The Teenage Solo Sailor Syndrome
For 11 years, I’ve resisted the urge to write about teenage circumnavigators. The last time I did, the protagonist was a young man named Brian Caldwell, the son of cruising sailors who, in 1998 at age 19, briefly held the title of youngest singlehanded circumnavigator. I probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure of knowing Brian, except that he happened to stop for repairs in Port Vila, Vanuatu, while my wife and I were there. His 26-foot Contessa was anchored a stone’s throw away from our Atkin ketch, and the story was too compelling to pass up. I filed a few more stories as Brian’s voyage unfolded, and then it was over. A few months later, a young Australian bumped Brian from the record books. Brian turned toward his next goal of ocean racing singlehanded (www.liquidflight.net), and I decided never again to write about "youngest" quests. The current wave of young circumnavigators—whose names I purposely won’t mention here—drove me to break that promise.