Solo sailor ends voyage

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Stanley Paris has abandoned his solo, non-stop circumnavigation attempt because of damage and technical issues on his 63-foot yacht, Kiwi Spirit.

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He has altered course to make port in Cape Town, South Africa, about 1,600 miles east/northeast of his position in the South Atlantic. He plans to arrive there in about seven days.

“To continue in the face of the sage advice ... would be foolish in the extreme and cruel to my wife, family and friends. I must now abandon this dream,” Paris blogged on Saturday.

At 76, his goal was to become the oldest sailor to complete a solo, non-stop voyage around the world and to complete the trip in 120 days. That would have been 30 days faster than the record of America’s first single-handed, non-stop solo circumnavigator, Dodge Morgan, who finished his voyage in 1986 in 150 days.

“My physical condition improves daily and is not part of the decision,” Paris wrote as he recovered from a fall he suffered on New Year’s Day while trying to douse a torn headsail.

After consulting with Farr Yacht Design and Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding, the designer and builder of Kiwi Spirit, he decided to call it quits because of a number of problems that have developed in the six weeks since he left St. Augustine, Fla. They include a damaged boom, broken battens, jury-rigged mainsheet and reefing systems, and weaknesses in the rigging attachments.

Paris quoted from an e-mail he received from Farr Yacht Design president Pat Shaughnessy: “I think the widespread failures across so many systems would have kept a crewed grand prix boat on shore. To have this combination of problems in your injured state is inviting disaster. … Please make the prudent decision and stop.”

“He has a roller furler on the jib that needs to be put back into action, and the sheave box on the end of the boom was damaged after a squall-induced gybe,” Lyman-Morse president and owner Cabot Lyman said in an e-mail to Soundings. “He needs to fix the battens in the mainsail after a clever fix with some fishing poles.”

Lyman, who is in daily contact with Paris, also said a representative is going to meet the boat in Cape Town to assess the damage and make repairs.

Paris, who made it a point to use only renewable energy to charge his batteries, also reported problems with power management. “The solar panels do not give a lot of power, very little on a gray day and none at all when the shadow of the sails falls across them. The wind generators give even less at times, especially when traveling downwind. It’s the hydro generators and their powerful turbines that create most of my power.”

But these generators require a boat speed of at least 9 knots to charge effectively, so Paris often was forced to sail hotter angles to keep boat speed up, thus covering substantially more distance.

Kiwi Spirit will be shipped to Lyman-Morse from Cape Town for repairs and the reinstallation of interior furnishings that were removed for the voyage. Paris will use her as a fast family cruiser, which was always his intent after finishing his circumnavigation.

“There will be no second attempt,” he wrote. “It will be a full year before I could start again and I have asked enough of my wife and family already. I should say I am sorry to disappoint so many. But there is one thing I can say and that is I tried and that my spirit did not give up until those I must respect made it clear to me that it was over.”