Saturday, 2:15 PM
North Shore solo sailor rounds Africa, heads into storm
In quieter weather, Rich Wilson shot video of his boat sailing during a clear, moonlit night and a sunny day.
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
A North Shore man who is sailing around the world by himself has rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa and is heading east into the teeth of a storm.
“We’re pretty much on edge here right now,” said Rich Wilson, 58, of Marblehead, who has been sailing the 60-foot Great American III in the Vendee Globe solo yacht race for a month.
“I’m tired. The boat’s going very fast. We’ve got a storm coming tomorrow night, so there’s a very high tension level not knowing how strong it’s going to be,” he said in a satellite telephone interview this afternoon from his boat.
“This is the scary part of it all because you’re so far away from anything,” said Wilson.
Wilson said injuries he received earlier in the race to his back and ribs are much improved, but it’s grueling work sailing his boat, which was hitting 18 knots -- that’s water skiing speed, he pointed out -- under winds of about 35 knots this afternoon.
Raising and lowering the boat’s sails is hard work and the craft is constantly in motion, he said.
“This thing has been going on and on and it’s going to continue to go on and on and on,” said Wilson. “It can be pretty violent. You’ve just got to be holding on all the time. It’s tough ... You’re going to have a nice night’s sleep, but I’m not.”
The race began Nov. 9 in the French port of Les Sables D’Olonne. It’s expected to last about 100 days. Stormy weather hit the participants just after they left the starting line, and some were forced to turn back.
Wilson is the president of sitesALIVE!, a company that works to connect students to learning adventures on land and sea. He is participating in the race to share his experiences with schoolchildren through the Newspaper in Education program. He doesn't expect to win and is currently in 20th place out of 24 still in the race, with more than 17,000 nautical miles to go.
His log entries, photos, and podcasts can also be found at the sitesalive.com website, where he also answers students' questions. The site also contains essays from a team of experts on topics related to his voyage
Wilson was distracted for a moment during today's interview by a loud noise outside the boat’s cabin, but then decided with relief it was “just a wave against the hull.”
“I’m tired and I’m probably not being particularly joyous today,” he said. “Tomorrow night’s going to be a tough night.”