158: Randall Reeves: Inspiring others to do the impossible. Randall Reeves is the 1st person to circumnavigate the America’s and Antartica in a figure 8 by himself in 2018. Incredible.

July 3, 2020

Randall Reeves

Find out what is involved in Randall Reeves’s goal to be the first person to circumnavigate the Americas and sail to Antarctica by himself in one year? “Imagine the globe, if you would, in your hand, and you are looking right down at San Francisco, Figure 8 Voyage is an attempt to sail from San Francisco all the way south, all the way to the bottom of the world, down to the bottom of South America, make a hard left, go all the way around Antarctica, back to South America again, all the way up the Atlantic, way, way up to the Arctic into what we call the NorthWest Passage, make hard left there, across the top of Canada, Alaska. And back home to San Francisco, about 40,000 miles in one year.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Randall Reeves, a Singlehander Ocean Sailor that is known for his Figure 8 Voyage. Randall discusses the trip that inspired his idea for the Figure 8 Voyage. “I invited my lovely wife down to LaPaz and talked to her about what it would be like to do this extra long voyage. How long would it take sweetheart? Well, it is going to take another year given distances and hurricane seasons. So, your one year voyage will become a 2-year voyage. Yes hunny, I’m afraid that’s what it is going to be. She thinks for a moment and says, well I think you should do that, which just shocked the hell out of me.”

What You Will Learn:

What was the Drake Passage like? “To sailors, Cape Horn is the Everest of sailing. It is, as you pointed out, the nastiest most difficult bit of water you can find. Part of the reason for that is that it is a very rugged and difficult piece of land sticking way, way, way down in the ocean, 56 degrees south. It is one of the furthest south pieces of land in Antarctica. Then Antarica has a large peninsula facing towards Cape Horn.”

How hard was it when he attempted his first Figure 8 Voyage? “I met my first really big storm, it was right off of Cape Horn. I was about 500 miles west and got into a gale that had 50 knot winds gusting 70. We did ok through most of the gale but the last part of the storm the boat got knocked down. So, in sailor terms a knockdown is when the boat gets knocked down all the way over, 180 degrees, mast in the water.”

How do you get a boat upright again after a knock down? ‘Heavy displacement boats, they have a large keele made out of lead .There is a lot of weight underneath that hull, that white hull you can see above the water. The purpose of having all that weig., to keep the boat upright. So, t down there is to keep the boat stable. SO, a boat like mine, when it gets knocked over, it is a matter of seconds before it comes back upright again.”

Randall Reeves explains one of the big challenges of the Figure 8 Voyage. “One of the challenges of the Figure 8 is I’m trying to do the entire thing in the year. I’m trying to be in the southern parts of the world in the southern summer and the northern part of the world in the northern summer. So, in the southern summer that is the best time to be there and there is no getting through the Arctic in the winter because it is frozen solid.”

What types of challenges did he experience sailing in Antarctica? “You are in a really alien environment. So, the oceans make up, what,  ⅔ of the planet? And you are in a part of the planet where the winds are high all of the time. The wind travels around Antarctica, west-east, it goes around and around and around the globe and it travels fast and it is cold. So, the seas are big. The air is cold. Everything you do is challenging.”

Witnessing Wildlife

What has stood out to him during his voyages as just breathtaking beauty? “In the north, during the NorthWest Passage, you will see walruses and polar bears and a lot of the big animals that a lot of people talk about. But, I think one of the most incredible animals for me is, as I alluded to earlier, is seeing the albatross. One of the real breathtaking things about being in the southern ocean is that you are surrounded by wildlife all the time.”

Life in the Seas

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, the talk with Randall Reeves also includes what is needed aboard his boat. “It took me about two years to find the right boat for the Figure 8 Voyage. The boat I had was 30 feet long, plenty strong, but not fast enough and not big enough to carry enough stores and spare parts. Not only do you have to have your own supply of food and water but you’re in a hardware store as well. If anything breaks, and a lot of stuff is going to break, you have to fix it with what you have.”

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