One-half of amateur sailing duo gets seasick and jumps ship from voyage
An amateur sailor’s plan for a record-breaking 1,000-day ocean voyage was sunk Thursday when she jumped ship – because she felt seasick.
Soanya Ahmad, who had never been aboard a boat before meeting shipmate and boyfriend Reid Stowe five years ago, was due to bail out at 2 a.m., only 306 days into the odyssey.
Stowe will continue on alone, but his shipmate’s decision ended his plans to stay out of sight of land until his schooner reaches New York harbor in 2010.
“He’s frustrated, I would say he’s not particularly happy with developments,” said Joe Barello, a member of the trip’s New York-based support team.
“But he’s going to take care of his friend, do the right thing, and then continue with his dream.”
Ahmad, 24, from Queens, and Stowe set sail from Hoboken, N.J., last April aboard a schooner called the Anne.
She has wanted off the boat for five weeks, said Barello. It took this long to make the arrangements. She was due to be picked up 11 miles off the coast of Rottnest Island, near Australia, by members of a Perth-based sailing club.
“They’re not going to go to port, but they will be within sight of land,” Barello conceded. “They wanted to do it further out, but there are some strong gale-like winds.”
Efforts to reach Ahmad by satellite phone yesterday were unsuccessful. Writing on a blog from the schooner, she said, “The past three months have been especially rough for me as we entered the Southern Ocean.
“I’m still prone to feeling horrible on and off. I feel two more years of this would not be good for me.”
“I felt really sorry for her,” said Stowe, 56. “I felt she did the best she could.”
The voyage aims to beat the record for the longest ongoing sea voyage – currently held by Australian Jon Sanders who sailed for 657 days. Sanders is a member of the Perth club carrying out the rescue.
Stowe and Ahmad’s trip has been criticized by many other sailors who consider it ill-conceived, dangerous and irresponsible.
“Everyone … no matter how critical they’ve been about the cruise, is expressing relief that she’s off the boat,” said “Regatta Dog,” a member of Internet-based sailing group Sailing Anarchy.
“She had only experienced day sailing on the Hudson River. That she didn’t realize she was prone to seasickness shows how little Reid had prepared her for the trip.”
Barello said her decision has given rise to “mixed feelings.”
“Soanya’s happy to be getting off the boat and not being constantly seasick,” he said. “But they’ve been through a lot together and she’s upset about not being able to participate anymore.”
BY ADAM NICHOLS