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Solo sailor tested by the sea

APRIL 24 — Heading into the final leg of her circumnavigation, a Rhode Island solo sailor spent 36 sleepless hours at the helm last week in bad weather off Bermuda.

Donna Lange, 45, says she experienced gusts up to 60 knots and seas up to 40 feet when the storm was at its worst, according to a press release. Lange’s sea anchor failed off the British Virgin Islands April 16 and she was forced to sail 185 miles east to Bermuda in the storm. Her steering gear damaged, Lange had to man the tiller of her 28-foot sloop, named Inspired Insanity, for nearly a day-and-a-half without sleep.

At one point “a huge wave broke completely over the port stern quarter, throwing us fully onto our side,” Lange says in the release. “I was literally holding my breath underwater, holding onto the dodger with all my life.”

Lange set off in November 2005 on a single-handed, 31,000-mile voyage around the world. She Arrived in New Zealand four months later where she hauled Inspired Insanity for the season. She picked up the circumnavigation again in November 2006.

Lange had expected to set off from the BVIs for her hometown of Bristol, R.I., according to information on her Web site. Instead, Lange was to fly to New York on Monday and return to Bristol Saturday for a homecoming ceremony at the HerreshoffMarineMuseum.

An in-depth story on Lange and her voyage is planned for an upcoming issue of Soundings

Jason Fell