He's humble, funny and makes it look easy, but don't kid yourself - Tomasz Lewandowski is the first Polish citizen and only the sixth sailor in the world who has successfully passed Cape Horn single handed against the wind... and survived. Image of Tomek and first ship mate Wacek courtesy of the voyage website.

Tomek and Wacek 'wrong-way' voyage update: To repel ghosts

Posted: Feb 20, 2008 05:17 am EST
(TheOceans.net) He's humble, funny and makes it look easy, but kid yourself not - Tomasz Lewandowski is the first Polish citizen and only the sixth sailor in the world who has successfully passed Cape Horn single handed against the wind... and survived.

This is a huge success for the Polish sailor, states the expedition website. His great predecessors are: Sir Chay Blyth (1971), Mike Golding (1994), Philippe Monnet (1989), Jean Luc Van Den Heede (2004) and Dee Caffari (2006) the only woman in the group.

Latest from the Captain is he caught a chicken, that is a seagull who took the bait Tomek had rigged for fishing. You guessed it; Tomek survived his on-board distillery, in fact he had the last sip on Valentines Day. "What a pointless death," he commented the poor bird's fate, and with that, here goes another of Tomek's signature stories:

"Yesterday after dinner I took a nap on the sofa and very distinctly heard a voice say, 'soon you will die'. And I thought well fuck it; this moment is as good as any, maybe even better, because now I am almost happy."

The vacation rental neighbor in Florida

"In certain cultures, such as the Roman and even a tribe of "black Jews" in Rwanda, some people of so-called success interrupt their life when it becomes obvious that they wont move any further up the ladder: they want nothing else besides what they already have, and from then on they start to slide."

"I heard a story like that from a vacation rental neighbor in Florida. He was from one such tribe, a well-educated ex banker disagreeing with the changing government in Rwanda."

"He threw a party and then hung himself: me, I have a new plan"

"He looked like a delicately built European, he had a narrow, slender nose and his face had features of a black Polish Hebrew. He told me about his grandfather, who owned great herds of cattle, had many wives and children. One day he organized a fiesta for the entire tribe, made a speech, then went to the forest and hung himself ... Heheh. The Romans settled this more elegantly; it's a matter of taste."

"I wonder what the evil voice wanted from me, whispering in my ear. I'm not on any top; I have a new great plan, better than sailing the world, and a multitude of unfulfilled desires, so at this moment, this voice cant count on any cooperation from my side."

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 (the ship dog) - and Beata at the keyboard back home.