Latitude 38 has featured Webb Chiles before — the intrepid singlehanded sailor and author has circumnavigated the globe five times under sail and is now in the final stages of preparing for an epic journey around the world in his flush-decked Moore 24 Gannet. We caught up with Webb in San Diego this week to get the latest info on his sailing plans, boat preparations and departure.
An eternally youthful Chiles beamed with pride of ownership and enthusiasm for his little grey Moore 24 as he showed off all of the unique mods that he’s done to make Gannet more suited for long-range solo sailing. Starting at the bow, Webb’s installed a removable carbon-fiber bowsprit for use with a furling assymmetrical spinnaker. Working sails consist of a roller-furling jib and user-friendly mast track and reefing system. Powered completely by flexible solar panels mounted flush to the deck, Webb’s boat has opted to rely solely on electric tiller pilots and does not carry a wind vane. Things are kept just as minimal and tidy down below, with the stock Moore 24 layout of two pipe berths and two mini nav stations.
Now back in Illinois with his (sixth) wife Carol, the 72-year-old plans to return to San Diego in early May, make last minute preparations, and leave for Hilo, Hawaii. From Hawaii, Webb plans to make one long passage to French Polynesia, and then another long passage to his second home of Opua, New Zealand. He will not be stopping at all of the idyllic islands along the way. After all, he’s been to French Polynesia seven times. After New Zealand, Webb’s route is still up in the air. Says Webb, “I don’t have any doubt that a Moore 24 can survive a tradewind circumnavigation. Can it survive the Southern Ocean? Well, I’m going to spend 6,000 or 7,000 miles figuring that out, and then decide whether to head for Cape Horn or for Australia.”
We’ll run the interview and a feature on Webb Chiles in the May issue of Latitude 38 just before he sets off.