Norway to Georgia: continuous track
Norway to Georgia by windsurfer: FINAL LEG of continuous track.
Sailed/paddled continuous, solo, unsupported.
Hopa: last port of exit in Turkey - to Batumi: port of entry in Georgia is 18nm.
The wind is too light for upwind sailing to yield useful result. With continual pumping a marginally more respectable angle can be achieved, but it is exhausting and not a strategy for the long haul.
Paddling at least renders a return. Though each curl of chop slaps the bow and vibrates through board and legs. Rest brings negative progress. Do not rest. Stick with it. Stay in the game. Be ready for the opportunity.
At the border the Georgian coastguard clock me. I can’t just ditch short now. Wind threatens and various times I switch to sailing mode, but each time is premature.
A few miles into Georgia the wind finally stops. The sea gradually flattens. Tall buildings visible since yesterday draw nearer. Sweat drips from my nose from the exertion.
A texture descends upon the smooth water: a breeze from behind. I release the sail from paddling mode and bring the butterfly to life. Rowing air instead of water brings more speed and uses alternative muscles. Pump… Pump… Pump…
The breeze fades towards sunset. Level with the city, 9? 10? hours in, still hauling scoops of the near-still air, I know I've made it. Briefly there is a something emotional alongside the relentless effort. I thrust a clenched fist skyward; pump the sail with newfound energy and enjoy the cramp that bites. From here it is won. The coast bends; the air becomes motionless. A glassy sea follows me into Batumi port. I glide the last metres under paddle.
Russia to Russia was not achieved and was never realistically viable. Round Europe will always be a fuzzy objective. I guess I did that. This uninterrupted part of the journey comes in at approximately double the distance of the existing official World’s Longest Windsurf.
Now comes a ferry ride to Ukraine, to bypass the contentious north-east corner of the Black Sea. The route to sail then takes in Romania and Bulgaria. Then it will be time to trace a route back to the Arctic, by bicycle.
It is early for reflection, but one reason for the journey was to draw attention to just how small our world is. Europe seemed big until I sailed the coastline. With a bit of dedication and good luck to stay safe, anyone with the good fortune to be able-bodied could circumnavigate the planet.
Our ancestors knew this when they established the trade routes or went on pilgrimages. We invented aeroplanes – time machines – to move around the planet as if by magic, but we lost touch with how places are connected: how A to *anywhere else* is just a series of small hops.
Our planet is TINY.
Many - perhaps hundreds – of times on this journey I have passed a headland and joked with myself *What’s the point?!* For me it was curiosity. But why did I bother writing tens of thousands of words in blog posts?
These questions need longer answers. But - fundamentally - wouldn’t it be great if the us/them barriers became less entrenched, and we worked together as humanity to respond to the actual situation of our tiny planet becoming less sustaining of life, and do all we can to avert the insufficient response scenarios and horrific fallout that ensues.
If you have enjoyed following this journey and were thinking about donating to WWF - perhaps now would be a good time. More important though it to become vocal and active, to engage others, to demand immediate action on the climate crisis at the EURO ELECTIONS 23 May. That would be a bigger deal. Reject insular thinking. Get to ballot box and make it count. That's a minimum responsibility. I'll be voting by proxy.
Please click like, share, and encourage others to demand changes to protect our beautiful planet.
Unashamedly I use one of my favourite pictures to accompany this post. The barrel has been with me since 2015 – around the British and now European coastlines. Inside the barrel is my niece Alba. For Albas everywhere: demand action NOW.