2010/06/28

The Old Man And The Seas

Minoru Saito has circled the globe seven times solo on a sailboat. The last time he did so he became the oldest person to sail non-stop around the world solo. He was 71 years of age.

So where is he now? Well, he has spent the last two years sailing around the world for the eighth time! But this time, instead of taking the usual route going west to east, he is going the "hard way" - east to west. This route has taken him against the prevailing currents, waves, and winds, especially in critical areas such as the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. The few sailors who have attempted rounding Cape Horn east to west solo have compared it to climbing mount Everest alone - without oxygen.


Saito-san has paid a price. His boat has been badly battered, its sails torn, the auxiliary engine overheating, his body broken (a gash in an arm, broken bridge of three front teeth, emergency abdominal surgery). After making it around Cape Horn on the second try, he refused to abandon ship as demanded by the Chilean Navy and was towed 400 miles to port where he spent the winter in a small fishing village making repairs.

He is now in Hawaii, 87% of the way around the world. The boat is getting more much needed repairs, thanks to his many online friends, for the final leg of his voyage which will return him to Yokohama, Japan. Saito-san is in a hurry, for the typhoon season in Japan starts in a matter of weeks, and he must get home before then.

To see a local news interview of Saito-san, click here: KITV News, Honolulu; or here: KHON News

Asked what he misses most, he answers "hot springs, ofuro (Japanese bath), tempura and sushi".

When he arrives, he will be 76 years old, and most probably the oldest man to have sailed around the world alone. Saito-san says this will be his final voyage.

Recently in the news, Abby Sunderland, who was trying to set the record for being the youngest person to sail non-stop around the world, met with disaster in the Indian Ocean and had to abandon her boat. Happily, she was rescued. While she is to be admired for her attempt, somehow, to me, being the oldest person to achieve such a feat carries more weight than being the youngest. Youth has quick wit, strength, and vigor to apply to the task, while the aged must muster all their waning resources to make such an attempt.


Saito-san's journey has been most difficult, but his age has not stopped him. He is a reminder to us all to never stop dreaming and doing.

[On the other hand, considering the troubles of this latest trip, perhaps the message is "learn to quit while you're ahead".]

His websites are here: www.saito8.com/ (English/Japanese); Logbook Blog - http://saito8.blogspot.com/

3 comments:

Arkonbey said...

That is awesome.

I am presuming a great deal, but it seems that he's not at his happiest unless he's underway and he might not think it a bad thing to pass away of extreme old age while at sea.

Perhaps to disappear forever in the wide expanse of the ocean. A bit like The Big Blue's Jacques Mayol, but on the surface.

Again, that's presuming a lot.

frankie said...

Never stop dreaming and daring.

Don Snabulus said...

I think I like Mr. Saito's story better than Hemingway's.

I hope he makes it back before the hurricanes.