The Mars Voyage

Veteran long-distance sailor Reid Stowe, 55, and his girlfriend Soanya Ahmad, 23, departed from New York on Saturday April 21 on what they hope to be a 1,000-day, non-stop, triple circumnavigation. Ahmad, a novice sailor who has never sailed beyond the waters of the Hudson River, is also a professional photographer and plans to document the voyage with website updates, still images and video.

The couple plans no port calls for supplies and intends to be self-sufficient for the entire 1,000-day voyage. Stowe has dubbed the voyage “1,000 Days at Sea: The Mars Ocean Odyssey.” He chose the name because it compares his voyage to a trip to Mars, a journey that would involve about the same amount of time and isolation. Funding for the project came from corporate gifts and individual donors.

Stowe’s planned course will lead him south to the Cape of Good Hope. Before passing the cape, Stowe intends to make a closed loop in the South Atlantic that will trace the shape of a heart.

The 70-foot, 60-ton schooner, named Annie for Stowe’s mother, was built by Stowe and his family about 30 years ago. In 1999 Stowe and his ex-wife completed a 200-day voyage, also without port calls, re-provisioning or re-fueling.

Annie is well equipped for the task at hand. The vessel carries coal and firewood for a shipboard stove along with diesel for the auxiliary engine. For electricity there are solar panels and a drive shaft generator. The boat will be well provisioned and rely heavily on catching fish for protein. Fresh water will be collected, and there is also a backup watermaker aboard.
If they are successful Stowe and Ahmad will have trumped Australian Jon Sanders, who circumnavigated the globe three times from 1986 to 1988 spending a total of 657 days at sea.

By Ocean Navigator