Webb Chiles—Adventurer And Artist

I stumbled across Webb Chiles’ site today. For those who don’t know of him, Chiles is a single-handed multiple-circumnavigator, consummate seaman, writer of good prose and even poetry, and probably a little nuts—but then, in my experience, many of the most interesting people fall into the last category.

The wimp within me shakes his head at some, maybe most, of Chiles’ exploits, but I do admire them and am glad that this over-safety conscious world still has a few people like him in it.

His latest piece is a suggestion that single-handers, or even all voyagers, should carry less safety gear rather than more. You see, Chiles belongs to the Blondie Hasler school of offshore voyaging ethics and personally practices what he preaches.

I should explain. When Hasler, a decorated English war hero, was asked, as he set off without a radio in Jester for the first single handed trans-Atlantic race, what he would do without any way to call for help if the boat sank, he replied “It would be more seemly to drown like a gentleman”.

I’m certainly not brave enough to practice this ethic myself, but I do admire it; or maybe I just have a soft spot for Chiles because he has been married even more times than I have—twice as many to be exact.

His latest book is worth reading: Return to the Sea.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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