What defines a true circumnavigation?

The "5 Capes" or "5 Oceans" is the traditional Clipper Ship "circumnavigation route" derived from the 17th century Brouwer Route.

Anything else to describe circumnavigation under sail is simply a modern day imposter or invention.

View attachment 341754
That route looks an uninteresting way around the globe to me. Crossing virtually every longitude in the Southern Ocean may be a fast route around the marble but you miss out so much of what makes a circumnavigation really interesting. 

 

Fiji Bitter

I love Fiji Bitter
4,572
1,376
In the wild.
That depends, on the left you 'allegedly' went past Cape Horn. On the right you're a poofter.  YMMV  :lol:
Indeed MMV's, just ask your wife!  B)

Traditionally, a sailor who had rounded the Horn was entitled to wear a gold loop earring in the ear which had faced the Horn, so the right ear for an East-West passage. Never been told one had to be homo as well, although abuse of the cabin boy may have been common during the long bash to windward.

 

Panoramix

Super Anarchist
For a cruiser to have bragging rights at the bar, I would say : sailed from his homeport, crossed all meridians and the equator at least once and came back home. Some will disagree, but I am not sure that I would include these people who sail their boat around the world while flying back home and everywhere regularly as obviously their main mean of transport in term of distance becomes the plane.

For a race or a record, @Mid definition is the correct one AFAIK.

For cyclists the "round the world trip" definition is even harder as some parts of it can't be cycled, I think that they say cross all meridians + the equator and cycled xxx kilometres (forgot the distance).

 

El Borracho

Verified User
6,837
2,794
Pacific Rim
For a cruiser to have bragging rights at the bar, I would say : sailed from his homeport, crossed all meridians and the equator at least once and came back home.
Crossing the equator only once is disqualifying, no? Means one started and ended in different home hemispheres? Or shipped the boat across? 

 

Bristol-Cruiser

Super Anarchist
4,895
1,457
Great Lakes
So a circumnavigation route definition can't be "commercially" or "race" course derived (NB. The Speed Council has circumnavigation course parameters for record making).

Therefore that only leaves "recreational". However recreational circumnavigators don't readily leave a trail, some take years even decades, stop and start etc so therefore don't really leave a basis to found a definition upon other than something atrbitary. However there maybe one exception.

There has been well over 200 single handed circumnavigations since the world's first, the 1895-98 circumnavigation by Joshua Slocum on Spray according to sources like  RKJ List of Solo Circumnavigators.  Majority of their courses incorporate 3 Capes, many 5 Capes and 4 or 5 Oceans and majority of at least one equator crossing.

Those numbers are all recreational (but incl of racing) however the course characteristics don't change. Some like Jon Sanders at the age of 81 is currently going around today for his 11th time. 

So if a circumnavigation definition is limited to a recreational foundation then the minimum course average for the "entire history" of mans solo circumnavigations being a minimum of 3 Capes, crossing all meridians of longitude and one equator crossing appears to have a very solid basis.
Jack, read what I posted before. I did not say that a race or clipper ship route would not be a circumnavigation, rather that the routes either might follow would not define a circumnavigation. I doubt that there would/could be any complete agreement on what a circumnavigation is. the key points/questions to be answered:

  • Outboud and inbound paths must cross - everyone would agree 
  • Course must cross every meridian - again complete agreement
  • Can use canals or not? - this is the big sticking point
  • Must cross the equator twice - not very clear really; what if someone crosses the equator and an hour later crosses back?; see next point
  • Must reach antipodean point - does this mean that if you left from 50°N 0° you must go to 50°S 180° (or south of this point) or is it good enough to get at least to 50°S at some point at 179°E or even 70°W say
  • Is the circumnavigation measured from the port you leave from or from the point where your paths cross?
  • Must go a certain distance at least equal to the circumference of the Earth (Mr Google says 21 639 nm)? This one seems pointless if other considerations are met
 

estarzinger

Super Anarchist
7,687
1,098
This all reminds me of the debate down in Puerto Williams about what constitutes a 'cape horn rounding'. Most 'casuals' count the 'daysail to the horn' as a rounding, while the 'serious' crowd do not count that.  The most strenuous historical definition seemed to be 'non-stop, east to west, 50s to 50s, carrying cargo'. . . . . .

but really why care about what others want to claim when there is no prize, just personal experience/challenge/achievement.

 

us7070

Super Anarchist
10,265
284
'non-stop, east to west


In the book Rounding the Horn, written by Dallas Murphy, I am pretty sure he says that the east to west, i.e. upwind.., rounding was the only one that "counted", back in the day...

according to Murphy, they didn't consider the downwind rounding to be a real rounding and didn't count it.

 

SloopJohnB

Super Anarchist
1,410
354
New Zealand
Whoever drew this map was either having fun or isn't a top geographer!
But he was correct on this map.

NZ Top Center.JPG

NZ top dead centre.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Fiji Bitter

I love Fiji Bitter
4,572
1,376
In the wild.
In the book Rounding the Horn, written by Dallas Murphy, I am pretty sure he says that the east to west, i.e. upwind.., rounding was the only one that "counted", back in the day...

according to Murphy, they didn't consider the downwind rounding to be a real rounding and didn't count it.
Not only back in the days. I bet those who did the east to west rounding would still say so, if only to piss off all those uppity Whitbread and Volvo sailors!

Downwind in a proper yacht is just too easy, upwind not so much. Ask @littlechay

 
Last edited by a moderator:

RATM

Anarchist
852
45
The SIs for the Jules Verne trophy are an example of this definition. It really is that simple

 

jack_sparrow

Super Anarchist
37,393
5,094
.....but really why care about what others want to claim when there is no prize, just personal experience/challenge/achievement.
That therein lies the problem.

There actually is a "prize" and the OP's question has sought information on the "rules" for securing that prize.

That prize is being inducted into the "Circumnavigation Club." It is open to all but an exclusive club where where those that are inducted are judged to have attained a standard involving skill and endurance as governed by the route of their sailing vessel. Personal achievement and experience aside, that is what humans do, they rank each others achievements.

The doors to this exclusive club were first opened in the early 16th century with the founding inductee being Ferdinand Magellan. From that very moment and like all clubs, rules and membership categories based on those measures of skill and endurance started to evolve as membership rises.

By the way to reference the obvious core circumnavigation Great Circle rule, Magellan's 90 ft long Victoria passed at least two "antipodes" (that automaticaly creates the minimum of 2 equator crossings and Equator/Long Meridian distance of 40,075 km) and where after Magellan died in SE Asia, his 2IC del Cano brought the ship back to her starting port. Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the right way as well as Cavedish, Van Noort, Dampier, Cowley, Woodes Rogers, Cliperton, Schouten, Anson, Cook, Krusenstern and many more.

IMG_20200120_112722.jpg

The Dutch East India ships opening trading with SE Asia in early 17th century were the first to adopt the traditional east west route as opposed to the Spanish and Portuguese following Magellan westward into the Pacific approach. Brouwer refining this route further utilising the roaring forties and shorter Great Circle distance of higher latitudes. They were the first Europeans to discover Australia by not turning left fast enough. A route then adopted and extended by the 19th century Clipper Ships to to circumnavigate at every voyage. 

View attachment 341822

As you can see this circumnavigation caper under the two "antipodes" circumnavigation rule, that Magellan had no understanding of, took off and revealing the far corners of the earth for the first time to Europeans.

GreatCircle (1).gif

The first club rule change was actually caused by the founding member's own infraction and that is the starting skipper has to finish and not die mid voyage. None the less Magellan's name still sits at top of the club's honour board. As an aside this start/finish rule was also adopted by the Everest Club, where Hillary & Tensing were inducted, not Mallory who preceeded them, but who is still up there somewhere and therefore no knowledge if he was successful or not.

In fact "inaugural" category member infractions and subsequent rule changes are a feature of this exclusive club. For instance the 1895-98 voyage by Joshua Slocum on "Spray" that created the "single handed" membership category. He set sail from Boston, Massachusetts and three years later returned to Newport, Rhode Island. The problem being unfortunately his finish fell short of the start, albeit by less than 100 mile. This brought about the club's start finish/rule, however like Magellan his name remains on the honour board. The club sensibly cuts inaugural inductees a bit of slack it appears.

images - 2020-01-19T120748.057.jpeg wp286a584c_05_06.jpg

Credits - Shipping Wonders of the World & Joshua Slocum International Society

Anyway as I said from Magellans induction  club rules and categories changed on account of the number of vessels circumnavigating increasing. 

In the 1800s shippers discovered that the better profit could be made by fast passages. First, the American-built wooden ships as Lightning and James Baines took emigrants to Australia and goods back. Later, the British built their own clippers like Thermopylae and Cutty Sark. Those could sail to Australia in 60 days, loaded ship and went back in 70 days, rounding the globe in 160 days. The circumnavigation speeds then started to be closely recorded and all around the Great Circle rule of two "antipodes" applying.

View attachment 341754

The most significant circumnavigation club rule change was in 1850 following the first successful circumnavigation by the small private British schooner the "Nancy Dawson." Thereafter club membership was restricted to "sailing yachts" only. This change was made to preserve the "exclusivity" of the club as a beacon for skill and endurance as opposed to those on large commercial sailing vessels circumnavigating under somewhat easier circumstances and with greater resources at hand.

Things were going along swimmingly at the club until the latter half of the 19th century when the Suez and Panama Canals were opened to cater for that increase in commercial traffic and the advent of the marine steam engine, reduction of voyage times and negating the need for routes being weather dependant. This created an uproar at the club as again it's "exclusivity" was threatened by those seeking to join without having travelled around the Horn or possibly even none of the Great Capes.

This canal transit issue came to a head at the club in 1895 when Joshua Slocum headed off to undertake the first "solo circumnavigation" nearly four centuries after the club's founding father Magellan but in the now traditional west to east direction, BUT also via the Suez Canal!!! This put the club's member nomination committee into a spin.

However upon leaving Boston and getting to Gibraltar, British Naval authorities warned Slocum of Moorish pirate activity in the Mediterranean. He then turned around and headed south west to round Sth America via the Straits of Magellan and follow the wake of the club's founder Magellan himself. This caused everyone at the club to breath a sigh of relief. Unfortunately that relief would not last long, in fact only 25 years.

It would take 40 years for Slocum's single handed circumnavigations feat inclusive of rounding Sth America to be repeated by Louis Bernicot in 1936 - 38. In fact it wasn't until Vito Dumas in 1947 for Sth America to be rounded solo via Cape Horn, not via the Straits of Magellan. However the club's problem of 25 years prior resurfaced. Starting with Harry Pidgeon in 1923 - 25 on his "Islander," four solo circumnavigations occured before Bernicots repeat of Slocum's route in 1939, BUT by them using the Panama and Suez Canals. The last one in 1937 which was Harry again and claiming an inaugural award of first "solo dual circumnavigation". Now this obviously was all quite apart from crewed circumnavigations occuring in a similar manner and in far greater number. Some inclusive of at least two Great Cape roundings and those taking a man-made shortcut and only securing one.

The club then made a fateful decision. It would still induct those that used man-made "canal transit assistance" but they would be recognised under a lower membership category.

However there were many in the club of the view that "canal transit assistance" did not qualify under the club's Constitution of "exclusivity" regarding measuring skill and endurance by the nature of the route employed. In fact their novel and compelling argument was that of "perception" amoungst the wider public. That being that a circumnavigation route surely involved extreme "remoteness' or traversing the "middle of nowhere." Being pulled by a steam locomotive through a ditch full of water they said would hardly measure up in the public's eyes.

Now to assist their argument there is actually a place called the "middle of nowhere" and it even has a scientific name, the "oceanic pole of inaccessibility,” or, more simply put, the point in the ocean that is "farthest away from land."

This place is more commonly called "Point Nemo," located in the South Pacific and only traversed by those circumnavigating via Cape Horn. The closest land masses being around 1,600 mile distant, Point Nemo may one day be a "real" Point as it is where the world's space junk is directed. If that shit builds up to the surface it will then sort of fuck up this "middle of nowhere" definition.

ES-AD-SATELLITE-LOCATOR-MAP-V3.jpg

Anyway "Canalies" as they became affectionately known were allowed to be inducted, albeit under the club's lowest member category to keep those members  opposed on side. Arguably in light of what occured next, their concerns maybe should have been given more weight. By the way the club are not alone in this regard. For instance the "climber assisted" line-up every summer at the foot of Mount Everest must make Mallory roll in his grave, if he had one.

Anyway Club membership soared particularly after the austerity of WWII, the availability of small marine auxiliary engines, production boat building, electronic navigation aids and the sport of sailing no longer being the sole domain of the upper classes. Incorporating the Panama Canal in the route was the norm on account of the expanding recreational boating populations of Europe and the US seaboard being upwind of the Panama Canal and the more traditional east to west weather routing linking the cruising grounds of the Caribbean and Sth Pacific either side of the canal. A far more pleasurable and direct route than venturing down to 40 South.

The next significant club rule change about circumnavigation routes was the advent of record breaking. Sir Francis Chichester was the first sportsman sailor in 1967 to circumnavigate for a speed breaking record on his 57' Gipsy Moth IV. He was inspired by Australian bound clippers, wanting to duplicate their route and break their record time. He also put beyond doubt a true measured circumnavigation as a route around two "antipodes". Actually his record setting solo sailing one stop route passed "two pairs" of "antipodes". If somebody else wanted to break his record, they now had to follow an already set rule.

Solo nonstop circumnavigation then took off. The 1968 a Golden Globe trophy the first for the first and the fastest nonstop solo circumnavigation. However the rules did not required "antipodes" but became prescriptive, setting the race course around the Cape of Good Hope, Cape  Leeuwin and Cape Horn and with a more flexible start and finish in any port north of  40 degree North, which then "automatically" set the the antipodes route. The first crewed race using a set start, course, stopovers and set finish was the Whitbread Race in 1974.

As a guide to how solo racing/record breaking played a part in the publics perception today of what constitutes a true circumnavigation and which happens to be based on southern Clipper Ship routes is the following. In the 70 years between Slocum and Chichester there were approximately two dozen solo circumnavigations. Of those nearly three quarters were "canal transit" assisted. Today the majority of solo circumnavigations are of the Clipper Ship/ 5 Great Capes/5 Oceans variety. In the 50 years following Chichester that number has increased more than 10 fold.

This has led to today where circumnavigation club membership categories include crewed, solo, short handed, with and without stopovers, multiple circumnavigations plus various racing and record chasing mono and multihull categories etc. Then overlying those, routes involving canal transits and a less demanding passage to circumnavigations based on the number of Great Capes rounded to closer define more demanding passages in higher latitudes.

The membership category of "Canal Transit Assisted" enjoys the largest and an immeasurable number of inductees, "Solo Great Capes" the smallest numbering around 250. In fact more people have been put into space than solo circumnavigated.

So to conclude belonging to the Circumnavigation Club is really no different to being a member of a golf club. There are  some that can play golf and on average courses and some that play extraordinary golf usually on extraordinary courses. The latter limited in number you see on TV and read about, the former you don't. However both are still golf and hopefully a satisfying experience.

So to the OP's question of what is the "rule" about circumnavigation routes?  Well like  the golf analogy the return question is, how many holes, 9 or 18 and is there a handicap advantage employed? 

PS. If any you pricks want to put this post up for the daily Bruce Hudson Award, forget it, I've already claimed it.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Bristol-Cruiser

Super Anarchist
4,895
1,457
Great Lakes
Couple of thoughts come to mind. I have always wondered why Magellan is credited with the first circumnavigation since he only went from Spain to Patagonia. Shouldn't the credit go to his #2 and the small number of his crew who survived the journey. Second thought, and to mind this is the picking of nits, the latitude of London is about 51.5°N. I would imagine that many clipper voyages did not reach 51.5 ° S, i.e. they did their Southern Ocean passage in the forties. Of course, they may have crossed paths somewhere south of London making the point moot.

Never heard of the Circumnavigation Club. Could be like Groucho Marx. Would I want to be member of a club that would have me as a member? As to the number of canalies, the number is not really that large. When we did it no one was going via the Red Sea. It was the year after the Quest incident. The number of boats in South Africa who had come from Panama and were going to North/South America or Europe to complete a circumnavigation or were coming from Australia/NZ on the way to Panama was in the range of 75 to 100. A really good way to find out exactly how many boats there are is to ask at the Royal Cape YC and the Victoria and Albert Waterfront in Cape Town. The South Africans require that you clear the country in CT in one or other place. 

We met only one boat going west. He was headed to Perth which was his home port. He had come from the US.

 

jack_sparrow

Super Anarchist
37,393
5,094
Couple of thoughts come to mind. I have always wondered why Magellan is credited with the first circumnavigation since he only went from Spain to Patagonia. Shouldn't the credit go to his #2 and the small number of his crew who survived the journey.....

..Never heard of the Circumnavigation Club. Could be like Groucho Marx. Would I want to be member of a club that would have me as a member?...
Phillipines not Patagonia? Mate that Magellan credit thing where he didn't make it back to where he started by dropping dead you will have to take up with the Club President from that time. However as he died around 1550 that could be a challenge. Also maybe fruitless bloody lot of history books to rewrite. Anyway most publications also credit el Carno the guy who drove her home ie even marked in above map.

Like Monaco Yacht Club, Circumnavigation Club is very exclusive, they don't even list membership fee because if you need to ask you can't afford it. Though in the Circumnavigation Clubs case at least your nomination can't be black-balled by Prince Albert.

The first club rule change was actually caused by the founding member's own infraction and that is the starting skipper has to finish and not die mid voyage. None the less Magellan's name still sits at top of the club's honour board.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

jack_sparrow

Super Anarchist
37,393
5,094
Second thought, and to mind this is the picking of nits, the latitude of London is about 51.5°N. I would imagine that many clipper voyages did not reach 51.5 ° S, i.e. they did their Southern Ocean passage in the forties. Of course, they may have crossed paths somewhere south of London making the point moot.
Cossover. The St Helena High pushes them west onto Arg/Brazil coast both inbound and outbound.

 
Last edited by a moderator:


Latest posts



Top