After spending 267 days alone at sea aboard his 43-foot sailboat, Bert ter Hart has finally returned home from his non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. The 62-year-old used only celestial navigation on his journey, which means no GPS and only a sextant, sailor’s almanac, log tables and pen and paper to assist him during his travels. The Gabriola, British Columbia, man is the first North American to accomplish such a feat, and one of only five people in the world.
During his journey, ter Hart navigated 50- to 60-knot winds that threw waves as tall as his mast, and he only anchored once throughout the whole trip when he encountered a hurricane in the Falkland Islands. He had to keep three points of contact with the boat at all times to avoid being thrown around, so he ate every meal standing up, and he strapped himself to his bed with a seat belt as tightly as he could, never sleeping for longer than two hours at once as the boat was constantly in motion.
At the beginning of his journey, ter Hart was consuming up to 3,000 calories today, but by May he was eating only 800 per day to ration his food supply. Border closures due to the pandemic made resupply complicated, but his sister, Leah ter Hart, helped arrange a food drop off through a fishing charter, which involved getting approval from the Cook Islands government.
When ter Hart finally arrived in Victoria after nine harrowing months, his final challenge was convincing the authorities to waive the mandatory two-week quarantine period, as he had not stepped foot off his boat for months. His family called him “the safest man on the planet” as he had not made contact with another person since the pandemic began, and Victorian government obliged, exempting him from the quarantine. Ter Hart was greeted by his four children, his grandson, and his 92-year-old father, among other family members and friends. You can read more here or visit ter Hart’s blog.