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Russian traveller Konyukhov aboard Turgoyak enters Pacific’s French Polynesia sector

February 19, 2014, 7:43 UTC+3 VLADIVOSTOK
He has already covered over 3,512 nautical miles
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Russian traveler Fyodor Konyukhov

Russian traveler Fyodor Konyukhov

© ITAR-TASS/Boris Zaitsev

VLADIVOSTOK, February 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian traveler Fyodor Konyukhov aboard the Turgoyak has been rowing across the Pacific Ocean from Chile to Australia. He has already covered over 3,512 nautical miles and has entered the sector of French Polynesia. He is to cross 520 more miles to reach the nearest island — Fatu-Hiva, the traveler’s headquarters report.

On Tuesday late in the afternoon Fyodor said he was to cover another 500 miles to the west.

“I should move up towards the equator, keep between the ninth and tenth degrees south latitude (to pass the islands safely),” Captain Konyukhov said.

He also told on the phone that finally he had got fellow travelers — birds and dolphins. Otherwise, not much news, he added.

“I have been swaying here for 58 days already, like on the swings. The waves are raising and dropping the boat day and night. I can barely imagine a different life. If it were not for the satellite telephone, I would have been cut from the world entirely.”

On Sunday, the navigation system installed on his rowboat Turgoyak detected a fishing vessel 5 miles off his boat, but Konyukhov decided not to establish any radio contacts.

“It is better not to get in contact, as often having known that a rowboat is sailing across the ocean fishermen get closer to see. These are always tense moments for me,” he said.

The traveler also said by a satellite phone he had got burns by a jellyfish. It had been caught on a spoon lure, Fyodor took it out barehanded and got burns.

“It is not a mortal burn, but it is necessary to stay cautious. In the future I will clear the lure in gloves,” Konyukhov said, adding that there were many jellyfish around his boat, but no fish or birds.

Konyukhov said the previous day in the centre of the Pacific Ocean was ideal for him. There were wind of 10-15 knots, flat waves and the night without squalls and rain.

“I enjoy my rowing and the ocean. These very days stuck in memory and force me go into the ocean again and again,” he said, adding that he was in good spirits, but had already lost 5 kilograms. Fyodor is 178 cm tall and weighs 72-73 kilograms.

Konyukhov says at the moment his thoughts focus on how to sail between the islands in French Polynesia, the Marquesas Islands and the Tuamotus, as a corridor for maneuvering is too narrow, 150 miles. There is a risk for his rowboat to be thrown ashore by unfavorable winds.

On Wednesday late in the afternoon he said during a communication session with Moscow that he had managed to catch a small squid.

“Back in 1947, on Thor Heyerdahl’s raft jumped tuna, and his crew collected baskets of flying fish and fried them; I can only dream about such profusion,” Konyukhov said.

“Nowadays the Pacific Ocean is a desert, there are no flying fish, and thus no tuna, dolphins or sharks. I keep daily notes, but I do not have much to register there,” the traveler said. Fyodor said he was fastened to the boat with a security belt all the time not to drop overboard.

“It is very complicated even for a good swimmer to catch up with a boat in a stream, so I’d rather not take risks.”

The Russian traveler is set to cross the Pacific from continent to continent, from South America to Australia, in 200 days.

His voyage began on December 22, 2013, in Chile’s Concon. To get to Australia’s Brisbane, his final destination, Konyukhov’s Turgoyak has to cover 4,571 miles.

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