Full Circle: Novara Completes Circumnavigation of the Americas

Novara returns to CamdenCAMDEN, MAINE — Five years. 175 anchorages. 32,950 miles. When Steve Brown decides to tackle a sailing adventure, he goes big.

Novara returnsOn June 10, Brown marked the end of a circumnavigation of North and South America by bringing Novara, his 60’ aluminum schooner, back to the Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer docks in Camden. A small flotilla of well-wishers ventured just outside Curtis Island to greet him and his four crewmembers. When he arrived in the inner harbor, the sixty-something adventurer tossed his docklines to one of the same people who had seen him off, almost to the day, five years earlier: LM Service Manager Simon Castle.

Lyman-Morse Service Manager Simon Castle and Novara owner/skipper Steve Brown“It’s great to be back here – Camden is a wonderful town, and this is a wonderful boatyard,” Brown said as he and his mates enjoyed a few celebratory beverages on the LM docks.

Considering the miles it had covered since departing Camden on June 18, 2014, Novara looked little the worse for wear. Sure, there’d been the steering quadrant that Brown rebuilt in Newfoundland. And the transmission that he replaced in Brazil. Not to mention the bit of engine trouble Novara experienced in Antarctica (a quick satellite phone call to Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer got Novara’s engine running again) and the various shafts and other shipboard parts that needed to be serviced along the way. Despite those challenges, Novara’s 10 mm aluminum hull plating had held up perfectly, and the 40 mm extra-thick sections in the bow, five watertight compartments, and other safety measures were never fully tested. The aero schooner rig – Novara is one of only three ever built – served the vessel’s captain and crew well, despite storms that brought winds in excess of 70 knots at times.

Novara in AntarcticaPractically any portion of Brown’s route would’ve been enough of an adventure for most sailors: Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and Baffin Island, the Northwest Passage, Bering Sea, and down the entire west coast of North and South America before tackling Antarctica, South Georgia Island, and back up the eastern Seaboard. But for this adventurer, high-latitude sailing isn’t enough. Along the way, he and his rotating crewmates tackled a variety of mountaineering challenges, including crossing the Solomon Glacier and a repeat of the Shackleton Traverse on South Georgia Island, as well as a ski mountaineering tour in Antarctica.

Novara returns to CamdenBrown, whose experience includes first ascents in the Himalayas, says he participated in as many of the climbs as possible but was constrained by his role as master of Novara. “As the owner/skipper of the boat, you’re very reluctant to leave the boat in someone else’s hands, especially when it’s tough,” he says. “Next time I’ll go as crew.”

Indeed, Brown already has plans for Novara after the vessel spends the summer in Camden, including some service work at Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer (once again under the oversight of LM Service Manager Simon Castle). After giving a series of talks at the Camden Yacht Club and at the Camden Public Library, Brown will sail Novara across the Atlantic to England and France, where he keeps a home. Additional adventures await after that crossing, though Brown is still determining precisely what they’ll be and where on the globe they’ll take place.Novara returns to Camden