Written by: Zuzana Prochazka
In a separate interview, Pete shared his insights about how to successfully prepare to sail around the world. Not surprisingly, he focused on the practical and tactical: “Know your boat inside out, test yourself pre-departure by sailing in heavy weather and at night, stay conservative, sharpen your technical skills and experiment with watch lengths to see what works for you.” We also learned that among his favorite authors was Robert Louis Stevenson. “With a good book, you’ll pick stuff up every time you read it.”
Now we probe a little deeper – get a little more personal – focus on the philosophical. We dig down to see what sailing around the world means and why it’s so alluring to so many. How are some people scared to death while others say, “I knew everything was going to be ok.”
Q: Describe a moment that stuck with you since it happened.
A: I had the morning watch. It was dawn. We were reefed up having just come through a sloppy, wet night after two days of being banged about. I looked up and we were sailing directly toward the center of a rainbow that looked as if it rose on the port side and settled to starboard. It was an awesome site, I was the only human on earth to see it and it made me feel humble, grateful and hopeful all at the same time. I knew everything was going to be ok.
Q: What advice would you give double handers?
A: Make sure everyone understands the chain of command. Establish a routine in which all tasks are shared. This will go a long way to stop any feeling of resentment that an individual always gets the "bad" jobs. (i.e. cleaning the head). Be flexible and considerate of each other. Ensure everyone gets enough rest.
Q: What was your favorite bit of equipment (you can’t say autopilot) on the boat?
A: The Watt & Sea water generator combined with the solar panels. This eliminated any power worries.
Q: What equipment do you wish you had?
A: A watermaker.
Q: How did it feel when you came back into St. Lucia when you finished the WorldARC? What were your thoughts? (Pride, relief, sadness??)
A: Hard question to answer. Proud to have completed the voyage, relieved, grateful, satisfied, curious about reentry into the real world, sad to leave friends we had made, glad to be reunited with family. Many mixed emotions.
Q: Expectations are perhaps the biggest single source of strife in our lives and unmanaged or unmet expectations can create stress. What advice would you give people about their expectations of this adventure? Of their crew? Of themselves?
A: Don't expect it to be all sunshine and smooth sailing. It is a lot of hard work both underway and in port. I think people underestimate the rigor of the trip. Be flexible with the crew. When things get tense, sloppy, wet and gloomy, cut people a bit of slack. Everyone handles apprehension and fear in a different way, but there can only be one authority on a vessel. Everyone must understand that. But that authority should listen, consult with others, and make a decision that involves considering the input of the crew. Maintain a good sense of humor and a positive attitude, even when you need to work at it. The sun will eventually shine and things will dry out and get better. Don't hold grudges, be ready to forgive and help others. Be honest about your concerns and feelings. Trust your preparations and your boat.
Q: You said Cocos Keeling was your favorite stopover – why did that strike you so and what were your thoughts?
A: Cocos Keeling was the dream; an isolated island where you could lay back and just enjoy God's creation. Wonderful weather, quiet, no facilities to demand you fix your boat or to make you feel guilty for not working on her. A great place to recharge and relax.
Q: What was your most memorable meal and why?
A: My most memorable meal was a simple gathering in Niue where the local population brought all sorts native dishes cooked in the traditional manner. We ate our fill of fish, fruit, beef, pork and vegetables, then sat around socializing, listening to local music and singing for a wonderful evening. The joy and happiness of the gathering was genuine and inspiring.
Q: If you could change something about the way the expedition (of the group) was managed, what would it be?
A: I did not have any issues with the way the World ARC was organized. I knew the time in port would be short due to the weather windows and the time frame advertised from the start. What I did not realize was that toward the end, the keeping of the schedule, got to be a bit burdensome. I did not realize how tired I would get keeping up the advertised schedule. The folks that took a year off around halfway were smart to do so. My schedule did not allow that. Even so, it was well worth the effort and is clearly doable.
Q: Given unlimited time in your life, would you do this again and if so, would you change anything in your own approach?
A: Yes. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am a lot smarter about how to do it, a better sailor, and know what you need from a practical point of view.
Q: What is essential for people to know before they take on a circumnavigation (or even a long passage) – not counting things like their boat, their mechanical skills, etc.
A: You are most certainly going to encounter something you did not plan for. When that happens, don't get excited, stay calm and solve the problem. Don't allow yourself to get fatigued. Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Even the worst weather is a passing event, so don't panic. Do what you know is safe and prudent. Read about what others have done to build your experience base and knowledge.
Q: What kind of person do you think undertakes this type of adventure and succeeds?
A: Someone who is willing to challenge big things but does so with an honest evaluation of the risks and their ability to meet the known risks and has the confidence that they can manage whatever comes their way. Being honest with yourself, being willing to ask for and take advice, and being willing to endure some hardship to accomplish the task. It is not an adventure for beginners. The ocean demands respect.
Q: What superstition has a hold on you?
A: I don't consider myself a superstitious person, however, if I can live with it, I don't change a boat name and I avoid starting a voyage on a Friday if possible. That’s a wrap of our more metaphysical chat with Pete Long. He’s an inspirational figure in the microcosm that is world cruising. Please contact us if you’re considering living this dream and we’ll even fill you in on all the key superstitions you should learn – just to cover all your bases