Brazilian cat sailor completes epic trans-hemispheric voyage

Long-distance trips in small catamarans are nothing new. There’s the Worrell 1000, of course, which, since 1976, has seen the en masse sailing of Hobie cats from south Florida to Virginia.

But this summer Brazilian cat sailor Beṭo Pandiani completed quite a feat. Beginning in Antarctica in 1994, Pandiani and various friends have been sailing stretches of the South American coastline: a 4,500-mile voyage from Puerto Montt, Chile, around the Horn to Rio de Janeiro; a 500-mile passage from Antarctica across the Drake; a transit of the full South American east coast, including extensive exploration Рsome 8,000 miles in 289 days Рof the Orinoco River basin. He has since snaked his way through the Caribbean islands and up the U.S. east coast, participating in the Worrell 1000 along the way and winning a silver trophy for his efforts.

He and crewmember Felipe Whitaker, sailing from New York on May 12, arrived in Greenland on Aug. 16, completing – without doubt – the longest collective trip ever in a small catamaran. The latter part of the voyage included sailing around Montauk Point off Long Island; attempting to sail unassisted through the Cape Cod Canal (they were stopped within five minutes and towed through free of charge); Scituate, Mass.; and numerous points in Maine. At the end of each day, the pair would haul out on a beach, to the amazement and occasional disapproval of onlookers, and explain their story.

A description of their stop in Carvers Harbor, Vinalhaven, Maine, illustrates a typical reception:

“By the second time we were very bad welcomed,” Pandiani wrote in his log. “[A]t first, we stopped on a rock beach just by the ferry that brings people to the island and the manager of the ferry services – in a not very kind way – told us to move from there. So we went on looking for a better place to stop and sleep and on the way we got to know a fishing coop chief, Nora, who gently received us and waved us with the possibility of using their ramp as shelter for the boat. Then, soon after that, we found a public ramp were we’d best fit. So we did it. And, as we set the boat up, we realized that there was a film shooting going on there. And we have messed up all the shooting scene! At first, I think that they did not like us very much but then after a few chats and waves, we got closer, they got closer, and we became partners to split the whole island’s attention. It was funny, wherever we’d go, we’d be treated as movie stars.”

The pair sailed across the Gulf of Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, only to continue northeast to Newfoundland and Labrador for a final crossing of the Davis Strait, completing their voyage at 66° 30′ N.

Most of the southern legs were completed in a 21-foot Hobie cat; the most recent voyage was completed in a German-made Eagle cat 20 with carbon-fiber spars.

The former Rio nightclub owner had this to say upon completion: “Now that I finished Boreal Route along with Felipe, Antarctica and the Artic are joined in five incredible journeys. How amazing the Americas are! Now I want to put my mind in other objectives, in other trips, maybe from east to west in the Pacific, since I have sailed always in a north-south axis. I dream of the trade winds and the long, hot passages.”

By Ocean Navigator