Crackpot, dreamer or record breaker? American Reid Stowe puts to sea


Back in 2002 we reported on American sailor Reid Stowe and his plans to go to sea out of sight of land for 1,000 days, ‘longer than anyone ever has since our distant cousins first emerged from the primordial stew’. His boat was a 70 foot, 60 ton home-built schooner Anne. The current record is held by Jon Sanders who circumnavigated three times non-stop in 657 days.

Now it would have been easy to dismiss Stowe as a crank, particularly after he once spent six months at sea ‘taking the course of the other extreme ocean adventurer, a sea turtle hatchling, creating the largest conceptual art from across oceans and time zones’. But he does have an impressive sailing CV including cruises to Antarctica and the above ‘Odyssey of the Sea Turtle.’ And it takes more than a crank to be able to handle a heavy 70 foot gaff rigged schooner.

For five years Stowe stayed below the radar but on 20 April the news came in that he had finally set off on his cruise for 1,000 days without refuelling, re-supply and without putting into harbour. But this time he has a crew, Soanya Ahmad. Soanya had never sailed before.

At the time of writing the couple have been at sea for 25 days, far longer than many would have given them credit for. And they have had their share of dramas, including surviving a severe gale and being run down by a ship and losing their hefty steel bowsprit. But they are still going and to follow their adventures go to

But how, you might ask, are they going to survive for that long without re-supplying? Here Soanya gives a clue.

‘Rinsing the sprouts is one of my favorite tasks. It is one of the major consumers of our fresh water, but we don’t use more than a gallon on them per day. Our main beans are mung, fenugreek, and lentils with broccoli, clover, and alfalfa as luxuries. When the sprouts are doing well, as they are in this warm but temperate weather, they glow with health. There is also something miraculous about seeing a seed swell and transform into a plant, even if you’ve seen it in action over and over again. First the little tap root emerges, then tiny shoots come out signaling they’re ready to be eaten, and if left longer, the roots begin to multiply.We usually have a handful of each or whatever is ready which makes a surprisingly variegated salad. Then we add a little olive oil, and vinegar, maybe some soy sauce, or a dab of mayo (we don’t have much mayo) with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds or flax seeds. Dressings are fun to make and lend themselves to experimentation. If you grow sprouts, don’t forget, the dressing is part of the fun too.’

Picture shows Reid and Soanya by the repaired (shorter) bowsprit