Eric Friedli is on the yacht ‘Compay’. He has been around. Not around the world. Considering the extent of his travels over the past 8 years it is actually amazing he hasn’t circumnavigated just by pure chance. But he hasn’t , and has no plans to do so.
‘Compay’ is a stock Elan 40 that Eric bought from the factory in Slovenia 8 years ago.
He is a personable fellow in his early forties , so over a coffee , I asked him to give me the short version of his sailing travels since getting the boat. You might need an atlas to follow this.
Here is a summary of where he has sailed since then :
Gibraltar to Canaries to Cabo Verde to Brazil. BA to Rio to Montevideo and back to BA.
Across the Altantic to Capetown, then to Durban, Madagascar , the Seychelles , and on to Thailand and past the Maldives. He spent 9 months in SE Asia : Malaysia , Str of Malacca ,Singapore , Borneo, and on to Phillipines. On to Vanuatu for 2 1/2 months then New Caledonia, Sydney , Tasmania. Across the Tasman Sea to Stewart Island and then Nelson on the S island of NZ where he stayed for 9 months.
From NZ he sailed to Raivavae in the Australs and on to Rapa Iti, Iles Gambier, Pitcairn Island, Marquesas , then on to Osaka in Japan.
In Japan he went south to Ishiyaki (formerly Bonin), then on to Hong Kong , Luzon (back in the Phillipines) , to Taiwan ,and returned to Japan.
From Japan , in the south he sailed to Kiska in the Aleutians, on to Dutch Hbr , Kodiak and Prince William Sound, Yakutat , Sitka before jumping off to sail down the W side of Haida Gwaii , visiting Port Louis (Kiokathli) and then on south to Kyuquot on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In to Hotsprings Cove , Ucluelet , Sidney (Van Is) and Friday Harbour USA. In October he sailed down to San Francisco , opting not to spend a winter in BC or Washington.
He sailed down around Cabo San Lucas and north up to Topolobampo to take the train into the Copper Canyon in the Sierra Madre mountains. On to Santa Rosalia , then back to Guatmas to visit friends , Alicia and Alberto on ‘Onverra’. On to Lapaz and then down the Mexican coast to Huatulco , Costa Rica , and Panama. , Las Perlas Islands , back to Panama , Ecuador , and then 32 days to Valdivia in Chile, arriving last December.
He then spent 3 months sailing down to Laguna San Rafael in the channels of Patagonia of Chile before returning to Valdivia, where I met him.
He mostly sails alone , but occasionally with friends, if they are available.
This is not a special boat. A fast production boat. He maintains it impeccably. The starboard toerail is damaged from a near miss from a ship in the Inland Sea of Japan. No windvane , only a standard autopilot.
He has a forced air heater but NEVER uses it : “too much energy and too complicated”. But , in Chile, he bought one of these really warm insulated work suits , as did I.
He worked for years in a business in Switzerland that repairs cars, first in the shop , then in the office. He did about 10 transatlantic yacht deliveries during that time.
He says he left to sail for a year. It seems that he really likes the life. He returned to Switzerland for the first time in 8 years recently to take care of ‘paperwork’, and see family.
Sometime , several years ago , he spent several months in a residential program in Central America learning Spanish. Along with English and French. So that’s handy.
What a long route to travel. Eric’s is probably not a particularly unusual story. Like many others, but perhaps a little more intense than many. 80,000 sea miles, mas o menos.