Solo sailor hopes for smooth seas to Australia
June 17, 2010 · 11:08 AM
Ernest Hemingway’s the “Old Man and the Sea” tells the story of an epic struggle between a seasoned fisherman and the greatest catch of his life.
Sixty-eight-year-old Garry Bods-worth may not be out to land the greatest catch of his life, but he’s preparing to go to sea for a challenge few would attempt.
Bodsworth, a resident of Australia, purchased the 40-foot Dudley Dix sailboat and is now outfitting her for the long, arduous journey back home.
The captain is preparing the sailboat, christened “Freedom Song,” to depart on a four-month-long solo passage to Australia from Port Orchard next week.
“I’ve always wanted to sail the Pacific,” said Bodsworth. “I am at a place in my life where I can finally do it.”
The trek will take Bodsworth across 8,500 nautical miles of ocean, which is the equivalent of approximately 9,000 land miles.
The first leg of the trip, before seeing land again, will take him roughly five to six weeks to complete.
Then he will arrive at the French Polynesian Islands for some much needed restocking.
“I’m going to have to do a big shop before I leave,” he chuckled.
Captain Kent Phillips, a merchant marine and local business owner who has worked as an engineer in the famed Dutch Harbor in Alaska, is helping to ready the sailboat.
“When he first got the boat, it had nothing inside. It was pretty spartan,” Phillips said. “We made and installed all of the cushions inside the cabin and designed and constructed a dodger (a canvas shelter, mounted on a ship’s bridge or over the companionway of a sailing yacht to protect the helmsman from bad weather).”
Asked if he was nervous or afraid of being out in the middle of the ocean all alone, Bodsworth replied, “No, but I don’t want to run into any tropical storms. The wind can blow anywhere from 50 to 150 miles per hour out there and that can really do some damage.”
The “Freedom Song” is equipped with a single-sideband radio (SSB), which is used to receive weather faxes and voice weather broadcasts, for sending and receiving email, for listening to news when out of normal FM radio range and to contact the Coast Guard, if needed.
As a backup, the boat is also equipped with a distress radio beacon, also known as an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), which signals maritime distress.
This beacon is a tracking transmitter which aids in the detection and location of boats that are in distress.
Precisely, they are radio beacons that interface with Cospas-Sarsat, the international satellite system for search and rescue.
“I’ve been so busy getting the boat ready it hasn’t even hit me yet,” Bodsworth said about the upcoming voyage. “I took a cruise around some 30 years ago and ever since then it’s been a dream of mine to make a crossing like this.”