HomeOutdoorsCanadian Man Sails Around World Alone Using Only Celestial Navigation

Canadian Man Sails Around World Alone Using Only Celestial Navigation

by Halle Ames
(Photo Credit: picture alliance / Contributor/ Getty Images)

A Canadian voyager set sail on a single-man 265 day trip around the world by only using celestial navigation. The man, whose journey started prior to the coronavirus, is being called the “Safest Man on the Planet”.

Bert ter Hart is a 62-year-old man from British Columbia, Canada, and is literally one in a billion.

Hart is now the eight people in the world, and the first in North America to travel all the way around the globe using only the stars to navigate. He went 265 days without any assistance from GPS. Hart relied solely on an old-fashioned sextant and a pen and paper.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the early explorers,” admits Hart.

He set sail in October of 2019 in a 42-foot boat, the Seaburban, traveling through all five great capes.

“One of the most profound ways you can experience what explorers and early sailors experienced is to use a sextant. The boats are different, the sailcloth is different, the clothing is, of course, vastly different. Everything is different except figuring out where you are because they did it exactly the same way.”

Hart adds, “And you’ll have exactly the same anxieties: Am I where I think I am? Is land going to show up where it’s supposed to be? That part of the experience, you can relive almost exactly because you’re using technology that hasn’t changed since the 1700s.”

History of Sailing

This, however, was not Hart’s first time at sea. The Canadian started sailing with his father at a young age. In addition, he has a degree in oceanography and has skippered the same boat to the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea.

It was no small task, however. It took him two to three hours every day just to find his exact location.

“The navigation was really hard because, in order to figure out where you are with a sextant, you have to see the horizon. But when you’re at sea in a small boat, there’s always waves, and the swell can be anywhere from 12 to 15 feet,” Hart said.

“The motion is so extreme, the boat is tilted at some crazy angle, it’s going up and down, and rolling from side to side. If I were to put a pencil down, five seconds later, that pencil is in a completely different part of the boat.”

The Hardships Around the World

When passing through the Falkland Islands, the seaman hit trouble when coming upon a hurricane that forced him to anchor for a few days. Although he never did step foot on land.

“It’s mentally draining because when you’re inside the boat, it sounds like there are a hundred people outside with sledgehammers, just pounding every square inch of the boat. The wind is screaming, and every now and then, a wave will break over, and the boat is mostly underwater.”

The mental toll took a hit on Hart as he was only sleeping an average of four hours a day, while usually strapped down with a seatbelt to stay secure.

He was also on a strict eating schedule. The voyager started his day with oatmeal paired with dried fruit and nuts for breakfast, canned tuna or salmon for lunch, and pasta or quinoa with canned vegetables for dinner.

After a grueling day of work, he underestimated how much he would be consuming. When his food supplies began to run low, he started rationing food to 800 calories a day. His sister came to the rescue by setting up a food drop in Rarotonga.

Despite all of Hart’s hardships, he is thankful for the trip around the world.

“The ocean is absolutely magnificent. The nights are to die for. The stars, the birds, the sunsets and sunrises, the porpoises and flying fish and whales. It’s just amazing. And you’re the only one there. Everything is just for you.”

[H/T Travel + Leisure]