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Jean-du-Sud: Catch this if you can

Thanks to a voracious consumption of sailing narratives during my first five years of boat ownership, was aware of Yves Gélinas, the Canadian single-hander who took Jean-du-Sud, an Alberg 30, around the world the wrong way in 1982-83. Last night, I finally saw the film he shot of this epic trip. Despite a rather kludgy quasi-dubbing in English...always opt for sub-titles, kids!...this documentary "logbook" of his Southern Ocean voyage is almost lyrical in its evocation of the joys and dangers of facing the Southern Ocean alone in a small boat.

This works surprisingly well, and also tracks incoming Luftwaffe bombers
Gélinas is an engaging, personable presence in the film, which features episodes of him directly addressing a presumably locked-up 16 mm camera as open ocean swells lurch beyond in the small. bright rectangle of companionway behind him. Gélinas is quite open, however, about the physical exhaustion, stores depletion and serious wear and tear a small boat and her lone crew can endure. Luckily, Gélinas was a pretty skilled and inventive cameraman, and many of his shots are of the "how did he get that?" variety. A point of interest for me is that I was taking a film course at this period and knew the challenges of shooting film at sea. I was amused to see that the British depth sounder he is seen using at one point is the same model I still have working (as a backup!) on Valiente, a boat of similar vintage I would never consider taking around the world, despite its other qualities, which may include in an unknown spot a pint of transducer castor oil, whatever that is.

Now available with baggywrinkle!

At one point off the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, Jean-du-Sud is dismasted and one big difference between now and 30 years ago is that Gélinas is connected to shore only with SSB radio. For days he is out of contact, his probably grim fate speculated upon by the newspapers of the time. Yet we see the solo sailor reach shore with a jury rig, eventually repairing the damage to his boat and finishing his circ. Of course, only purists or Luddites would today fail to leave without a satphone, EPIRB, SPOT Messenger or other means of, if not rescue, alerting authorities and loved ones back home of one's situation. Gélinas had to pull apart his radio to dry out the relays. His cleverness didn't end there, but rather than spoil the film for potential viewers, let's just say I picked up a useful tip for how to use my sextant...yeah, I still use a sextant.

Not big, but big enough to be found with a sextant in 1982.

Gélinas' film, if you can't get it at a library or see it at a boat club, is available for download or on DVD, etc. I highly recommend it, and found it quite inspirational in a modest way. If you want a foretaste, here's the raw footage of a 2010 interview he gave at a boat show.

He looks pretty good! Canada should know more about his achievements.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Saudações! Conselhos muito úteis neste particular post!
É o muda pouco que produzem o maior mudanças.
Obrigado por compartilhar!