old sailor   Maritime Topics On Stamps :

Circumnavigators !

This page depicts stamps of circumnavigations of the world with small boats, yachts and cutters. But we will take a look at the very first round- the-world trip, as well.
On the 20th of September, 1519, Spain's Magellan started his voyage with a fleet of five small ships and 273 crew members. His goal was to find a new way to the spice islands, the Molukken, other than the Portugal-controlled route round the Cape of Good Hope. On this journey he discovered a passage to the Pacific in South America, which became known as the Magellan Strait. All-in-all it was a catastrophic voyage. Many sailors died by expiration and hunger. Ships were lost in heavy seas and captured by pirates. Magellan himself was murdered by natives on the Phillipine Islands.
After three years, the last vessel, the 'Victoria' entered the port of Sevilla under the command of Sebastian del Cano and only 18 survivors. The first circumnavigation of the world was completed!

The American Joshua Slocum worked many years as a captain on cargo sailing ships. At the age of 51 he wanted to do something that nobody had done before: to sail a boat around the world on his own. On the 24th of April 1894 he started with his 'Spray' - a wooden boat, length 37ft, two masts, sloop rig, no motor and no auto pilot! He sailed from Boston to Spain, then changed the course to South America and entered the Pacific through the Magellan Strait. On Slocum went via Samoa to Australia, South Africa, Barbados and back to Newport in the United States, where he arrived on the 27th of June, 1898. He travelled approximately 45,000 nautical miles. The first single-handed cicrcumnavigation of the world was completed.

The French Alain Gerbault started out as an engineer, became an aircraft pilot during World War One, changed to business man afterwards and all the way was an excellent tennis player. His restless spirit drove him to more and more exceptional activities and so he simply chose to became a sailor. In April 1923 Gerbault left the port of Cannes with his boat 'Firecrest'. It was made of wood, had a length of 39ft, was rigged as a cutter and 32 years old. During the voyage to New York he was washed over board by heavy sea, but managed to climb back. Passing the Panama Canal Gerbault reached the Pacific Ocean and sailed from one island to the other. Two times he ran ashore on a reef, once even with the loss of his keel, but he quickly found help everywhere. In July 1929, after six years Gerbault arrived back in France. After receiving the honours he built a new boat and sailed back to the South Sea. Firecrest

Lehg II From June 1942 to July 1943 the Argentinian Vito Dumas sailed single- handed around the world. His route was bound eastward from Buenos Aires via Cape Town to New Zealand, then across the Pacific Ocean to Chile. Dumas took honours for rounding Cape Horn as the very first 'yacht man' and safely made it back to Argentina. His wooden boat, the 'Legh II', had a length of 33ft and a Ketch rig. Dumas worked in the cattle business, but was a member of a sailing club, where he learned sailing. During his circumnavigation he had to fight several leakages and an infection in his arm, which temporarily caused very high fever.
In the 'Roaring Forties' his boat was rolling in waves up to 50 feet high, and he had several 'near collisions' with passing whales. Off Cape Horn a high sea threw Dumas off his feet and broke his nose. Back home he was welcomed as hero and received awards by the dozens.

The yacht on this Uruguayan stamp was build in 1933 as 'Microcosmos' at Amsterdam. Later on she was bought by four Uruguayan navy officers for a journey around the world and renamed to 'Acherra'. During their preperations one of them died, causing them to rename the boat once again. From now on she bore the name of the deceased comrade, 'Alferez Campora'. Nonetheless the three officers Nader, Costa and Firpo managed to circumnavigate the world with this ketch from 1960 to 1963.
Alferez Campora

Gipsy Moth IV
In 1963 the English Francis Chichester won the first 'Observer' single hand Trans-Atlantic race. After a long and varied life between England and New Zealand he decided to circumnavigate the world using the route of the Australian Clippers of old. After three prototypes Chichester built his 'Gipsy Moth IV', length 53ft, two masts, yawl rig, 11.5 tons displacement. Starting on the 27th of August, 1966, he sailed single-handedly and nonstop from Plymouth via the Cape Agulhas to Sydney in 107 days. After some repairs Chichester went on, again nonstop, via the Pacific, Cape Horn back to England. He needed a total of 274 days and during the 226 days on sea he reached an average speed of 4.5 knots. Chichester was 66 years old and was knighted shortly thereafter.

In 1968 the Englishman Robin Knox-Johnson took part in the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo round-the-world race. He was the one and only out of ten participants, who reached the destination Falmouth after a struggle lasting 313 days. His 33ft wooden boat 'Suhaili' was rigged as a ketch. Inside Tairoa Heads, Otago/NZ Knox-Johnson ran aground, but he was able to free himself and his boat. Over the whole distance of 30,123 nm he sailed with an average speed of 4,02 knots. Nevertheless, he was not the first man sailing alone nonstop around the world.
The French Bernard Moitessier, who took part in the same race and was leading the fleet far in front, had already crossed his outbound course and so finished a circumnavigation. But then for some unintelligible , inconceivable reason Moitessier changed his course and headed on eastward to finish a second circumnavigation. He became the first solo nonstop circumnavigator but of course was immediately disqualified regarding the Golden Globe race.

The loneliness, the daily fight with the sea, the lack of sleep, fear, illness and injuries change the human beings in their small boats. Many solo sailors made the experience, that suddenly other thoughts and things became more and more important. They became aware how their surrounding and way of life was changing them. We know of one sailor, who even completely lost his mind (people later found his empty boat with his logbook).

Hummingbird II
While growing up the Polish Leonid Teliga read all the books about Slocum and Gerbault. His dream, to be like his heroes and to circumnavigate the world on his own, became true from 1966 to 1969. (see stamp to the left). Teliga's wooden boat 'Opty', an abbreviation for 'optimism', had a length of 32.4ft and was rigged as a yawl. He started at Casablanca, Morocco, because he didn't got the permission to go through the Baltic Sea during winter time. Teliga sailed on westward via the Panama Canal into the Pacififc Ocean. One time the sailing beam crashed into his stomach, causing constant pain for the rest of the yourney.
On the right stamp you can see Trinidads Haraold La Borde and his wife Kwailan. In 1960 they crossed the Atlantic Ocean with their 'Hummingbird I', and from 1969 to 1973 they circumnavigated the globe with their 'Hummingbird II'. She was a 40ft boat, rigged as a ketch. From 1984 to 1986 they sailed around the world once more.

Cor Zaroly
On the stamp to the left you can see the 46ft ketch 'Polonez'. In 1972 the Polish Krystof Baronowsky took part in a Trans-Atlantic race and finished twelfth. Afterwards he sailed around the world eastward with the same boat in two years. It took him only 45 days from Hobart/Tasmania to Cape Horn, setting a new record for solo sailors.
On the stamp to the rigth you can see the 'Kor Karoli', the boat of the first Bulgarian circumnavigator Georgei Georgiov. He sailed with this boat single handedly around the world from the 20th of December, 1976 to the 20th of December 1977. On this stamp his course via the Panama Canal is depicted.

Express Crusader
From March 1976 to April 1978 the Polish woman Krystyna Chojnoswka-Liskiewicz sailed alone from Las Palmas westward via the Panama Canal around the world. Her boat was the 30 feet 'Mazurek'. She was a shipbuilding engineer and driven by the ambition to become the first woman to complete a solo circumnavigation.
New Zealand's Naomi James did a single hand circumnavigation from September 1977 to June 1978. With her 53ft fiberglass yacht 'Express Crusader' she even managed to beat the old record of Sir Francis Chichester by two days. She circled the globe eastward in 272 days.
In some newspapers, books, on the stamp to the left and on the cover of Naomi's own book anyone could read that she was the first woman sailing alone around the world. In fact Krystyna was the first and Naomi the faster one, but both of them were brave and excellent sailors!

Capitan Miranda
In the eighties, circumnavigation became fashionable. To the left you can see the 'Trishna' of the Indian Navy. From 1985 to 1987 she was on a circumnavigation westward via the Panama Canal, (the course is depicted on the stamp). To the right you can see the three-masted schooner 'Capitan Miranda' of Uruguay. This ship was build in 1930 and sailed around the world from 1987 to 88.

Today many boats sail around the world every year. Most of them are married couples fulfilling themselves the old dream of a circumnavigation. Then there are sport sailors, who want to win races and/or break records. But there are people, who simply want to break free from 'normal' life, as well.

In 1994 Britains Robin Knox-Johnson and New Zealands Peter Blake tried to break the world record for the fastest circumnavigation. Using the 92ft catamaran 'ENZA NZ' it took only 74 days and 22 hours to complete the 26,414 nm. In the beginning the cat ran with an average speed of 20 knots but a few windless days decreased the speed to 14.7 kn. With only a few days before arrival, an extremely dangerous situation arose.
A heavy storm threatened to capsize the boat and the the crew had to stabilise it by towing a heavy chain throw the water. This record trip was honoured with the Jules Verne Trophy.

Like Moitessier and Tabarly, Olivier de Kersauson was one of the great French yachtsmen. In 1988/89 he set a new world record for single hand circumnavigation with his trimaran 'Un Autre Regard'. In 125 days he sailed 29,150 nm around the world. In 1993/94 Kersauson needed only 77 days with the 'Lyonnaise-des-Eaux-Dumez'. In 1997 he cut the record to 71 days and 14 hours with the 89ft trimaran 'Sport Elec', which got him the Jules Verne Trophy (this time he had a crew aboard though). In 2001 Kersauson built a 109 feet trimaran 'Geronimo' and as of today, plans a new record breaking trip in 2002. Un Autre Regard

This, because in 2001 a new record was set by Grant Dalton with his 112ft trimaran 'Club Med'. He started in Barcelona and finished at Marseille after a circumnavigation of 23.800 nm within 62 days and seven hours, averaging 16 knots. Currently, in 2002, the trimaran 'Orange' is surfing around the world with up to 37,8 knots.

Paratii On the double stamp above you can see a rowing boat crossing the South Atlantic. The second stamp depicts the sailing boat 'Paratii' to remember the first circumnavigation of the Antarctic. Both record- setting voyages were done by the Brazilian Amyr Klink. You can see their courses on the globe depicted on the stamps. In November 1998 Klink started from Southern Georgia. His 'Paratii' was a 50ft aluminium boat with a new light-weight 'Aero Rig System'. Klink was back after 88 days, 20 days earlier than he had calculated. He reported thick fog, heavy gales, 45ft high waves, icebergs, surf speed of up to 14 knots, frozen oil in his cooker and the constant noise of sea-elephants.

Traite de Rome
Today we have three 'Round-the-World-Races' which will repeat in different periods.
  • The 'Whitbread Round the World Race' - a race divided into several legs. The first race started 1973/74, returning in four year intervals up to 2001/2. For the last race the main sponsor changed and the race was renamed to 'Volvo Ocean Race'. On the stamp to the left you can see the yacht of the European Union (EU), the 'Traite de Rome'. She took part in the races in 1977/78 and 1981/82. To the right New Zealand's 'Endeavour', winner of the 1993/94 race.
  • The 'Vendee Globe Challenge' is a 'Solo Nonstop Round The World Race'. Introduced in 1989 this race is repeated every four years as well. This race is more about rounding the Antarctic (see the course on the stamp below), but remains an extremely diffcult single hand race fighting the grim coldness and the constant threat of dangerous icebergs; one sailor never returned.
  • The 'BOC Challenge', later on called 'Around Alone', is a race consisting of several legs. The first race started 1982 and like the others repeats every four years. (BOC is the abbreviation of the first sponsor, British Oxygen Company.)

Globe Challenge
The actual distances travelled vary depending on the course of the circumnavigation. On a course along one of the Pole's one can pass all longitudes in a very short time. The circumference at the equator is 40.075km, i.e. 21.639nm, but nobody can sail straight along the equator without hitting land mass. We are speaking of a real circumnavigation when you pass both antipodes of a 'great circle', that means you have to pass the points directly opposite on both sides of the world.
The favourite route around the world follows the three capes. One sails eastward round Cape Agulhas, South Africa, continues to Cape Leeuwin in Southeast Australia and finally the famous Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America. This was the historic route of the Australian Clippers where one could exspect the best aft winds.

The first German single hand circumnavigators were Alfred Kallies with his 'Pru' (1965/69) and Wilfried Erdmann with his 'Kathena' (1966/68). Erdmann again was the first German to circumnavigate the world eastward alone nonstop (1984/85). In 2000 he started again, aged 61, on a single hand nonstop westward bound voyage against the main wind and stream directions. Among many excellent German sailors Erdmann is probably the greatest.
On the stamp to the right you can see the German racer 'illbruck'. This is the first German boat ever won a race round the world (2001/02).
stamp illbruck

© 1998 - 2003 Bjoern Moritz, all rights reserved.

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