Mathematics of sails
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Mathematics of sails

23-year-old Muscovite Alexei Negodov quit his studies in «Baumanka», left home and went to Vladivostok to take a small sailing boat to the USA.
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Alexey Negodov wants to get to the USA for the sake of science: his dream is to study mathematics at Harvard or MIT. According to the plan, after 150 days on the road, Alexei had to run into American border guards and demand political asylum. He had no sailing experience and no budget.

With a hole in his pocket and a guitar behind his shoulders, Alexey spent 25 days on «dogs» reaching Vladivostok. He earned food and tickets with songs; slept on rooftops, in forests and fields; ate mostly dry buckwheat. In Vladivostok, a former student took up tutoring. He had to live somehow and save money for a boat and other necessary equipment.

Alexei managed to collect 200,000 through the Internet. In the same place, in the network, he found his boat: a two-sailing dinghy made of composite at a cost of 100 thousand rubles, assembled at the Vladivostok shipyard on the American project Dudley Dix.

The first exit to the sea failed on it: Alexey couldn't get out of the small bay, strong wind blew his boat on the stones, which made three holes in the body the size of a palm. The boat got stuck 50 meters away from the exit point on two surviving hermootsects, Alexey pulled it out of the water with the help of a winch. He knocked out patches from the hull of an old ship found on the shore nearby and glued them with epoxy resin.

«I made a sandwich plate (i.e. a patch) on top of the hole, a plate from below, glue between them, and the sneaky panelling of my boat. My boat is 5mm thick, by the way. And all this had to be bolted down until the glue froze»," he described the repair process in his travel journal.

On June 25th, Alexei Negodov set sail again. He tried to row against the south wind, but soon realized that it was useless: a novice navigator was carried to the west. The south wind drove the traveler deep into the bay, though he tried to go in the opposite direction.

I managed the boat on the principle «that if something goes wrong, you have to pull»something. I wasn't even trying to remember what I saw in the books. I just saw on the Internet that the way I was walking was called a Gulfwind.

The first day of the big adventure ended in shallow reeds on the opposite side of the bay.

«From a slot in my boat, where the centreboard should be inserted, water started to splash (I still do not understand the hydrodynamics of this phenomenon). She changed the color around the boat, on the sides of the stern went lambs. At first I did not understand what was going on. But when I started pounding the rudder, I realized it was shallow».

On the second day of the journey, the south wind finally popped. By lunchtime, however, a flurry suddenly broke out and the boat began to be pulled back to shore. It was impossible to row against this wind, and Alexei decided to set sails. However, it soon became clear that because of the very strong wind the boat was threatening to turn over. It was necessary to remove the mainsail.

«The sail did not clean up. I shouted out of fear to myself, "Get it out on...!" and started grabbing it and pulling my arms down».

It did not help. But it was possible to open the boat, thus preventing a coup, and hit the shore.

After all the misfortunes Alexey, not having a map of these places (it was dissolved by sea water), reached the Stark Strait. Before going out to the open sea, he was going to pester one of the uninhabited islands, put everything in order and build a breakwater on his nose. The attempt to pester the island of Shkot ended in failure: the boat had nothing to tie it to and began to be pulled down on boulders. That's when Alexey decided to sleep on the water. He removed the sails and dropped the floating anchor.

«I had already noticed by that time that my boat was completely unbearable when I left the controls. It was useless to tie it up, fix the rudder, wrap the schools around ducks. She's very small, sensitive. Getting away from her rudder was like taking your hands off the handlebars when you ride a bike».

Alexey spent three days at sea without leaving the shore: he waited for the wind to go back to the islands and find a place to moor. All this time it kept raining.

«I knew all degrees of sputum. I had everything wet, but I still held on to some boundary that separates a wet sleeping bag from a sleeping bag filled with water. I was wrapped up in all the tapes and covers available to me. My knees and teeth started to hurt - my old wounds. I was gradually approaching the limits of my body»'s ability.

Eventually, the traveler managed to hit a small bay on Kozlov Island. He tied the boat to the rocks from five different points, literally stretching it over the water.

«There was no way I could recover from how beautifully I had moored my boat. I photographed it from all sides - it was literally floating on absolutely transparent, sparkling water»in the bright sun.

In two weeks, he managed to build a case of the breakwater.

And then Typhoon «Chang-Hom»came to this place. According to the forecasts, the wind was expected to be south, and Alexei was not worried - the island closed it from the consequences. However, the typhoon was stronger than he had expected.

«Once again, I was working as a bailiff when a boat fell on top of me. Quiet. Fell. Water car. Five thumb thick ropes ripped in the middle like threads, the boat from one side was no longer tied»up.

The Shuttlebot took off into the sea. Later it was found near Sand Bay, near the Chinese border.

Alexey spent a few more days on the island. Passing motor boats refused to take him on board and take him to the nearest inhabited island.

In the end, Alexei was given a ride by a sailing yacht. Now he's back in Vladivostok. His plans are to «find sponsors and go legally and officially at latitude 40 across the ocean next year, carefully prepared, with a good boat and a budget of tens of thousands of dollars». And although a former Baumanka student and mathematician says he conceived this journey for the sake of science, it seems to us that it has long been a journey for the sake of travel. And after the first (albeit difficult) attempts - also for the love of sailing. Just listen to him describe his journey into the Strait of Stark.

«I was drunk on the boat. I could go almost anywhere I wanted without a centreboard. Yes, although I had a specific goal - the city of Nakhodka, but it was a sense of permissiveness. A huge amount of reserves - no engine, no resource, no fuel - gave me the feeling that I could go anywhere in the world where there was a sea after spending some time. And the sun, the sun was heating!»
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