People and boats: Eugene Gvozdev and his «Lena», «Said» and «Getan.»
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People and boats: Eugene Gvozdev and his «Lena», «Said» and «Getan.»

11 years ago Yevgeny Gvozdev, a man who walked around the world under the Russian flag on a homemade 3.7-meter boat, passed away.
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The December storm ruthlessly blasted the Tyrrhenian Sea all night, and the SOS signals that foreshadowed large and small tragedies were heard on the air time and again. Against this backdrop, a brief note by the Roman Il Messagero hardly caught the eye of the Italian public. In a brief message it was said that the body of an unknown gray-haired man with a deep head wound was found in the fashionable beach area of Castelporciano. The identity of the deceased was established only a few days later, comparing this sad event with the discovery on a nearby beach of a wave-torn small yacht with the strange name of Getan II. «So, at the very beginning of his third solo round-the-world trip, 74-year-old Evgeny Gvozdev passed away...

«I read different books as a child, about distant countries, about travel... I'd throw them in the oven, and I read...»

He was born on March 11, 1934, far from the sea, in Belarusian (and then - still in Polish) Pinsk. Having lost his parents early, the 15-year-old found himself with distant relatives in Makhachkala, just as far from the Belarusian marshes. But the sea (though closed, the Caspian Sea) was now very close. His name brought the young man to the Astrakhan Naval School, after graduating from which Evgeny worked as a ship mechanic in the fishing fleet for 35 years.

The passion for sailing woke up in it much earlier than the word yachting «itself became» popular in the USSR. Back in the late 1950s, a young third mechanic caught the eye of a piece of newspaper describing the adventures of Marcel Bardio. Like Gvozdev himself, he remained an orphan early, but still managed to realize the cherished dream: his own hands to build a boat (30ft. sloop Quatre Vents) and alone make it around the world, which lasted eight (!) years.

The example of the Frenchman was contagious, but Eugene could only follow him almost a quarter century later. In the mid-1970s he managed to buy a decommissioned ship-boat for 600 roubles and, working on weekends and holidays, to transform it into a single mast yacht. By that time Gvozdev had already become a solid father of the family with two children. From the initial letters of the names of all members of the family and was born an unusual name of the first boat - GETAN.

Yacht Specifications «Getan»
Length: 6.5 m
Width: 2.30 m
Water Displacement: approx. 2 tons
Sails area: 18.6 m²


By the summer of 1979, Gvozdev had at his disposal a maybe not cascading, but quite a sea-going microcruiser«, on which in the»next 12 years he sailed the Caspian literally along and across, in summer and winter, in any weather. The boat turned out to be surprisingly stable: even in the most brutal storm it was not covered by a wave and was never put on board.

Often, the journey went the whole family, but it seems that from the very first out to sea, Eugene was preparing himself for solo swimming. It is no coincidence that the first Getan «»was already equipped so that if necessary he could swim for 4-6 months without entering the ports. But where to find a route corresponding to this length of time?

The enclosed Caspian Sea was becoming too close for an elderly adventurer whose soul was torn to the ocean expanse. But how to do it? The way out was... TV.

Popular in the early 1990s Field «of Wonders program as» one of the super-prizes offered lucky yachts of domestic production. Though this fiberglass dinghy was intended for family rest on the rivers, lakes or (on the most extreme case!) in coastal water area, but it could not prevent the experienced traveler. All the more that similar yachts were built in series also on Caspian Sea - in Aktau, at shipyards of company Sovmarket.«

Yacht Specifications Lena«»
Length the greatest: 5,50 m
Width greatest: 2.45 m
Water Displacement: 660 kg
Precipitation 0.30 / 1.10 m
Weight of ballast: 200 kg.
Sailing area 18.5 m².






It took Yevgeny about six months to convince the manufacturer's management to provide him with a boat for testing in ocean transition conditions. By the way, initially it was not a question of circumnavigation: little Lena «»was to cross the Atlantic. Just in 1992 the whole world widely celebrated the 500th anniversary of the official discovery of America, so that in the case of successful navigation of fiberglass shells on the route of the caravel of Columbus, loud advertising would be» guaranteed to Sovmarket«.

As a result, Gvozdev not only got a new boat for three years in use, but also acquired the official status of a test skipper, though without a clearly defined salary. And already on July 7, 1992 Lena«» left the port of Makhachkala and headed for Astrakhan, then along the Volga, the Don and the Sea of Azov to reach Chernoye and arrive to Novorossiysk.

«If I'm not scared, I won't go to sea...»

Here Gvozdev had to spend almost 5(!) tedious months waiting for a foreign passport of a sailor and the reserves promised by the official sponsor for the initial stage of the voyage. Only on December 15 he left Novorossiysk, but the transition to the Bosporus was still forced to postpone: in the first days of the voyage there were serious problems with the steering system, which had to be repaired for a long time in Sevastopol and then in Odessa.

So, 500 years after Columbus, America was discovered without «Lena»: only in early spring of 1993 it passed through the Bosporus and... as if dissolved in the Mediterranean Sea.

The first news from Gvozdev did not reach his homeland until August, from the Canary Islands, where he had lost 20 kg of weight (food ran out) and all the money (they were borrowed by valiant«Albanian» border guards).

Fortunately, in Las Palmas he was warmly welcomed by the crews of Russian vessels and the staff of the Soviet-Spanish firm Sovspan«, which provided»Yevgeny with everything he needed to continue his journey.

Having recovered and (once again) repaired the tiny Lena, «Gvozdev»left hospitable Gran Canaria on August 20 and, having come down closer to the equatorial zone, moved westwards. He managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 50 days, while the storms were only four days. When it became impossible to move forward, «Lena» was storming on a floating anchor, and her captain was trying to get some sleep during the whole time of single helmsman's watch. Alas, in good weather I had to sleep only sporadically, for 15-20 minutes. This «fraction» sleep has rather exhausted Evgeny Aleksandrovich who, unlike the western colleagues-single (like Helen MacArthur), could not count neither on a special sleeping bracelet«, nor on»satellite equipment.

On October 8th, «Lena» reached Fr. Barbados and, after a 10-day stopover in Bridgetown, set sail again, heading for Puerto Rico. Here, she had to stay for three months. Gvozdev waited for the money promised to him by Russian sponsors, and painfully tried to answer the question: what to do next? The transatlantic crossing is complete, so you can return home by plane, leaving the boat in America, or on a Russian ship, loading Lena «on» board. And if you still continue the journey?

Life itself helped to make the right decision: Evgeny never waited for a transfer from Russian sponsors, but he acquired many new friends from Puerto Rico, who helped to prepare the yacht for further sailing. In February 1994, Lena, perfectly repaired and repainted, «with»all the necessary equipment (including VHF radios and solar panels), moved to the entrance of the Panama Canal, where she was expected by the Pacific Ocean.

His 60th birthday Gvozdev met on his way to the fabulous island of Tahiti, which took 93 days to reach. Storms and squalls, numerous steering wheel failures and desalination failure awaited him on the way, and the company was sharks, a giant turtle, tangled in the debris of the network near the Galapagos Islands and whales, on the back of one of which Lena spent several «unforgettable» minutes.

Having rested (and once again repaired the long-suffering steering «wheel) in Tahiti», Evgeny Alexandrovich moved to the shores of Australia, visiting Samoa, Fiji and New Caledonia. From 7 months which were required to cross Pacific Ocean, only four passed in the sea - the rest time had to be spent in repair work on coast.

It was only at the end of October that Gvozdev arrived in Brisbane. He was to spend almost six months in Australia, which he later remembered as the happiest of all the first round the world. By the way, in the museum, Evgeny looked with interest at a very tiny (3.6 meters) boat of the famous Serge Test, on which he alone circled the globe in 1984-87.Gvozdev managed to meet the famous Australian, who gave him his book of 500 «days»dedicated to this extraordinary voyage. Who knows, maybe it was this book that inspired Yevgeny Alexandrovich for the second round of the world...

Finally, the time has come to part with hospitable Australia: on April 25, 1995, Gvozdev moved almost strictly to the west through the Indian Ocean, hoping to resupply water in the Cocos Islands, Chagos Archipelago and Seychelles. Such a route was chosen specifically to avoid the risk of pirate attacks off the Indonesian and Java coasts, but ... led the traveler right at the muzzle of Somalia's sea robbers' automatic rifles.

On August 5, near Cape Ras Gafun Lena«» was boarded by a dozen armed bandits. Yevgeny Alexandrovich was brought ashore and kept under the gun for almost half an hour, arguing among themselves whether to shoot him or let him go.

In the end, mercy prevailed, although it seemed to have been dictated by the need to save cartridges...

The nail was allowed to continue on the way, but was robbed clean. Not only money, two months' supply of food and absolutely all clothes disappeared from the boat, but even glasses, a toothbrush and old ... panties that had long been used as a floor cloth.Having mercy, the pirates still returned 12 kg of rice, 40 litres of water, two of the oldest sails, one map, a compass, sextan (without a pipe), a gas tile, and (most importantly!) diary entries for the entire previous hike.

In 13 days the robbed «Lena» managed to get to Djibouti, where Evgeny Alexandrovich stayed till the end of August: he himself was cleaning the hull, diving under the boat, mending sails and (in vain) was looking for Red Sea maps. This was followed by two relatively short passages to the Ethiopian ports of Assab and Massaya, and an excruciating almost three-month (!) voyage on the Red Sea, with mostly oncoming winds and +45° heat.

It was only on November 23 that Gvozdev reached the port of Suez, where sailors of the Russian merchant fleet came to his aid again: groceries, warm clothes and a hinged motor, on which two weeks later Lena «»passed the Suez Canal on her own. New Year and Christmas 1996 was celebrated in Cyprus - the plan to get to the Israeli Haifa had to be abandoned because of winter Mediterranean storms.

Here, in Limassol harbor near Yevgeny Alexandrovich had a remarkable conversation with one of the local millionaires of Russian origin (who later became his guardian angel on the island).

From a passing luxury boat Gvozdev was suddenly called in Russian:
- Hey, man, where you from?
- From Makhachkala, the Caspian Sea.
- Where are you going?
- Yes, to Makhachkala.
- Why are you going back and forth?
- And I'm going back and forth, around...
- Around what? The earth, or what?
- Well, yeah.
- This is ****?!
- On it...









Despite the hospitality of his new acquaintance and his own intolerance to the cold, in mid-January Gvozdev left Cyprus, seeking to quickly close the official round-the-world ring off the coast of Greece. The last miles to Hellada's sea gate, Cape Sunion (with its ancient temple of Poseidon) proved particularly difficult. During a night-time storm on the island of Poseidon. Leros «Lena» almost threw himself ashore. Yevgeny Alexandrovich had to burn the falsifiers for several hours - help came when the rocks were no more than 30 meters.

And yet, on 17 February, Lena was «moored» in Athens' Alimos marina, where Gvozdev was to spend two whole months. From the sporting point of view, the round-the-world voyage was completed, but to leave a faithful boat in a foreign land was above his strength. In the beginning of April Evgeny Alexandrovich moved to the north, to the Black Sea straits. The rest of the journey ended without much adventure: having passed on a tugboat Dardanelles and Bosporus (thanks, Turkish yachtsmen helped), Lena «again» crossed the Black Sea and arrived in Sevastopol on May 3. Then Gvozdev warmly welcomed Novorossiysk, but the trip didn't end there either: having repeated already familiar way through Azov Sea, Don and Volga, Lena left «for Caspian» Sea and returned to Makhachkala on July 18, 1996.


And really more than 4-year swimming has been finished already on the opposite coast of the Caspian Sea, in Aktau where Evgeny Alexandrovich has driven Lena «only» in some days. The boat is handed over under the receipt, so the sea is locked on the castle. But... is it so?

«If you don't have a yacht, do it!»

For his feat, 62-year-old Gvozdev becomes... no, not an all-Russian celebrity, but only an honorary citizen of Makhachkala. It would seem that he is left to retire and write his memoirs, resting on his scarce, but still laurels. But the call of the Sea is stronger.

Does not pass and three years as Evgeny Aleksandrovich again goes on a round-the-world trip. This time on a boat made by the hands, on a balcony of usual city three floors.


Yacht Specifications Said «»
Length largest: 3.7 m
Width the greatest: 1,46 m
Precipitation: 0.85 m
Overhead height on the midships: 0.55 m
Load-carrying capacity: 700 kg.
Weight of a lead pseudo: 110 kg.
Full displacement: 1,1 tons
Max. sailing area: 5.9 m²
Self contained in stock (for 1 person): 4 months.








The tiny vessel (just 10 cm longer than the legendary Acrohc Australis by Serge Testa) has been named Said - «in»honour of the head of the local government who funded the new voyage. On May 17, 1999, a 3.7-metre tiny girl left Makhachkala for Astrakhan, from where she was taken to Novorossiysk by truck.

Almost for two months the decision of customs and other formalities was stretched, but still on July 2 Gvozdev managed to say goodbye to the Motherland once again and set the course for the Bosporus. Hope - only on sails, because the weak motor had to leave in Astrakhan.

Of the navigational aids, only sextan and a set of maps before entering the Atlantic. No author, radar, echo sounder or satellite navigator, of course.

Despite the storms that made Said seek refuge first in the Turkish Zonguldak and then in Chanakkala, he overcame «the Straits of the Black» Sea in early August. But further the weather favoured the brave traveller: the crossing around the Peloponnese in passing winds took only 17 days and after a relatively calm sailing in the western Mediterranean, with short but pleasant stops in Italian and Spanish ports, he entered Gibraltar on November 5. Here Evgeny Aleksandrovich spent two weeks inspecting, repairing and tinting his Said«, and»also received a valuable gift from his English colleagues - a compact GPS navigator, which in his first round-the-world trip could not even dream about.

This was followed by a three-week voyage to the Canary Islands, where Gvozdev met many old acquaintances, who again filled him with gifts, and - a decisive throw across the Atlantic. Evgeny Alexandrovich met the beginning of the new millennium in the middle of the ocean. To the islands of Green Cape, he was towing a yacht of his choice (with the Ukrainian crew), and then Said «was» to sail to the shores of Brazil for 60 days on his own.

In p. Salvador, and then in Rio de Janeiro, Gvozdev spent about a month and a half preparing to swim to the southern tip of the American continent. True, he was not going to round Cape Horn, but the intention to pass the Strait of Magellan seemed to be a bid for a real feat. Following the example of Joshua Slocum, Captain Sayid decided to «do» it under sail, but ... the world again was not without good people. Already in Argentina's Mar del Plata, the locals were so amazed by the determination of the Russo «Naviganto»that they gave him a 3 hp hinged motor.

The new year 2001 came up discreetly. On January 21, Gvozdev entered the insidious strait between the continent and the Tierra del Fuego, and only at the end of February did he leave it for the Pacific Ocean, spending as much time as Fernand Magellan himself - 38 days - to overcome this difficult winding road!

gusty, often oncoming winds, snowy charges and, most importantly, the constant cold, which could only be disposed of in a dream for a short time (in a sleeping bag, in a hug with a hot water can).

By the way, for 30 days Evgeny Alexandrovich was already desperate to make his way through the strait, but the wind that drove Said «back» to the Atlantic Ocean, suddenly changed into a hitchhiker.

Having left behind a stern Magellanov the strait, Gvozdev has moved to the north along coast of Chile. This voyage, with numerous side stops, took 4.5 months. The authorities of the Chilean ports behaved in different ways: the Russian traveler was mistaken for a smuggler (arranging mass searches on the boat), or a hero (with triumphant honoring and assistance in docking and repairing). But the Chilean police were unanimous everywhere: «Said» seemed so fragile and unreliable that he was not allowed to go out on the high seas, insisting on continuing to swim in the coastal zone. It was not until mid-July that Gvozdev managed to deceive the vigilance of the law enforcement guards, and instead of moving further north along the Peruvian coast, he again resolutely headed west to the island of Tahiti.

During this transition, which lasted more than 120 days, Yevgeny Alexandrovich had to experience a real drought in the «middle of the» ocean, spending on the island of Tahiti.all needs no more than 1,5 litres of fresh water a day, and the increased attention of sharks, in pursuit of fish you and business rubbing backs about a bottom of his tiny yacht. Anyway, on November 13th he arrived safely in Papeete, where he had a four-month holiday, waiting for the tropical hurricane season. During this time, Gvozdev also visited the neighboring islands of French Polynesia, and got a manual desalination plant. This truly valuable gift from the Tahitian yachtsmen not only provided him with a reliable supply of drinking water, but also helped him to maintain fitness, acting as a kind of simulator.

It was not until February 2002 that Said«» continued his journey to Australia, which he reached after five long months, with the only short stop in Samoa. Unlike the first round-the-world trip, the current trip around the Kangaroo Country took less than three weeks. Already in late July, he left the port of Darwin and moved across the Indian Ocean through the Cocos Islands to the fabulous (once) Ceylon, life on which so fascinatingly described in the XVII century, one of the ancestors of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Alas, the original plans to circumvent the Cape of Good Hope Gvozdev had to abandon - at home persistently hurried family circumstances, which in his diaries, he preferred not to leave. Having successfully overcome a strip of headwinds and happily avoided too playful whales, Said «arrived in Colombo on» November 5. From here Evgeny Alexandrovich carefully moved to the shores of Africa: remembering his sad experience with Somali pirates, this time he laid the course not directly, and bypass, through the northern part of the Arabian Sea. At this 50-day crossing Gvozdev met another new year - 2003. Two weeks after this remarkable event, the traveler arrived in Djibouti, which had lost some weight, but was safe and sound.

Gvozdev didn't stay here either, because the Red Sea is ahead of him, through which in the previous voyage he had to gnaw «literally, fighting»against oncoming winds within 90 days. However, even now without unpleasant surprises did not manage: just a couple of days after leaving Djibouti, the rudder on Saida«fails» and, despite the captain's best efforts, the yacht is thrown onto the shoreline so that at the next low tide it is almost 100 meters from the water's edge!

It took a long three days to steal the boat back to the depths. Fortunately, the hull was not damaged during this adventure, so the transition to Suez this time took only two and a «»half months. But going through the channel could be a story for a separate chapter: where, on a tugboat of a passing yacht, where, under the borrowed engine, paying pilots with the scarce remnants of sponsorship money, or even radio (in the form of bakshish), the Nail went into the Mediterranean Sea and on April 20 reached Cyprus. It took about a month to get to Rhodes (interrupted by the prolonged calm and extra vigilant Greek border guards), but on 24 June, passing the meridian of Lemnos, Evgeny Alexandrovich officially closed its second round-the-world.

Then there was no special adventure: on the quay Atykei Marina of Istanbul, Gvozdev accidentally met the famous yacht captain Victor Yazykov, who helped tow Sayid «»through the Bosporus and the Black Sea in Sochi. And on August 9, 2003 Evgeny Alexandrovich moored his small vessel to his native berth of Makhachkala port.

«True drama in yachting is now a problem...»

For his third round-the-world trip grandfather «(»as the Makhachkala residents affectionately called his honorary citizen) began preparing almost immediately after returning from the second round-the-world trip. No, he is not chasing records - he just wants to have time to go swimming again around the ball«.

The boat for a new journey Evgeny Alexandrovich again is going to make with his own hands. There is a so-called «Project Three»- the yacht, length no more than 3 meters which can be constructed directly in a room of the city apartment! Serge Test's laurels could be in jeopardy, but it is very slow: as usual, there is a lack of money, materials and the most necessary equipment.

And then fate gives the 73-year-old veteran another chance: in the summer of 2007 one of the admirers gives Gvozdev his yacht, on which he can set sail next year.

The new boat is named «Getan II». It is a slightly modernized version of the plastic production yacht type «Ricochet 555», which is similar in size to «Lena». It has an improved cockpit and a faux passerelle instead of the standard centreboard. Alas, it is necessary to shorten the mast (to 6 m) as microcracks have been found in it. In order not to lose time, Evgeny decided to start with this stump «and the old» set of sails, hoping to replace the mast already in Gibraltar. In the same place he was going to decide on the next route: whether to stay close to the equator or go down to the roaring forties.«

Yacht Specifications «Getan II»
Length maximum: 5.5 m
Length by KVL: 4,6 м
Width: 2.45 m
Precipitation (including fake): 1.1 m
Weight of ballast: 200 kg.
Water-displacement: 560 kg
Sailing area: 18.6 m.







Departure from Novorossiysk is scheduled for September 12 - on this day many years ago his first Getan set sail for his first voyage. However, due to too rough weather, the start has to be postponed by a week and it is only on September 19, 2008 that Gvozdev begins his third round-the-world voyage. Few people noticed then that both start dates were fatefully on Friday...

Swimming the autumn Black Sea is not easy: a wave breaks the rudder pen and you have to go to the Turkish Ereglie for repair. But then everything seems to be getting better: On October 20 «Getan II» is already on the way to Athens, on November 7 - in the Ionian Sea, and by November 16, passing the Strait of Messina under sail (the engine is out of order), Eugene Alexandrovich reaches Naples.

Obviously, the next points of call on the way to Gibraltar should have been Sardinia or Corsica, but to get to these islands Getan II «was no longer» destined. Rare sessions of communication with friends in faraway Dagestan have preserved for us a tragic chronicle of his last days of sailing.

From the morning of November 29th the yacht hits a fierce storm with waves reaching 6m height. Under their hits, Getan «II lies» on board and turns over.

Most of the reserves, including fresh water and fuel, were washed away overboard. The mast was torn out together with the steppe and broken.

Evgeny Alexandrovich still manages to put the boat on an even keel. By evening the wind is a little quieter, and the waves are reduced to «only 2-3» meters.
30 November. A nail usually says that «everything is in order: he»anchored near the shore, dug water out of the boat, closed the holes from the steppe. True, still strong excitement does not allow to establish a temporary mast, but nothing - according to the forecast tomorrow is expected to calm down, and then a few more days of good weather. Evgeny gives the coordinates of his anchorage: 41° 38', 18 N 12° 24' 56E. They were the last...

On December 1, at the appointed time, Gvozdev did not get in touch. At first, this was not given much importance, thinking that he was too busy repairing. When the silence was delayed, relatives and friends began independent searches for any traces of Evgeny Aleksandrovich. The first line seemed on December 2, when the lieutenant of the Italian carabinieri reported about Getan«II,»found on one of the fashionable beaches of Ostia. On the 5th of December, there was a note in Il Messagero, in which the discovery of the damaged yacht was tried to connect with the body of an unknown gray-haired man. Hopefully, the newspapers got it wrong: the boat in the published photo does not look much like Getan II,«and her mast»is intact.

Hope was still warm until December 10, 2008, when it became finally clear that Yevgeny Alexandrovich Gvozdev would not be able to complete his third round-the-world voyage...

He didn't leave behind books, just diary entries and letters. He did not chase records, did not aspire to glory and sincerely believed that on a normal yacht any real man will go round the world without problems, only to want and prepare well. And also was deeply convinced that: «The earth remains bright and mysterious and must be told about it. But to tell, it is necessary to see and know a lot, and for this purpose - to go on trips more often. Therefore the best award for Evgeny Aleksandrovich Gvozdev was and remains bright memory of his distant voyages.

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