time kent
Questions and Answers

Q: I have two questions!
1. Did you ever consider turning around during your journey?
2. Did you encounter dangerous animals (sharks, whales, etc.) at any point of your journey?
—Vanessa W., 13, Pennsylvania

Tim: No, I have never considered turning around. Even when things are tough, I remember that the point of this race is to overcome difficult obstacles, so I keep going! I have seen some whales, but no sharks. One of my competitors, Brad Van Liew, ran into a whale yesterday! It stopped his boat completely! Adult whales weigh a lot more than this boat, so we don't want to hit them, but sometimes they sleep just below the surface with just their blowhole exposed, so you can't see them.

Q: Did you have to sail through the Bermuda Triangle? If so what happened to you while you were there? What is the hardest part of sailing around the world?
—Christopher S., 13, Pennsylvania

Tim: We will sail through the Bermuda Triangle on the last leg of the race. I don't think that anything bad will happen then! So far, the two hardest things about sailing around the world have been repairing all the things that have gone wrong with the boat, and being away from my two wonderful daughters, who are 10 and 8.

Q: Were you alone during the holidays? If so, what did you do to celebrate during your voyage?
—Julio C., 9, Wisconsin

Tim: Yes, I was alone for Christmas and New Year's. I had a party on Christmas. I decorated the navigation station, put on a Santa hat, and opened the presents that my family and friends sent to me. I also videotaped the whole thing. On New Year's Eve, I drank a little champagne and reflected on how lucky I am to be able to do this race.

Q: Why do you think you're so interested in this sport of sailing? Oh, and by the way, when was this sport invented?
—Catherine N., 10, Wisconsin

Tim: I love sailing because I love being on the water. Sailing solo like this is a real challenge personally. To be able to do your best in the face of adversity is a wonderful way to test your knowledge and your ability to deal with a whole lot of different kinds of problems. This race [Around Alone] is 20 years old. It can be traced back to the OSTAR (Observer Newspaper's Singlehanded Transatlantic Race).

Q: Have you been able to see any wildlife in the ocean? Are you able to hear them at night?
—Liz G., 10, Illinois

Tim: There are birds everywhere out here. Down in the Southern Ocean, where I am now, huge birds called albatross follow the boat day and night, as well as lots of smaller birds. I have seen lots of dolphins, a few whales, and some sea turtles.

Q: Hi, Tim! Aren't you afraid something will happen while you are sleeping? By the way, you're very brave!
—Nicole Z., 11, California

Tim: Thanks! I don't think that I am all that brave! I do worry a bit about something happening while I am resting. If I am close to land where there are a lot of boats, I don't sleep a lot, and when I do, it's just for short periods of time. If I have to sleep where I think there may be ships, I use my radar alarm to wake me if a ship comes near.

Q: Dear Mr. Kent,
We are following you in our classroom, and now we have made a map with sailboats so that we can follow you and the other sailors. We have a couple of questions for you:
1. Did you run into any bad weather while you were sailing?
2. How do you know how much food you will need? And where do you get your food?
3. Are you excited to reach England? What will you do there?
We look forward to hearing from you because we are wondering about your sailing competition.
Your friends at St. Mary's in Mayville, Wisconsin
—Deb S., 12, Wisconsin

Tim: 1) Yes, I have had a little bit of bad weather, but that is to be expected. I have access to weather-forecasting information that should allow me to avoid some bad weather, but storms always come—even where you live! 2) I figure out how long I might be out here, and plan for a breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day. I eat cereal for breakfast—I bring both hot and cold cereal—soups or a sandwich for lunch, and a hot meal for dinner. I bring everything pre-packaged, so it is a snap to prepare and eat. I also bring lots of fresh fruit such as apples and oranges—and veggies like carrots. I don't have any refrigeration, so those things only last a couple of weeks. 3) I'm very excited. As I write this, I have under 600 miles to go. When I get there, I will have less than a week and a half to prepare for the next leg, which will be much longer than this one—perhaps over 40 days. So I have to load the boat with food, fix some things that are not working, get my clothes all set—I will be both very cold (in the North Atlantic) and very hot (crossing the equator) on this leg, so clothing is important— and generally preparing the boat. There will not be much time for sight-seeing!

Q: How do you wash your clothes?
—Alexis W., 8, Missouri

Tim: Alexis, I put my dirty clothes in a laundry bag and wash them when I get to shore.

Q: How are you doing over there? Have you had some rough experiences?
—Nicolas E., 9, Nebraska

Tim: I have not had really bad weather yet, so I am doing just great!

Hi Tim...I work with Sally O'Brien who is married to your cousin Paul O'Brien, and I found out about your voyage through her. What is it like sailing at night on the open ocean, and how do you avoid other vessels in shipping lanes, etc.? I realize that the ocean is pretty darn big and chances are that you won't encounter other vessels, but you must cross some shipping lanes on your route. You aren't making landfall very often...can you carry enough water and provisions to last from one stop to the next? Bon voyage!
—Deana S., California

Tim: I have two things that help me avoid other boats. One is my radar unit, which has an alarm that I can set to warn off other vessels coming close. The other is an Active Radar Transponder. What this does is detect radar on other boats, and send out a signal that makes my boat seem much larger than it is on the other boat's radar. And yes, I carry everything that I need to get from one stop to the next.

Hi. My name is Shaina and I am in Ms. Svenson's class. We were reading about you in Scholastic News the other day, and we saw how we could e-mail you. We were so excited and we kept asking Ms. Svenson crazy questions that she wouldn't be able to answer, so she wrote your address up on the board for us to take home. These are a couple of my questions I have for you: Were you really excited before going on this trip? Is it scary being out on the ocean all by yourself with no one to talk to? I know that I love sailing but I don't think I love it enough to go ALL BY MYSELF. You must be really brave. Have you faced any storms along the way? And the last question I have for you is...are you having fun sailing?
Thanks for letting me ask you some questions.
—Shaina L., 12, Massachusetts

Tim: No. I'm not scared being out here by myself. When there is a lot of wind, I sometimes wish that I had a crewmate to help me with the sails, but I try to anticipate things so that I don't have a hard time. I don't consider myself to be particularly brave—I get scared too! There have not been any big storms yet, but I am sure that I will see some big ones before it is over. And some of the time, the sailing is a real blast. I love it!

What are the four cardinal directions?
—Robert J., 12, California

Tim: The four cardinal directions are North, South, East, and West.

Does your ship have a motor or do you sail?
—Daniel E., 10, New Jersey

Tim: That's a good question. There is a small motor in the boat, but at the beginning of the race, we put a seal on the propeller shaft so that none of the sailors can use their engine. This is a sailing race, and we are only supposed to use the sails.

Do you have a TV on your boat?
—Lauren S., 10, New Jersey

Tim: No. No TV on the boat at all!

Do you have a computer a zon your boat?
—Amanda, B, 10, New Jersey

Tim: Yes. I am typing on my laptop computer right now. I am connected to the e-mail system in four different ways, so that I can make sure that I have contact with shore. I also use my computer to look at electronic charts and weather maps. It is a very valuable tool on the boat!

Hello. This is Joy. We have a work sheet in the fifth grade that we are doing about you, so please give me some answers! What do you think is one of the worst parts of the race?
—Joy E., 11, Michigan

Tim: Joy, there are several things that are difficult. Obviously, sailing in storms is hard. The wind is very loud, which makes things seem a bit scarier than they really are, and the motion of the boat is very violent at those times, so that's hard. Having things break on the boat is hard, because it is not always easy to fix something in the middle of the ocean. I need to be able to improvise at those times, to be able to find something else on the boat that I can use to make the repair.

But honestly, the worst part of the race is being apart from my daughters, Whitney (9) and Alison (8). We e-mail back and forth and talk sometimes on the satellite phone, but it's nothing like the hugs and kisses I get when I'm with them!

How do you check on the weather?
—Susie I., 6, Nebraska

Tim: I use the Internet to check the weather. I have a weather program on my boat called MaxSea. I can pick an area that I want a weather forecast on, and I e-mail that information to MaxSea.

We are third-graders in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We want to know how you will get food for all those months? Are you going to catch any live fish to eat?
—Marg H., 8, Michigan

Tim: Marg, believe it or not, my boat goes too fast to make it a good fishing boat. Maybe when I am in the doldrums, where there is not a lot of wind, I'll try to catch some fish. Right now the boat is going 15 knots, way faster than fish like to swim at dinner time. So I bring all of my food with me. I have cereal with powdered milk for breakfast (there is no refrigerator on my boat, so I make my milk as I need it), sandwiches or soup for lunch, and freeze-dried meals for dinner. The freeze-dried meals were invented for mountain climbers and hikers who needed lightweight meals that are both nourishing and tasty.

I boil two cups of water, pour in contents of the meal bag, cover it, wait 10 minutes, and presto! A complete dinner! Last night I had a tuna casserole and tonight I am having beef Stroganoff. The meals are quite delicious. I also have a lot of apples and oranges on the boat that I eat for snacks, some small candy bars, and of course some chocolate chip cookies—I can't go anywhere without those!

We are an eighth-grade math class. We would like to know how you named your boat?
—Cindy T., 13, North Carolina

Tim: I really like the name of my boat, so I am glad that you asked about it. Many people who have written about sailing alone around the world call it "the Everest of sailing," after Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain, known for how hard and dangerous it is to climb. Mount Everest is vertical, or tall, while the ocean is relatively flat, or horizontal. I put the two together for EVEREST HORIZONTAL. Incidentally, about 1,200 people have climbed Mount Everest; only about 120 have sailed solo around the world.

Have you seen any sharks?
—Matt R., 12, Missouri

Tim: No, no sharks. I have seen some whales and lots of dolphins, but no sharks. I love the dolphins, they come and play with the boat, swimming alongside, diving under the boat and jumping up on the other side. Seeing them always makes me laugh and smile. Old sailors say that if dolphins come to play with your boat at the beginning of a trip, it means that you will have a good voyage.

How long have you had your boat?
—Mike T., 11, Michigan

Tim: I bought the boat in May of 2001, so I have had it for a little over a year and a half. In that time, I have sailed it near San Francisco, where it was when I bought it; on Lake Michigan near where I live in Milwaukee; on Lake Superior and on Lake Huron; and on the Atlantic Ocean.

Have you ever been in trouble with your boat?
—Antonette L., 10, Michigan

Tim: I have gotten into a bit of trouble with it a couple of times, when small storms, called squalls, came up unexpectedly. Things get pretty exciting for a few minutes then, trying to get big sails down so that the boat can sail more easily. Other than that, I try to foresee what might happen and prepare in advance.

Can you use an electronic weather watcher to help you avoid squalls like the one that blew your spinnaker apart?
—Dr. Sally Stueber Merrill, Chesterton, Indiana, teacher at Whiting High School and Middle School

Tim: Actually, the wind that was blowing at that time was not all that strong; it was a problem with the autopilot that caused that particular disaster. But the answer to whether I can "see" squalls coming is yes. You can pick them up in radar. The squalls are so dense with rain that they appear on the radar, so I do have advance notice that they are coming.

I saw a picture of your boat in Junior Scholastic. Where do you sleep?
—Michelle K., 12, Vermont

Tim: There are two bunks on the boat, one on each side. I try to sleep in the one on the side of the boat toward the wind, so that my weight helps keep the boat level even when I am sleeping. I also catch a lot of catnaps on the wide, curved bench that I am sitting on now in the middle of the boat at my navigation station. Another great catnap spot is in the cockpit under a big, hard awning called a dodger. I can sit out there in the air without rain or spray bothering me, and get a little sleep as well.

What do you think has been your biggest challenge in achieving your goal in life? What do you think your biggest challenge will be on your trip?
—Bridget H., 12, Vermont

Tim: Bridget, I have several goals in life; this race is a big one! The biggest challenge in getting this boat to the start of the race was raising money to do all of the preparation work. Most of the other boats are sponsored by big companies. For example, one of my friends in the race, Brad Van Liew, is sailing a boat called Tommy Hilfiger, named after the clothing company that is sponsoring him. I don't have a sponsor, so raising money is hard.

On the trip itself, storms will be a big challenge, breakdowns will be a big challenge, and loneliness will be a big challenge. I think the most important thing is to deal with things one at a time, even when a lot seems to be going wrong. It is the same way I try to deal with things on shore!

Do you ever get seasick? I know I would. Also, did you make your boat or buy it?
—Mikala F., 12, Vermont

Tim: Mikala, fortunately I do not get seasick very easily. The very first time I went sailing, I got seasick. I remember it very well. I was 11 years old and all I wanted to do was get back to land. But I liked sailing, and went again and did not have a problem. Some people have a big problem with seasickness, but most people get used to the motion very quickly.
I do not have the talent to build a wonderful boat like this. I bought it used.

I'm very excited for you! I'm curious about what happens to you when you reach each destination. Is there someone there from the Around Alone organization to coordinate your stay and your visits with kids? Will you visit schools? Will your girls get to come visit you at any point?
—Manon S., 13, Wisconsin

Tim: Around Alone and their educational people are arranging schools for me to visit on the stopovers. I'm really looking forward to it. I am hoping that my daughters will be able to join me at most of the stops.

The seventh-and-eighth grade class at St. Mary's School in Mayville, Wisconsin (outside of Horicon), would like to ask you: How did you as a person hold on to your dream of sailing around the world for so long? Have you had other dreams?
—Ms. Silver's Social Studies Class, Wisconsin

Tim: I have wanted to go sailing around the world since I was in high school. For a long time, it seemed like an impossible idea for someone from the Midwest. But one day, some friends and I were talking and started to list the things that needed to be done in order for this to happen, and it started to seem possible. Two years later, here I am! My other big dream was to be a father, and I have two wonderful daughters. I'm a really fortunate guy.

Do you cook on a mini grill?
—Tyler J., 8, Minnesota

Tim: I cook on a little stove called a Sea-Swing, because it moves with the motion of the boat. I don't have a grill on board.

What kind of animals have you seen?
—John S., 9, Minnesota

Tim: I have seen a few whales and a lot of dolphins.

Have you passed along your interest in sailing to your daughters, and how do they feel about the journey you have just embarked on?
—Debbie M., Illinois

Tim: Whitney and Alison grew up sailing on weekends and weeknights with their mom and me. Two years ago, Whitney got her first boat, an Optimist dinghy, and started taking sailing lessons. Alison got her own Optimist this year. They really like the independence of sailing their own boats. The girls also race and cruise on Quicksilver, the boat that we have in Milwaukee. And of course they have been sailing on EVEREST HORIZONTAL. The girls are excited about this race, and like me, do not like the time apart. But before the school year is over, I will be home, and boy will we enjoy that!

Have you seen an octopus yet?
—Justin B., 10, Ontario

Tim: Justin, the octopus lives way down in the ocean. I am not going to see one during this race. But I saw one once when I was scuba diving—a little one, only a foot and a half long.

What is your favorite thing to do when you're bored?
—Joey S., 10, Ontario

Tim: When I am bored, I pick up a book or a magazine and read. Reading is a sure cure for boredom. Books take you to places you can't even imagine. I love to read. It's how I came up with the idea to do this race.