Double Edged Sword
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Double Edged Sword

Double Edged Sword

Double Edged Sword

Of all the places I as going to pass through, I was looking forward to the stretch of ocean between Prince Edward and the Crozet Islands the most. It is also one of the areas I am most anxious to leave.

I wanted to be here as it was in the waters south of these islands where Capt. James Cook made one of his most important discoveries and contributions to science and geography. Cook, by ranging north, south, east, and west most all the time below 45 South in the southern Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans finally put to rest the idea of a Great Southern Continent. His orders for his second expedition were just that. Find it or don’t.

Up until that time, there were far more proponents sure of the existence of a great land mass in the south than those opposed. Moreover, those for were powerful, influential members of the aristocracy, clergy, and scientific community not to mention the President of the
Royal Society itself, Lord Alexander Dalyrmple. Cook made few friends with his non-discovery, among them Dalyrmple.

In the end, Cook’s meticulous adherence to his orders, astounding hydrographic and surveying skills, and dogged determination and perseverance won the day. There was no great Southern Continent and in a very short period of time after Cook’s return and presentation to the Royal Society the idea became unfashionable. His enemies, sensing which way the wind was blowing, became allies chief among them none other than Dalyrmple.

The photo shows my track along 40S, well north of where Cook ranged. The map above my chart shows Cook’s tracks in the waters south of me now.

It is astonishing to know that Cook ranged about here as he did. Even more so when one stops to think about the ships he sailed in and the food, clothing, medicines, and navigation technologies of his time. Not to mention the weather. For me, being here now, what he was able to do seems impossible.

To put it to numbers, Cook was the first to be at both 70 degrees South and North. The next to do so came more than a century later.

To put it to names, Cook was awarded the Copley Medal for his efforts and thereby placed in the company of the likes of Sir Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin.

I have sailed in the tracks of Cook in the North and South Pacific. But here, in the Indian Ocean, it is especially humbling. Even more so because I cannot wait to quit the place and return to a more friendly, forgiving ocean.

Follow my tracks in real-time:


  • BT
    Posted at 10:41h, 02 July Reply

    Bert, you are amazing! Following you progress and posts with great admiration for you courage and wishing / willing you success. You are on the downhill run now. All the best from an Aussie follower BT ( 2 degrees of separation from your Uncle Joe).

  • Sandi Lyon
    Posted at 03:20h, 06 July Reply

    That looks about right. When it’s hot out in the ocean, its foggy and wet on the Wet Coast. That means you’re on the right track, heading the right direction. Finally. Woohoo.

  • Anita Kuntz
    Posted at 00:10h, 08 July Reply

    Following you journey and am truly amazed.

  • Suzan Persons
    Posted at 15:43h, 09 July Reply

    What an amazing journey!!

  • Karin Hill
    Posted at 15:27h, 13 July Reply

    Been following you for a couple of months now. What an amazing journey! Your blog is insightful and humorous. Almost home. Safe travels!

  • MountainJack
    Posted at 19:52h, 14 July Reply

    Has to be an amazing feeling to be so near home, Bert.

    Have spent months at sea “steaming”, not sailing, gaining my sea legs with the constant motion just became second nature. Getting back to a stable platform at dockside or over on the beach left me wobbly for a day or two. Cannot imagine how you’ll feel after a year of hardly ever being stable. There is that other thing having been on your own for that long; the familiarity of constant aloneness , the feeling of approach avoidance, being forced back into humanity. Might feel as though you could just extend a little bit more and savor the experience just a little longer…naw, probably not.

    Welcome back home, Bert. You’ve completed one heck of a feat.

  • Arthur Oliver
    Posted at 04:33h, 15 July Reply

    Getting oh so close. What’s the ETA?

  • estelle C whiddon
    Posted at 02:58h, 16 July Reply

    Bert, your homecoming Saturday will be a joyous occasion! I have followed the voyage daily and hope your arrival home brings much joy.

  • Peter Jungschaffer
    Posted at 07:19h, 18 July Reply

    This has been so great. Thank you!!!

  • BT
    Posted at 09:50h, 18 July Reply

    Hi Bert, you are just a few hours away from home. We are cheering for your most successful journey. We are especially amazed at the sailing conditions below Australia and New Zealand, as we can have some very big polar blasts hit us at this time of the year. Cannot imagine what it was like to sail through that type of weather. Can only take of hats off to you I amazement. Hope that you make it to Oz for a visit. What a wonderful achievement you have accomplished. /bt

  • Antonio Corbelletta
    Posted at 16:15h, 18 July Reply

    Congratulations! What an adventure! Well done. I have enjoyed tracking your voyage everyday just wish I would have know about it earlier, from the beginning.

  • Suzan
    Posted at 18:13h, 18 July Reply

    Yeahhhhhhhhh Bert!!! You have done it!!!
    Happy Homecoming – And stay safe!!!
    It isn’t the same world that you left!!
    I’m going to miss reading your travels and your adventures!! But thrilled that you’re home (almost) safe and sound!!
    Next trip around the world, hope that you’ll stop along the way and post your photos of the locals and the ports!!

  • Raegan Elford
    Posted at 19:23h, 18 July Reply

    Soldier who has logged more sea time than this Navy sailor.
    What an incredible accomplishment (the journey vice logging more sea time than I)

  • Marianne Scott
    Posted at 18:25h, 19 July Reply

    Congratulations on your accomplishment! I guess we will have to put up a plaque commemorating your voyage on the Victoria Harbour wall.

    Hope to see you this week.

    Marianne Scott

  • Tom Cory
    Posted at 07:40h, 23 July Reply

    Congradulations Bert from Annapolis MD. A Great Adventure.

  • Mark
    Posted at 12:24h, 29 July Reply

    I don’t think that anyone that attended Estevan Junior High could have imagined that this was in the future for one of it’s students. I checked in at different legs of the journey and was fascinated every time. Congrats!

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