Briefly in the Third Person:
Webb Chiles is a writer and a sailor, an artist of words and wind. Married six times, he has lived with passion on land as well as water and at one time liked to believe himself an artist of women, too, but this may have been a delusion. As a writer: seven books and hundreds of articles published. As a sailor: five circumnavigations and several world records; and long ago he became the first American to sail alone around Cape Horn. He wanted to live an epic life. Perhaps he has. Read his books and decide for yourself.
At Greater Length in the First:
Twice in my life I have lost everything.
Once the loss occurred over a period of years while I was sailing CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, an 18' open boat, west around the world. When I was falsely imprisoned as a spy in Saudi Arabia in 1982, I did not own a single object, not a teaspoon or a t-shirt, that I had owned when I sailed from San Diego, California, in 1978.
The second loss was as complete but took place during a single night in 1992 when I sank the 36' sloop, RESURGAM, off the coast of Florida, following which I floated and swam for 26 hours and was carried more than 125 miles by the Gulf Stream before reaching an anchored fishing vessel.
I mention this only partly in pride that I lived on the edge and risked everything for so long--as I once wrote: almost dying is a hard way to make a living--but also because it explains omissions. Possessions can usually be replaced, but some of my writing and many photographs were lost and can't be.
"Old men should be explorers." I first read that decades ago in a book by Jan de Hartog, but subsequently came across it in T. S. Eliot's FOUR QUARTETS, which predates Hartog by several decades. I don't know if there is an even earlier source.
Now that I am seventy, those words are even more true.
For the past several years I have divided my time between being with Carol, an architect and my wife of sixteen years, in a condominium in Evanston, Illinois, and my 37' sloop, THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, in New Zealand's Bay of Islands. But recently I have been thinking of living on the edge again. "Small" and "age" are edges. So I have just bought a 24' sloop, possibly for my next voyage. Having completed circumnavigations in four successive decades--two in the 00s, I'd like to make it five.
People who know of me at all probably do so as a sailor; but I have always thought of myself as an artist, and I believe that the artist's defining responsibility is to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports. My books are among those reports.
Update February 15, 2016
I am now seventy-four. Carol and I have now been married twenty-one years. I no longer own THE HAWKE OF TUONELA. I am about to fly to New Zealand to continue my sixth circumnavigation in GANNET, an ultra-light Moore 24, which I sailed from San Diego across the Pacific in 2014. Time and chance permitting we will reach South Africa before the end of this year and complete the voyage in 2017.
The photo was taken in 1992. That is the way I would like to be remembered.
For more information please visit: www.inthepresentsea.com