I SEE THAT ONE OF OUR LOCAL LADS is well on his way to claiming the title of the world’s most incompetent sailor. In 2013, Rinas Meleshyus, a Russian-born American, bought a decrepid old San Juan 24 racer in Oak Harbor, Washington, just down the road from me. Now, despite all the odds, he has arrived in Pago Pago, American Samoa, to hell and gone across the Pacific Ocean.
And he has maintained his record: he had to be towed into and out of every single port along the way.
His sorry exploits (including wrecking his first boat on the beach in Alaska) have generated about 6,000 responses in the Sailing Anarchy forum pages and split the sailing community in half, between those admire him for his sheer guts (and enable him to continue by sending him financial aid), and those who condemn his foolish persistence in the face of obvious incompetence and, seemingly, an inability or unwillingness to learn better seamanship.
Here is what “TQA,” a contributor to the Sailing Anarchy forum, had to say:
“The unbelieveable story rolls on. Rinas Meleshyus left Oak Harbor, Washington, in an old San Juan 24 he bought for $500 the month before.
“Have you ever wondered how far you could get if you set sail one day and drift out over the horizon? Well, he made it to Hawaii (towed in) with $28 and disintegrating rigging. Got fixed up and towed out.
“Somehow sailed/drifted back to San Francisco (towed in). Set off again (towed out). Sailed/drifted across the Pacific. I keep using the word drifted as the man cannot sail, except down-wind.
“Somehow he avoiding wrecking on any island (no charts) and got within 5 miles of Pago Pago but failed to sail in.
“Finally, someone organized a tow when he was 25 miles downwind.”
Meleshyus, 61, who says he wants to round Cape Horn solo, adds: “I want to raise money for children's research cancer and I am sailing under the American flag and I am very very proud to be doing this voyage.” But many accuse him of blatant panhandling.
His proposed route after leaving Oak Harbor, Washington, was, in his own words: “nonstop to Cape Horn-South America. From there 400 miles to the South Georgia Island-UK, Antarctica and stop to plant the American flag there and continue to the Cape Town-South Africa.”
Well, he obviously hasn’t made it to the Horn non-stop. It will be interesting to see how close he comes to completing the rest of his itinerary.
Mistakes are at the very base of human thought . . . feeding the structure like root nodules. If we were not provided with the knack of being wrong, we would never get anything useful done.
— Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail
“What’s all that noise in the clubhouse? Are they celebrating?”
“Yes, my wife did it in one.”
“Wow! She got a hole in one?”
“No, she hit the ball in one.”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)