is time to make sure we see where any problems may exist.

I am at the Lyman Morse boat yard in Thomaston, Maine, during this time observing all that I can. Much of it for “just in case” scenarios. Should my mast break, I will need to know how to detach it, and the rigging and throw it into the sea before it bangs a hole in the side of the boat. If some of the gear can be saved to make a jury rig, then I will of course attend to that. The tools I have to do the jobs are quite impressive. We are also installing an extra hatch - an escape hatch if I lose my keel and the boat flips upside down causing me to have a need to be able to get out from the stern, complete with life raft and electronic gear.

Where ever Kiwi Spirit goes the graphics get attention. The lines also get attention but the two combined are just great. I get asked many questions about performance from those who know sailing and while many are polite, they like to know my age as they have heard that there are several records being challenged:

  • Oldest to solo circumnavigate, non-stop and non-assisted - 76

  • First to complete a green voyage - no gas, diesel, propane, etc

  • Break Dodge Morgan’s 150 day record from Bermuda and back

  • Establish a St. Augustine and back record via Bermuda.

Of all the above, I will be proudest to be the oldest, as it certainly is not easy to be my age and to maintain a fit and healthy body, as well as the desire to keep pushing the limits rather than sitting in a rocking chair on a porch. I have never been a "coach potato," have watched my weight, exercised in moderation and occasionally excessively (as in swimming the English Channel and doing the Kona Ironman). I do think "moderation" is the key to marinating a healthy mind and body into the senior years. I do not lift, push, pull or do anything to my maximum, always keeping something in reserve. I can do physical work all day but at a moderate, not at a furious level.

I have been asked what physical training I am doing for the voyage? Well, not much really. It’s not an aerobic activity, and so running would not help, and swimming is inconvenient and boring. I am just staying active, walking, mowing lawns and enjoying all manner of moderate activities. Much of my time is taken up with reading. Reading manuals on the boat electronics and parts, on sail trim, managing gales and storms, and of course, on survival. I am bent to taking risks, but more than that, I have a high desire to survive whatever comes along - and the will no doubt.

Sea trials will begin again in September and then she will sail to St. Augustine, arriving late that month or early October. That will be the last eight weeks to go before departure. In that time I will attempt to sail about three to four days a week to practice different maneuvers and techniques. With ten days to go I will host several receptions for those who wish to see the boat in its "battle" configuration. Provisioning for 120 plus days (record is 150) and saying my goodbyes. Then, Thanksgiving weekend, of which I will leave on Saturday, November 30th on the high tide at 4:00pm. We will try to have it on Youtube. Don't be surprised to see the boat being towed to the start, for the engine is sealed against use except in an emergency.

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