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Sailing the Hudson with adventurer Reid Stowe

Photo from New York Magazine

Within the first ten minutes of boarding the Anne, Reid Stowe’s hand-built, 70-foot-long gaff-rigged schooner, he’s telling me about the tantric exercises he first practiced in his early twenties, while traveling between four continents on his first boat, a hand-built catamaran. “I channelled my sexual energy into spiritual energy,” he said. Just how does one do that? “You don’t ejaculate,’” he said. “You keep it all in.” He brings it up for a legit reason (though I’d wager Reid could wax tantric without prompting). We’re talking about how even though he has a literary agent no one will publish his book. ”That might be kind of a tough sell,” I said, trying to reason with him. “You know, to men – to not ejaculate.” He comes right back with, “Not if they see how it helped me.”

And who knows, maybe he’s really onto something. It clearly worked for him. At 59-years-old he’s ruggedly handsome and super fit, moving sprightly around his boat, tirelessly tying and untying ropes and steering the Anne smoothly down the Hudson. Reid lives on his boat along with his girlfriend Soanya and their 3-year-old son Darshen, who’s easily smarter than any other kid his age I’ve ever met. He leaps around the boat, interacting with adults with an ease uncommon in someone so young.

After some quick preparations we take off. The wind was against us that day, but Reid can set up the sails without any help, if need be. We were on our way to a pirate festival in Red Hook, Brooklyn from where he was docked in Jersey City (that’s right, I crossed the NY/NJ line for this man). It was my first time on a sailboat, and the gentle rocking of the waves and the warmth of the late July sun lulled me to sleep in a thick coil of rope where I curled up and dozed. The two-hour trip was old hat for Reid, whose last major voyage was his 1,000 Days at Sea. Actually, he spent 1,152 days on the open water never once seeing land in order to experience, among other things, the elusive overview effect, a “transcendental, euphoric feeling of universal connection” experienced by sailors and astronauts alike upon looking down at the Earth from space.

Maybe it’s easy to discredit this as hippe-dippie stuff, especially when Reid talks about goddess energy and cosmic love, but being all alone in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from land and looking out over the bow of your ship and seeing, spread before you, the actual curvature of the whole Earth – that’s an experience not to be derided or taken lightly. Frankly, the fact that Reid has sailed completely alone for extremely long stretches of time and come back alive is a miracle to me, and I’m surprised that the media isn’t hounding him for the movie rights. Until that happens you can read about his adventures on his blog or in the excellent New York Magazine profile.