BJ's At It Again: Around the World Nonstop

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (10/18/97)
By Ray Pendleton

I am sure you haven't forgotten the name Brian "BJ" Caldwell. He was the McKinley High School graduate who, before his 21st birthday, singlehandedly sailed around the world.

As you remember, he sailed out of Ala Wai harbor in June of 1995 and essentially pointed his tiny (26-foot) sloop westward. After some 16 months, and stops in such exotic ports as Vanuatu, Cocos (Keeling), Mauritius, Durban, Cape Town, St. Helena, Grenada, and the Panama Canal, he returned home to become the youngest person to complete such a voyage.

Now, just a year later, BJ - obviously, not one to rest on his laurels - is near to embarking on another odyssey. This time he intends to post another sailing record by becoming the youngest person to not only circumnavigate our planet alone, but to do it without stopping and without any sort of assistance at sea.

The differences between his previous remarkable achievement and this new challenge are really quite mindboggling.

To begin with, sailing non-stop means just that. Unlike before,once BJ sets sail from Hawai`i, he cannot make landfall until he completes the approximately 24,000-mile, eight-to-ten-month rounding. All of the food, fuel, parts and equipment he will need must be on board when he leaves.

Sailing unassisted, BJ will be able to catch fish to eat, or rain water to drink, but he will not be allowed to have anything air-dropped or relayed to him from another boat.

Another difference will be the course BJ takes to make this circumnavigation. Instead of heading west and staying mainly in warm tropical waters, he will be reaching south to the frigid Southern Ocean and then running east in the infamous Roaring Forties.

Aptly named, the Roaring Forties are the often gale-force winds that circle the earth around forty degrees South Latitude, and other than the tip of South America, there is no land mass to interrupt their eastward flow.

A quick look at a globe of our world shows that by sailing south, below earth's major continents and above Antarctica, BJ will be taking the shortest and fastest route around, but it surely will not show the dangers.

Along with frigid water and air, icy decks, frozen rigging, and icebergs, BJ will have to cope with "growlers."

According to professional sailor John Jourdane, in his book "Icebergs, Port and Starboard, The Whitbread Round the World Race," growlers are one of the most deadly hazards to boats in the Southern Ocean.

"Icebergs are big and solid, and easily picked up on radar and seen by the deck watch," Jourdane writes. "But growlers, pieces of bergs about the size of a bus, and floating awash with most of the bulk hidden below the surface, can slice through a yacht's thin hull like a knife through butter."

I should mention that the Whitbread is raced with 60-footers, whereas BJ will be sailing a 29-foot boat over much of the same waters.

One similarity between this voyage and the last one is BJ's need for sponsors. Although Waikiki Yacht Club member Robert Asakura has quite generously loaned him his North Atlantic 29, CapeSeeker, there are still thousands of dollars of equipment and expenses that need to be covered.

With the huge amount of publicity BJ is likely to generate making this epic voyage, it would seem to be the type of activity many individuals or companies would find appropriate to back. If you think you can give BJ some kind of assistance, give him a call at (808) 945-0671

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