«In my travels I am looking for an explanation of the meaning of life. I want to know why a person is born, matures, passes through many challenges, marries, brings children into the world and then dies – and the same happens with his children. Over and over again».
Legendary captain Fedor Konyukhov was born Dec. 12, 1951 on the Azov coast, and from childhood aspired to travel, discovering the diversity of the world.
The first expedition carried a young traveler at 15 years old – across the Sea of Azov on a fishing boat. By the age of 50 he has made more than 40 unique expeditions and ascents, reflecting own experiences in paintings and books. He has made four voyages round the world, crossed the Atlantic 15 times, once in a rowboat. He was the first of the travelers who has reached the five poles of the world: the North (three times), South, Pole of relative inaccessibility in the Arctic Ocean, Mount Everest (pole of height), Cape Horn (the pole of sailors).
– Few people know that man feels when he is alone in the ocean ... Have you ever endure what described in the Hemingway's story «Old Man and the Sea»?.. Have you experienced what Columbus felt?
– When you are in the ocean things like money, television, politics do not exist, it is a mirage. You don’t believe in it. But when we return and begin to put together an expedition, we must all do this again. But romance must always be on the first place. We're all romantics. We need speed, the ocean ... We need to manage large sails ... But in order to organize a successful expedition we cannot count on luck alone. We must be romantic and adventurous at the same time. You should be able to take risks, to take a lot of things in consideration, and to take responsibility. I believe that everything in the world is moving on romanticism and adventure. There will be no discoveries without these qualities. In the dictionary you will find: «adventure is a bold venture». Later the original meaning of this word was lost. Columbus knew that he is heading to the land, but was not sure about it till the end.
– Do you think the doubts were in Columbus mind on the road?
– Man experiences only love and doubts. If he does not doubt, he will not love, not feel the fear of pain, he would lose the most beautiful human qualities. Even the fear must be cherished. The shark in the ocean the one that does not feel anything and is not afraid of anything, has no doubt. People in doubt are much more interesting than people that are certain. There is no one in this world who reached the truth. Jesus Christ is the truth. And people interpret differently who he is. Truly, the only fact is: the Creator exists. He created the Universe, he created the mind ... Of course Columbus had doubts, he did not know whether he would find another road to India ...
– Tell me who of travelers inspires you to new achievements?
– In addition to these recognized great explorers like Cook, Amundsen, Sedov, I will name Naomi Uemura, who opened the era of single travelers. There are some restrictions on single-trip – some things you could do, but some things are prohibited. I want to break these restrictions. Not because I am such breaking rules person but because I believe humans should not be restricted in anything. Humans have unlimited potentials – physical as well as spiritual.
– You took with you a lot of books on Atlantic trip. Did you have time to read it?
– Yes, at least two pages a day. Humans should relax. I take only those books that inspire me: «Lives of the Saints», «Citadel» by Saint-Exupery, «Woman in the Dunes» by Kobo Abe, «Don Quixote» by Cervantes ... I don’t want to read philosophers. I do not want to listen to any man made music. The universal music surrounds you. Those sounds are much better than all what humanity can create. (Do not think that I do not like Beethoven!) The only thing you miss there is human voice. There are no voices in the ocean, only sounds: moaning whales, dolphins squeak ... After spending 220 days in the ocean, you want to see any person. Anyone, man, old woman, a child ... it does not matter.
– Did you see any mirages?
– Yes, I did. You begin to fear the large space in the ocean. It's unbounded. There is no one for thousands of miles. There is the abyss above you, under you, and you will get lost in this space. You begin to talk with God, not to be lost in all this space. And this is the first step, but there will be many. One day you get lost in yourself or something new starts in you. For example, you are standing at the wheel and see how Fedor Konyukhov furls sails, cooks in the kitchen. You get lost in it; you lose and can't understand yourself. Especially in the «Roaring Forties» (the name given by sailors to oceanic space between 40 ° and 50 ° latitude in the Southern Hemisphere, where strong and steady west winds blow. – Ed.) They are called so because there is always a storm, a hurricane, the whistling wind all the time ... And all this is howling constantly. You can lose your mind. But all of a sudden this howling turns into music. And this music is so beautiful, timeless … it continues indefinitely. At one point you wish it to stop. But it continues because the yacht is sailing nonstop, the wind is blowing nonstop … And listening to this music you start to realize that such music does not exists on Earth. Why don’t we organize such expedition where near Cape Horn the composers would stand on deck? They would stand among « Roaring Forties», listening, and then composing the music …
– Is there such a land, even in your dreams, which you find so beautiful that you do not want to leave it?
– Yes, this land is the Wrangel Bay in the Far East. I have always lived there and I will live there in future. I travelled a lot and that's what I can tell: in the world there is not a single country that would be absolutely perfect politically and economically. And there is no country I have seen, which would be ugly in nature. We have a beautiful snow, and somewhere the sand is beautiful. Our steppes are beautiful, but somewhere there is beautiful jungle ... And I have never seen the people, which would be ugly. All they are beautiful, if they live in harmony with nature. And it is usually the place where they always lived; where they were born ... I would like to live in Russia.
INTERVIEW | Inna Mishina
WEBSITE | Fedor Konyukhov