Zealand and Salvador Brazil. When the wind gets above 40 knots, the waves start to heap up and you can’t go as fast.

“I found the Indian Ocean to be the most dangerous. Leaving the Cape of Good Hope, you encounter the Agulhas Current. In a previous race, two boats rolled in the area. One—I think it was a modified Swan 44—pitchpoled two times. You want to get past the Cape and into deeper water. However, heading east towards New Zealand, you first pass the Crozet Islands and then the Kerguelen Islands. These lie in shallow waters and you can have some horrendous seas building there.”

After 148 days at sea alone, Brad triumphantly sailed into Newport, Rhode Island, and into sailing history. He had arrived a full three weeks ahead of his nearest competitor.


On the west coast of Alaska, south of Valdez, destination of oil tankers, is a mountain called Mount Fairweather. Not far from it is a beautiful, secluded bay called Lituya; more about that later. This is the area swept by the Alaska Current as it curls northwest from Vancouver and then streams west along the Aleutian Island chain. It is an area of unsurpassed fishing grounds, prolific in its production of salmon and other species. It is also unsurpassed in the spawning of storms characterized by high winds and giant waves. It became the site of an incredible rescue in horrendous seas.

Fishing is a dangerous occupation—certainly in these waters, far more dangerous than coal mining or almost any other hazardous employment. At the same time, the area between Sitka and Anchorage is one of spectacular natural beauty—sharply rising mountain ranges, crystalline blue water beneath the edges of glaciers, bald eagles perched in treetops overlooking isolated coves. During the summer months, you would be hard-pressed to find any area of the world more beautiful, and during the winter months, any place with deadlier weather. Dense, cold air created near the tops of the high mountains along the coast settles down long valleys toward the sea, creating sudden, unpredictable, tumultuous winds—williwaws—that blast out into the ocean. Storms blow in from the Bering Sea or arise in the Gulf of Alaska,

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