Q&A With Jimmy Cornell About the Blue Planet Odyssey
The Blue Planet Odyssey, Jimmy Cornell's latest undertaking, is an around-the-world rally that is focused on raising awareness of the effects of global climate change. See Jimmy at the Strictly Sail Chicago boat show on Saturday, January 26th at 4:45 pm.
CW: With so many different jumping off points and possible routes, are there times and points during the journey when all the fleet will come together?
JC: Indeed there are. The first will be in the Eastern Caribbean, where boats that had started from Europe, the U.S. East Coast, Cape Town, and Rio de Janeiro will come together for the first time and will be joined later in Panama by those that started from Miami. Tahiti will be the place where the main route will be joined by boats which started from the U.S. or Canadian west coast. The major point of concentration will be Singapore, where the northern and southern routes will merge.
CW: Speaking of the fleet, how many sailboats do you think will participate?
JC: Initially we were aiming at 40 to 50, but from the response so far there seem to be so many sailors that identify with the aims of the Blue Planet Odyssey, that we shall have to find a way of accommodating a much larger number.
CW: I know this is being organized as an around-the-world event, but are there shorter circles voyagers can take?
JC: Because there is such an interest from sailors that wish to sail the entire route, I doubt if we shall be able to accommodate shorter options. However, there may be a very attractive option once we reach the Mediterranean but that has yet to be confirmed.
CW: This being a year and a half before the first sail’s raised, what do you envision will be some of the standout events during the rally?
Undoubtedly calling at some of the endangered islands, some of which happen to be rarely visited, such as Tokelau or the Andamans. For the northern route it will probably be the transit of the Northwest Passage.
CW: Let’s talk about specifics for a minute, what sort of services will Odyssey organizers be providing to participants? Will there be safety guidelines? Route planning? Weather services? Help with clearing in and out of the various countries?
JC: A whole range of logistical support and services: free port, marina, and docking charges at each scheduled start and finish, transit and agents fees for the Panama and Suez Canals, the cost of cruising permits, light dues, and other charges such as overtime and other fees payable to customs, immigration, and quarantine officials when clearing in or out of scheduled ports. There will be routing and weather information for each leg as well as tracking of the individual boats, and their location being shown in real time on our website. As on previous occasions, there will be welcome and prize-giving parties, and various social activities in the scheduled ports. In the run up to the start there will be preparatory seminars for participants as well as personal briefings at all major boat shows.
CW: For those who choose some of the more challenging routes, I’m thinking of the Northwest Passage, for example, what will be the role of the organizers?
JC: Participants who intend to sail that route will be briefed on all safety aspects, as their boats need to be thoroughly equipped, and will be inspected that they confirm with the safety requirements. With safety being uppermost in our mind, we shall ensure that we have plenty of time for the transit itself as in that part of the world being able to wait for favorable conditions is absolutely essential. We shall therefore have access to the latest weather information and are also being advised by other sailors who have transited in recent years.
CW: Speaking of the Northwest Passage, what happens if current trends reverse and the passage remains ice blocked?
JC: The 2014 Northwest Passage timing has been scheduled in such a way that if conditions in summer and early autumn for a transit of the Northwest Passage are considered to be unfavorable or dangerous, the timing will allow for the route to be amended so that participants will be able to sail south from Iceland and Southern Greenland to the U.S. East Coast. They will then have the choice of joining the New York or Miami starts that will merge with the main route in either the Eastern Caribbean or Panama.
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