A trip across the ocean no sure thing
This past summer I introduced Water Ways readers to two women who, each in their individual way, were about to challenge the open ocean alone.
The first was Natasza Caban, a 30-year-old woman from Poland, who was soon to embark from Honolulu aboard her 34-foot sailboat in an attempt to be the youngest Polish woman to circumnavigate the globe.
The second was 39-year-old Roz Savage, a seasoned trans-Atlantic rower from Great Britain who began in August, rowing her specially designed boat from California to Hawaii on the first leg of an attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean to Australia.
In both cases, it was hugely apparent these women would be facing demands on their physical and mental resources far above those found in everyday life.
And as things have transpired, their fates have hinged as well on the whims of Mother Nature and the essential seaworthiness of their vessels.
Caban, who cast off from Oahu's Ala Wai Harbor on July 28, additionally found that the lack of some sponsorship and the corresponding loss of funding could also handicap a voyage.
Nevertheless, after a stop for repairs in Vanuatu, she and her small boat are now safely moored in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, some 4,750 miles southwest of Hawaii. But it was a passage that was not without peril.
As most sailors will tell you, sailing is often hours or days of boredom punctuated with moments of sheer fright. And for Caban, those punctuations came from natural and manmade causes.
A fishing boat that had turned off its running lights after Caban had tried to make radio contact with it one night to avoid a possible collision caused one of the manmade varieties.
"I was very scared," she told me by e-mail. They stayed with me for half an hour just by my side. It was pitch black so I just heard them, so I (imitated) a male voice via radio and they went away."
Along the coast of Papua New Guinea Caban again felt fear, but this time it was caused by a light show from Mother Nature.
"There was lightning every night," she wrote. "It is very scary when you're alone on the sea and it is flashing around your mast. I didn't like that."
Now that she has found a safe haven at the Royal Port Moresby Yacht Club, Caban has decided to wait until early next year for the most favorable weather to navigate the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, she will be on a multi-continent search for additional sponsors.
So what about Roz Savage, you ask? Well, unfortunately she had a more serious run-in with Mom Nature. As her meteorologist Rick Shema said before she began, "The most difficult challenge will be finding a four- or five-day weather window of light winds for her to row at least 100 miles off the California coast."
Regrettably, that didn't happen, but she assures us she will be starting all over again next summer.