If it is possible to make progress towards your goal, and yet lose ground at the same time, that’s what is happening to Fedor Konyukhov in the Southern Ocean. This week the Russian adventurer hit several milestones on his attempt to row around the world, not the least of which was passing the 10,000 km (6213 mile) mark. He has also now spent more than 133 days at sea, and while the coast of South America is inching closer, it may be more difficult than ever to reach his end point at Cape Horn. It also seems clear that the journey has taken a physical, mental, and emotional toll on the man, who now dreams of focusing on his work as an artist rather than pulling the oars.
The massive storms that had been battering Fedor’s position in recent weeks have subsided some, replaced with a steady stream of foul weather that consistently makes life hard. Konyukhov says that he can’t go outside of his small cabin these days without wearing a drysuit as the cockpit of his rowboat is constantly hit with splashing waves every minute or so. He also says that it is always snowing, sleeting, or raining now as well, with turbulent waves tossing his boat about. Still, he has made some progress towards the finish line and now sits roughly 1277 km (794 miles) from Cape Horn.
While the slow reduction of remaining miles is good news, the bad news is that a cold steady wind out of Antarctica has pushed Fedor and his boat further north. Over the past few days he has given up a 1.5 degrees of latitude, taking him from 53.5ºS to 52ºS instead. That means he’s lost 96 km (60 miles) of distance that he’ll have to make up at some point, so although he continues to travel east, he still needs to make his way south.
In his most recent news update Fedor shares some insights into his current situation and it sounds dire. So much so that much of the post is taken up with thoughts of the other things he wants to do with his life, including working on several paintings that he has been planning and casting bronze statues for a village back home. At one point, he even writes about a painting of John the Baptist that has been a project that he has wanted to complete for some time, saying ” I want to work hard, long hours on it, re-paint it and live by this painting for many years.”
Considering the challenges that Konyukhov has faced in the Southern Ocean, and the subtext to some of his updates of late, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to pull the plug on stage 2 and 3 of this journey. The original plan was to complete this crossing from New Zealand to Cape Horn this year. Then late in 2019 he would depart from Cape Horn and make his way to Australia, before returning to New Zealand in his rowboat next year. Right now however, it seems he would just like this stage of the trip to end so he can get back to his normal life. The crossing has taken much longer –– and has been much harder –– than he expected and no one can blame him for wanting to reach dry land again.
We’ll continue to keep a close eye on Fedor’s progress and provide regular updates. He still has a long way to go, but for now at least he is drawing closer to his goal.