The Pirate and I made one of our regular forays to the Newport Yacht Club one afternoon to sip some cocktails, catch the cool ocean breeze and watch the sunset. However, we never made it to the balcony for the breeze or the setting sun, we stayed planted on our bar stools captivated by the stories of our new friend Rory. Rory stood out amongst the local crowd with his thick Australian accent. He was visiting Newport as part of the Jester Challenge 2010, a singlehanded sailing race that departs from Plymouth UK and ends in Newport, RI. Rory sailed his own boat, Cooking Fat, in the race and did very well, finishing second ahead of boats twice his size.
As we talked with Rory we became more and more fascinated by his story and wanted to share it with you. He began sailing at the young age of 5 with his parents. When he turned 21, he decided to go after his dream of sailing around the world. He built himself a boat in a barn in his small town. Due to the financial constraints of a 21 year old, the boat he initially envisioned creating ended up being a bit smaller. The finished product was a very seaworthy and compact 21 foot catamaran that was splashed in 1991 and has been sailing the oceans of the world ever since.
Rory has also attained a world record of having sailed the smallest catamaran to ever circumnavigate the globe. We were fortunate enough to get a quick tour of Cooking Fat (it doesn’t take long, it is tiny!) while it was docked in Newport. It wasn’t until we stood on it that we truly realized how small it is. The tiniest movement or step sends the boat rocking; we can only imagine what large waves do to her. Fitting inside the hull requires flexibility and a bit of a contortionist’s skill. You must lower yourself in with your arms (like lowering yourself down a manhole, only a tighter squeeze). Once inside, you basically have two position choices- lay on your back or lay on your side. Cajun went inside to get a feel of it and found it sort of felt like lying inside a tanning bed. Neatly stacked in each hull are all the essential items for sailing across the world- two liter bottles of water, rolled up charts, first aid kits, canned goods, anchors, flashlights, etc, etc. Most of Rory’s time aboard Cooking Fat is spent outside on deck exposed to the elements and navigating her to his next destination.
It is hard to imagine just what Rory has been through in his years on the sea aboard Cooking Fat. He has seen the world from a very unique perspective. He has sailed into some amazing and exotic harbors in the South Pacific, witnessed some breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in many different time zones, suffered through many a sleepless night in stormy seas and accomplished his dream tenfold. He has also discovered things about himself that only the solitude of months alone on a boat can teach you. In talking to him, one is immediately aware of his profound inner peace.
We spent a few afternoons at the Yacht club getting to know Rory and peppering him with questions about sailing, trying to learn from his experiences and wisdom. We watched him sail off again, heading back home to England, another long passage aboard Cooking Fat. Fair winds Rory!
To read more about Rory, check out his website- www.roryandcookie.com