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Sailing...

…there was a great deal of pleasure in accomplishing something without any help from anyone.
Stanley Jablonski on his 1963 trip across the Atlantic

Black and white photograph of the cover of the magazine Lonely Atlantic Crossing. The title of the magazine are at the top in Polish and bottom in English. In the center of the cover is a photograph of Stanely Jablonski's sailboat the Amethyst. A head and shoulders photograph of Stanley Jablonski is inset in the upper left corner of the sailboat picture. Color map of the route Stanley Jablonski sailed from Gdansk, Poland to Norfolk, VA across the Atlantic Ocean from May 31 to September 14, 1963.
May 31 to September 14, 1963:
107 days, 6000 miles

Sailing consumed Stanley Jablonski's free time. As a young man he had traveled the world in the merchant marine. Later, after becoming a librarian and husband, he and Lucille would often see sailboats at Annapolis and on the Chesapeake and Stanley would tell her that sailing looked like something he’d like to learn.

In the early 1960s after some untrained exploits on the water, he took piloting lessons from the Potomac River Power Squadron on the Chesapeake. Soon he wanted a boat of his own. He admired a 30-foot sloop, a type known generically as "Amethyst," and learned that it was made in his native Poland. In 1963 Stanley decided to buy one. He picked it up personally from the boatbuilders in Poland and set out to sail it home to America.

He left Gdansk on May 31, 1963. One hundred and seven days later he arrived at Norfolk, Va. The accompanying map outlines his route and provides details of some of the more interesting occurrences along the way.

Sailing remained a singular passion of his for the rest of his life. He owned and sailed a succession of boats over the years. In 1973 he even duplicated his transatlantic feat. Even after he stopped sailing in the 1980s Stanley still subscribed to sailing magazines, eagerly devouring each new issue as he received it.

Gdansk, Poland – May 31

He departed in his 30-foot sloop, Amethyst. For navigation he had a compass, charts, and a portable transistor radio.

Baltic Sea - June

East Germans boarded the 'Amethyst,' accusing Jablonski of entering territorial waters.

Baltic Sea, near Kiel Canal - June

High winds and rough seas splintered his mast. His ship had no lights. He shot 25 distress rockets but none of the passing ships stopped. Finally a German ship offered to tow him to shore. But this would have given them salvage rights to his boat. All Stanley wanted was directions. Since he refused a tow "they refused to tell me in which direction to go. They left me there."

Denmark & Holland - June

Somehow, Stanley managed to find his way. Danish villagers helped him replace his mast. In Zeebrugge, Holland he made final repairs.

Weymouth, England – June or July

He had intended to take the northern route across the Atlantic, but rough conditions in the English Channel changed his mind. "It was so cold my hands ached for days." While at Weymouth a stranger gave Stanley a direction finder to add to his navigational tools.

Canary Islands - July

As he approached the Canary Islands marine growth on his hull had reduced his speed to 2 knots. He stopped at Las Palmas to scrape it off. "It looked like spinach…it even smelled – and tasted – like spinach." He left the Canaries on August 1.

Atlantic Ocean - August

While crossing the Atlantic, he found that he hadn't accounted for the weather's rapid deterioration of his clothing. One solution was to sail in the buff, although as he said, "I had to be on the lookout for ships."

Atlantic Ocean – August

On two occasions, high winds blew Stanley's glasses off his head and into the sea. Fortunately he had brought along a third pair.

Atlantic Ocean – August 24

By monitoring his transistor radio for news broadcasts, Stanley heard about Hurricane Beulah. One weather report gave enough information about its course for Stanley to realize that he couldn't entirely avoid it. About 1000 miles from the U.S. coastline he encountered rain that "appeared to rush horizontally, like a huge waterfall gone mad" and a wind with a "roar that drowned out every other sound" and "seemed to blow on forever."

North Carolina Coast - September

Storms so thoroughly inundated his boat off Cape Hatteras that he slept wet for 2 nights. On the 3rd night couldn’t even sleep.

Virginia Coast - September

Used transistor radio and direction finder to locate the lightship ‘Chesapeake,’ which sailed at the mouth of Chesapeake bay. A pervasive daytime fog almost caused him to collide with the lightship.

Virginia Coast – September 14

Off Ocean View, Va. a 30-knot northeaster severed his anchor line during the night. Several days earlier his auxiliary engine had died. To Stanley’s great disappointment, the Coast Guard towed the ‘Amethyst’ the final few miles to Norfolk.

Five black and white photographs of Stanley Jablonski sailing on his 30-foot sloop 'Amethyst' in 1963. The far left image is of Stanely Jablonki's sailbot 'Amethyst'. The next image is Stanley Jablonski at the stern of 'Amethyst' with another unknown gentleman. The center image is a head and shoulders view of Stanley Jablonski on the 'Amethyst'. The next image is a three-quarters length photograph of Stanley Jablonski standing on a pier with his arms crossed. The right image is of Stanley Jablonski standing on the 'Amethyst' with his right knee resting on the boat and his left arm resting on the knee.