Stanley Paris, left, and Lyman-Morse project manager Lance Buchanan stand inside the hull mold of the Kiwi Spirit, which Paris plans to sail around the globe next year.
By Edward D. Murphy
THOMASTON — There's an awful lot of Maine in the Kiwi Spirit.
The sailboat that Stanley Paris hopes will take him around the world -- nonstop and solo -- is being built in Thomaston, by Lyman-Morse Boatbuilders.
Paris, a New Zealander with dual American citizenship, has a home Down East, in South Addison.
And part of the inspiration for his effort is the late Maine businessman Dodge Morgan, who 26 years ago became the first American to sail around the world alone without stopping -- a voyage that took 150 days.
"I should be done in 120 days," Paris said, "or it's going to disappoint a lot of people, because the technology has come a long way" since Morgan set off from Portland in the American Promise in the fall of 1985.
Paris, 74, who founded a university that prepares students for careers in health care, is spending about $3 million on the Kiwi Spirit, which was designed by another New Zealander, Bruce Farr.
He chose Lyman-Morse as the builder, he said, because the yard's owner, Cabot Lyman, is a noted long-distance sailor and the company's workers include sailors who have crewed on America's Cup contenders.
Paris showed off the Kiwi Spirit on Wednesday. The boat is in three pieces in two buildings at Lyman-Morse: the hull and the deck in one building, and the interior -- being built on a mock-up of the hull -- in the other.
At first glance, the 63-foot-long boat looks like an upscale cruiser, with an expansive galley, cabinetry that will hold a washer-dryer combo, three heads with showers, and an owner's stateroom with a platform for the bed.
But those are temporary luxuries. Before he embarks from St. Augustine, Fla., in November 2013, Paris will have the Kiwi Spirit stripped to its essentials, with the generator, engine and propellers removed.
Only one head will remain operable. Heavy equipment, including air conditioning units, will be taken out. The two guest cabins will be stripped, and most of the floor will be removed.
The bed will be taken out and Paris will sleep either in the cockpit, on a pull-down cot in the salon, or in a "survival seat" at his navigation station, which will be fitted with seat belts and a spring-like base to keep the seat stable even if the Kiwi Spirit is rolling in heavy seas. Paris doesn't expect to sleep more than 45 minutes at a stretch.
Paris will be 76 when his voyage begins. Why would he put himself through so much?
"I always look for physical challenges," he said. "That's why people climb and ski and all of that -- you push it to the limit."
Paris embodies that spirit. He has completed the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii. In 1986, the year Morgan completed his sail around the world, Paris swam the English Channel.
Ask Paris what he did for a living that enables him to embark on such challenges, and he says simply that he was a physical therapist. Press him, and you learn that he founded the University of St. Augustine, a college for health care providers with campuses in Florida and California. He retired in 2007.
Paris is attacking the around-the-world challenge differently from the way Morgan did.
The American Promise, which today is tied up at a marina in Kittery, is 3 feet shorter than the Kiwi Spirit will be, yet it weighs more than twice as much.
Paris said he's trading off the American Promise's ability to plow through heavy seas for a boat that's likely to get tossed about more, but will cover a lot more ocean in less time.
A weighted keel -- something that didn't exist when the American Promise was built -- will provide some stability.
The Kiwi Spirit will have plenty of high-tech, weight-saving advances.
Project manager Lance Buchanan points out special lightweight plywood in some parts of the interior, and plastic honeycombs sandwiched between wood exteriors elsewhere. Stiff Corecell foam for the hull seems barely heavier than Styrofoam.
Other technological advances should help Paris complete the circumnavigation quicker than Morgan did.
For instance, Paris will check in daily with a weather-based routing service that will suggest headings to catch maximum winds while avoiding bad weather -- something Morgan certainly didn't have.
An autopilot system will let Paris take breaks for meals and those short sleeps. Paris noted that when his son sailed around the world -- with stops -- a few years ago, he didn't take a life jacket, figuring that if he fell overboard, the boat would continue on autopilot and he'd be able to do no more than watch it get smaller in the distance.
Paris will have a device that clips to his belt. If he falls overboard, it will alert the autopilot to head into the wind, which should slow or stop the boat long enough to let Paris swim to it and pull down a ladder mounted on the stern for just such a situation.
He also will have a personal emergency locator.
Paris will make his trip green. Morgan had a gas-powered generator to provide electricity. Paris will use wind and hydro turbines powered by the Kiwi Spirit's forward motion. Solar cells on deck will help charge lithium-ion batteries that should hold three days' supply of electricity.
That means Paris won't need any gasoline, propane or butane, and won't leave any carbon emissions in his wake.
Once the Kiwi Spirit is launched, in August, Paris will embark on sea trials and a few long-distance races to familiarize himself with the boat. He will make final preparations for more than three months at sea, during which he will not be allowed to accept any assistance.
Like Morgan, Paris plans to officially begin and end his trip around the world in Bermuda.
He said his meals will consist of freeze-dried food, and he will take vitamins in addition to a daily drug to control his high cholesterol.
"I haven't figured out how to freeze-dry wine," Paris noted, so he'll have to forgo his preferred two glasses a night. Instead, he's taste-testing Scotch and rum, which require less volume to pack the same punch.
Paris won't be quite as alone as Morgan was.
Morgan, who participated in a college study of isolation during his voyage, had to rely on a radio for communications with shore. That could require hours of fiddling for a signal.
Advances in communications will let people on dry land track Paris' progress with GPS precision, and he will be able to use a satellite phone to ask Lyman-Morse workers for repair advice or just to hear a friendly voice.
"I can call anywhere for 80 cents a minute," he said.
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:
Stanley Paris with a depiction of the completed sailboat.
At Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding of Thomaston, Stanley Paris gets a bird’s-eye view Wednesday as workers construct the interior of his Paris 63 sailboat below.
Dodge Morgan stands next to a model of his boat, American Promise. He sailed the boat around the world solo 26 years ago. The Maine businessman died in 2010 at the age of 78.