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: Will catamarans and composite (i.e. fiberglass) boats allowed on the Northwest Passage leg?
JC: We have spoken to a leading catamaran boat builder who has expressed his concern at the risk posed to composite hulls by needle ice, a feature of melting bergs. Some participants are having their hulls reinforced in the bows and along other critical areas. We are treating each case individually before we decide whether to allow a boat to tackle that route or not. So far we have had no interest from catamaran oweners. As to the building material itself, of course it would be preferable for it to be metal, but we do not intend to object to composite hulls as such, provided they are well built, and the owner is fully aware of the risk involved. I must point out that we had two fiberglass boats sail with the Millennium Odyssey to Antarctica, where conditions are similar, and neither suffered more than superficial, cosmetic, damage.
CW: What are your plans for transiting some of the notable hotspots for piracy, particularly in the Indian Ocean?
JC: Bear in mind that there have been no incident involving cruising boats for the last year, and even attacks on commercial ships have virtually ceased in that area. But we are talking about sailing through that area more than three years in the future, and while we are obviously keeping that area under constant observation, any decision will need to be taken nearer the time. However, and not just in that part of the world, because of safety concerns, logistical or political considerations, some countries or stopover ports on the proposed route may have to be avoided and the route and schedule amended accordingly. The proposed route is planned to transit the North Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and Mediterranean but if the situation in that area is considered not to be safe, the route will be amended to reach the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Cape of Good Hope. There is also another fallback scenario but it would be premature to discuss or disclose its details now.
CW: What can participants expect to do at the various landfalls? Will there be organized events, or is the idea to have a more loosely organized schedule and let cruisers discover things on their own?
JC: There will be some of both. In certain areas, there will be free cruising periods between arrival in a scheduled port and departure from the next scheduled port.
CW: Of course everyone’s sailboats and lifestyles are different, but do you have a ballpark budget for what this Odyssey might cost the average husband and wife cruiser, with say a well-found 40- to 50-foot sailboat?
JC: The entry fee for a boat that size with a crew of two will be about $28,000.
CW: And what about your own plans? Weren’t you going to sail in the Blue Planet Odyssey yourself?
JC: Of course I would like to, and sail the Northwest Passage, ideally in a new boat… but let’s leave this for the moment as that could be the subject for another interview!
CW: Ultimately, what do you hope comes from the Blue Planet Odyssey?
JC: I hope that both us as organisers and those who sail in this unique event will have made at least a small contribution to raise awareness of the serious dangers faced by our planet if nothing is done. We also hope that by visiting some of the endangered places we will show our solidarity for communities whose livelihoods are most at peril and make them understand that cruising sailors are concerned about their fate.
For more information about the Blue Planet Odyssey, visit http://www.blueplanetodyssey.com/. Planning to attend the Strictly Sail Chicago (Jan. 24-27, 2013) boat show? Jimmy will be speaking about the Odyssey on Saturday, Jan. 26th at 4:45 pm.