The sailor and his friend closing in on the Horn - in the wrong direction. Images courtesy of the expedition website (click to enlarge).

Tomek and Wacek 'wrong-way' voyage update: The sapphire abyss

Posted: Dec 04, 2007 05:00 am EST
( Polish Tomasz Lewandowski lost it all, moved to America and gained it back fishing for clams and setting up a construction business in Seattle.

This sailor is a tough as they come. After almost 270 days of his east to west single-handed, non-stop, around the world battle and closing in on the Horn with an iffy engine, end last week the Captain dove down into the ocean to scrape the bottom of his boat, Luka.

"The scrapes flew down like great pieces of snow," Tomek reported, "watching them fall into the sapphire abyss, I wondered how deep it was here - perhaps a few kilometers of water, I felt uneasy..."

Diving numerous times, Tomek also cleaned the propeller, while getting increasingly colder, "I felt that I was slowing down and should get out of the water. With trouble I pulled my 150kg body along a thin, bending ladder."

Sweet life: Fish fry and hot tea with "alcohol"

The Captain celebrated basking in the sun on deck, sipping hot tea "mixed with alcohol." Except for the mechanics, so far, all is good onboard:

"A beautiful day today," was the latest. "Theres little wind, but in a few days we will come out of the zone of changeable winds and perhaps then we will move briskly in the direction of Horn, which I hope, will behave decently".

"I could eat some fish soup and fresh fish from the frying pan. Yesterday I threw out the bait, and now all I have to do is ask Mother Ocean for a fat, not too large fish. Luka with a clean bottom sails faster now, were going 2 knots at a very stable wind, previously we sailed 0.5 knot."

March 6th 2007 at 12:28 (GMT-08:00), Tomek kicked off his trip around the world single-handed and without stops from East to West. The voyage goes 'the wrong way' - that is against the prevailing winds.

Where you normally would adjust the sails a couple of times a day at the most, going against the winds makes for a far more stressful and demanding journey. But hardship is the Polish' middle name and so Tomek has sailed against nature around infamous spots such as the Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope. Why? For no reason at all - but to fulfill a lifelong dream.

Polish Tomasz Lewandowski grew up trailing about the Jeziorak lake in Poland. His desire to sail the world alone is as old as he is. At 20, he fixed up Luka an old 7,5 m long sinuate yacht built from straw. It took one year to transform her - in his eyes at least - to the 'Princess of the Jeziorak'.

In the mid 80's, Tomek bought materials for Rudy, a 12 m long yacht he planned to build. Marriage (as usually happens in such circumstances, notes the website) put the vision of a sea-worthy yacht on hold, and Tomek found himself a responsible father building a new house instead.

After some years a hurricane" struck Tomek's life. The marriage and the home vanished, leaving Tomek with nothing left but an old dream. He left for America in 1990 and worked in New Bedford (MA) fishing for scallops, and later on the Kodiak Island (Alaska), and the Bering Sea. Soon, he was the owner of a small construction company in Seattle (WA) and Mammoth Lakes (CA).

That's when he met Beata: The very first time I met Tomek, he said, one day Im going to sail the world alone and then Ill tell you all about it, she said. For the next years, Tomek would drag Beata around marinas looking at yachts. "Close your eyes and imagine, thats my Luka standing there, he told her. "She was not there yet, but she already had a name," Beata says.

Late June in 2003, Beata came home to find that Tomek had left her for another woman. He was in Santa Barbara, CA, and it was love at first sight. "A week later Tomek called...either he missed me or maybe he wanted to show off his new fiancé ...who knows?" Beata reports. Of course I went to CA right away, to see my new rival ;-)

Go to the expedition website for the rest of the story - about the first night onboard Luka, the Mikado 56' that finally seduced Tomek - and the long road before her maiden voyage around the world with Tomek, Wacek - and Beata at the keyboard back home.