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East-West Question | Humans sailed around the Arctic Ocean without stopping for the first time Zhai Mo: How to communicate with China and the West through sailing? – Chinanews.com

China News Agency, Beijing, January 18th. Title: Human beings circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean for the first time without stopping Zhai Mo: How to communicate with China and the West through sailing?

China News Agency reporter Wan Shuyan

Departing from Shanghai, after 504 days and a voyage of more than 28,000 nautical miles, Zhai Mo, a navigator known as “China’s first global voyage”, crossed the Arctic “Death Channel” and endured difficulties and obstacles such as polar cyclones, icebergs, heavy fog, and huge waves. , recently completed the first non-stop voyage around the Arctic Ocean in human history.

From ancient times to the present, navigators from the East and the West have continuously explored marine civilizations and promoted exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations. Nowadays, with frequent occurrence of marine ecological disasters and sudden environmental accidents, the issue of ocean governance has become a common issue facing the world. Zhai Mo said in an exclusive interview with China News Agency’s “East and West Questions” recently that sailing has changed his world view. Looking at the ocean from the land is completely different from seeing the land from the ocean. All countries should embrace all rivers, seek common ground while reserving differences, develop together, and peacefully use marine resources. .

  The interview transcript is summarized as follows:

  China News Agency reporter: After 504 days and 28,000 nautical miles, you completed the first feat in human history to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean without stopping. What was your original intention for initiating this voyage?

Zhai Mo: In 2002, I met a navigator named Hank in the Netherlands. When he sailed in the Arctic Ocean, his route was frozen by glaciers for nearly a year, and he was able to return in the summer of the following year. When I heard Hank recall this experience, I had two years of sailing experience, so I also wanted to try to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean.

I also have the identity of the UNDP “Defend Nature” promotion officer. This voyage is not only to realize my dream, but also to draw more people’s attention to global warming and catastrophic climate issues. It was 37 degrees Celsius in Siberia when we sailed last year. If the Arctic and Antarctic glaciers continue to melt, many island countries may cease to exist in a few decades. I call on people all over the world to pay attention to environmental protection, love the earth, and reduce carbon emissions.

Photos of Zhai Mo’s circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean.Photo provided by the interviewee

  China News Agency reporter: Why did no one complete the non-stop circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean before?

Zhai Mo: First of all, in the past few years, the climate has not warmed up so fast, it is difficult to travel due to the glaciers, and the climate conditions in the Arctic Ocean are complex and dangerous. Secondly, in the past, the Arctic Northeast Passage and the Northwest Passage were mostly sailed separately, and a large area of ​​the Northeast Passage was in the control area, making navigation inconvenient.

Photos of Zhai Mo’s circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean.Photo provided by the interviewee

  China News Agency reporter: The Arctic Passage is covered by thick ice most of the time and is called the “legendary passage”, while the Arctic Northeast Passage is also known as the “Death Passage”. What thrilling moments did you experience on the circumnavigation?

Zhai Mo: My two crew members and I set sail on June 30, 2021. The initial plan was to take about 4 months, with a total distance of more than 16,000 nautical miles. However, various difficulties and obstacles encountered on the way extended the voyage for more than a year.

The Arctic Northeast Passage is full of dangers and is called the “Death Passage”. The Bering Strait, the Chukchi Sea, and the Barents Sea are all named by later generations in memory of the pioneers who died here. The ice floes and icebergs that suddenly appear on the vast sea stand there like tombstones. The most feared thing in sailing is the ice floes. We basically walk along the ice cracks, and the ice floes are moving. Coupled with ocean currents, sometimes we want to hide Can’t escape.

This time I chose a sailboat made of aluminum alloy. If it collides with an iceberg, this material may only be dented, and it will not be knocked out of a big hole.

Photos of Zhai Mo’s circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean.Photo provided by the interviewee

Before departure, we prepared six to seven tons of materials according to the most extreme conditions, and we had enough food for a year, including naan, yak meat, Shandong pancakes, sleeping bags that could withstand minus 50 to minus 70 degrees Celsius, and firecrackers , Flare guns are used to drive away polar bears.

As soon as we entered the Bering Strait, we encountered a polar cyclone, and a large number of ice floes and icebergs were blown to the coast, and we walked cautiously through the ice floes for a long time. When sailing through the Chukchi Sea, the ice floes and heavy fog were superimposed, and the visibility was only more than ten meters. It took 11 hours to travel more than 50 nautical miles. The ten-level gale of the polar cyclone also damaged the headsail and the forestay.

Photos of Zhai Mo’s circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean.Photo provided by the interviewee

When we arrived near the Beidi Islands, the window time was only about 10 days. If we failed to pass, the hull would be frozen at any time. At that time, all instruments and compasses failed, and I realized what it means to “can’t find north”. We drove as close to the land as possible. Fortunately, we also brought a fiber optic compass, and we drove out of that sea area with the aid of visual inspection.

Photos of Zhai Mo’s circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean.Photo provided by the interviewee

When we were in the ice area, we took turns driving the boat 24 hours a day, but we still hit an iceberg near Greenland, and the ice floes kept coming, causing the hull to seep.

After completing the circumnavigation, we disembarked in Boston, USA, and the first thing we did was to overhaul the ship. Later, it went south along the east coast of North America, passed through the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Panama Canal, across the Pacific Ocean, and finally returned to Shanghai.

Boat sailing in Baffin Bay.Photo provided by the interviewee

  China News Agency reporter: You have more than 20 years of sailing career. Sailing at sea all year round, what kind of communication do you have with foreign navigators? What gains and influences have you gained from being in a multicultural environment?

Zhai Mo: In 1999, I went to New Zealand to hold a solo exhibition, and then made a documentary. I met a Norwegian navigator. His exploration experience made me interested in sailing, so I started the sailing journey. The first stop started from Tahiti in the South Pacific. I have sailed around the world twice, but I have not been to Antarctica. In 2023, I plan to circumnavigate Antarctica and complete the third lap.

Sailing out to sea.Photo provided by the interviewee

My profession is painting, and sailing is just a hobby. I like to constantly challenge more unknowns. I prefer European paintings. After being exposed to sailing, I prefer original totems and indigenous art. The life of the indigenous people in the South Pacific is simple, simple and beautiful. The French Post-Impressionist master Gauguin spent his later years in Tahiti.

Sailing changed my worldview. Looking at the ocean from the land is completely different from seeing the land from the ocean.

In recent years, I have had more and more exchanges with foreign navigators. When returning from the Arctic Ocean, I passed through the United States, Central and South America, and I met navigators from different countries, and we communicated together. After sailing, the topic between countries has become a limited discourse, and more often we have to look at problems from a global perspective. Land covers only 29% of the earth’s surface, the rest is covered by oceans. The communication between sailors is a more macro concept. For example, global warming is a problem that sailors often think about, and bad weather will cause various dangers.

Zhai Mo is in Panama.Photo provided by the interviewee

  China News Agency reporter: In the 15th century, represented by Zheng He in the East and Columbus in the West, a group of navigators emerged around the world. From ancient times to the present, how has human exploration of the ocean promoted communication and exchanges between China and the West?

Zhai Mo: In the eyes of Westerners, China’s early voyages did not achieve the “Great Geographical Discovery” like the West did. In fact, no matter whether Columbus or Magellan, they took the attitude of an invader to occupy more, and then carried out material and cultural colonization, which cannot be called a great geographical discovery. Zheng He, on the other hand, was an envoy of peace, who went to the world and understood the world in a peaceful way, and did not plunder and colonize with foreign guns and cannons like the later Western navigators. I appreciate Zheng He’s voyages to the West more for the peaceful civilization exchanges between China and the rest of the world.

Zhai Mo is in French Guiana.Photo provided by the interviewee

  China News Agency reporter: The current global ocean situation is grim, with frequent problems such as overfishing, environmental pollution, climate change, and sea level rise. Conflicts and conflicts have intensified. Ocean governance has become a common issue facing the international community. As the Advocate of UNDP “Defending Nature”, how do you think countries should strengthen cooperation to protect the ocean?

Zhai Mo: In my opinion, all countries in the world should seek common ground while reserving differences, and develop together, instead of continuing the logic of robbers in the past. The sea is open to all rivers, and the peaceful use of marine resources.

Seabirds of the Arctic Ocean.Photo provided by the interviewee

There is a saying in the scientific community that “mankind originated from the ocean”, and there are marine fossils on Mount Everest and Mount Tai. Countries are like isolated islands that communicate with each other through the ocean. Therefore, human beings should respect the ocean, strengthen cooperation, and jointly protect the ocean.

Dolphins of the Arctic Ocean.Photo provided by the interviewee

  China News Agency reporter: There is a view that in the past thousands of years of history, Chinese civilization has paid more attention to the construction and development of land and borders, and it is a typical land civilization. Western countries pay more attention to the development and utilization of the ocean, which also shows the characteristics of ocean civilization in Western civilization. Do you agree with this statement?

Zhai Mo: I disagree. China has been a big maritime country in history. From the Song Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty, China’s shipbuilding technology and navigation technology were unmatched in the world. The shipwreck of “Nanhai No. 1” is an ancient ship of the Southern Song Dynasty. And Zheng He’s voyage to the West, the fleet of 27,000 people is huge. Because the humiliation of China’s modern history comes from the ocean, we have been far away from the ocean for too long. Many scholars define China as land civilization and loess civilization, which is wrong. I hope that through sailing, more people can understand China’s marine culture and marine civilization. (Finish)

  Respondent profile:

  Zhai Mo, navigator, artist, propagandist of the United Nations Development Program “Defend Nature”, ambassador of China’s navigation science popularization. Born in Tai’an, Shandong in 1968. From 2007 to 2009, he completed the feat of sailing around the world on a self-driving sailboat for a week, becoming “the first person in China to sail around the world on a single non-powered sailboat”. In 2015, it led the large-scale voyage event of “Re-walking the Maritime Silk Road in 2015”, carried out cultural, artistic, economic and trade exchanges in countries along the route, and held theme day activities in the China Pavilion of the 2015 Milan World Expo. On November 25, 2022, the first non-stop voyage around the Arctic Ocean in human history will be completed.

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