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Time away from land, stress

College's sloop will complete a trip around South America in seven legs by mid-June.

October 29, 2010|By Joanna Clay, joanna.clay@latimes.com
  • PROVISIONS ABOARD - Mark Templin loads a box of choice cut meats onto the Alaska Eagle as the boat prepares for a 24-day, no land-fall trip to South America. The chef, Jerome Carman, will cook on a stove that moves with the rocking of the boat, and a floor that is designed to keep his feet steady during the cooking process. The 65-foot sloop sets sail Saturday from Orange Coast College's Sailing headquarters in Newport Harbor. *** []
PROVISIONS ABOARD - Mark Templin loads a box of choice… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Nine Orange Coast College students will board the Alaska Eagle Saturday morning, embarking on the first leg of an eight-month trip from Newport Beach to South America.

The 65-foot sloop will make its first stop at Easter Island, and then a new crew of sailors will come aboard for the next leg, to Puerto Montt, Chile. From there the trip will continue to Cape Horn, Argentina, South Georgia Island, Uruguay and Brazil.

The Alaska Eagle was obtained by the college in 1982 and has notched more than 500,000 miles with OCC's School of Sailing and Seamanship. The voyages are all funded by the students themselves and the costs average about $300 a day.

The captain, Karen Prioleau, is no rookie when it comes to circumnavigating the globe by sea. The 73-year-old skipper did her first ocean crossing as a captain for OCC in 1996. Ever since, she's been doing at least one open ocean voyage a year. However, this trip will be her longest.

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She eagerly awaits the first leg with no qualms about the lack of dry land.

"You become your own small floating city. [There is] something special, absolutely," she said. "It's the immediacy. Your life is boiled down to very simple terms."

The first leg will be one of the most challenging because it will take 24 days to reach one of the world's most remote and mysterious locales off the coast of Chile.

Gary Ige, an engineer with Boeing, needs the time to disconnect from the land — physically and mentally.

"It's time to get away from civilization," he said. "You get so wrapped up with work. It's good to do something different sometimes."

The sailor is no novice and will be tallying his seventh trip on the Alaska Eagle, his eighth with OCC and his second alongside Prioleau. Although he's no stranger to the high seas, it'll be his first time on the island. He said the "whole mystery of it" attracted him to the leg.

Some sailors aren't as serious about the ocean crossing.

Steve Snider and Gil Greenwood came from Tulsa, Okla., for the trip. At 62, Snider has three trips on the Eagle under his belt, but this will be Greenwood's first.

"I had to listen to this guy talk about all his great adventures on the Alaska Eagle," Greenwood said about his fishing buddy. "When this leg came advertised, it just seemed like the thing to do."

Snider originally heard about OCC's trips through an advertisement in a magazine, which he showed to his wife.

"I said 'That looks like fun' and before you know it, we were here," he said.

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