"The boat seemed to be falling apart, and I fell apart as a result," Morgan says now. He eventually decided to put in to Bermuda for repairs. It was quickly determined that the autopilots simply could not handle a boat as heavy as Promise. After heavier-duty autopilots were installed, Easton, one of the psychologists, studied the films and was shocked. "Very heavy. Tough to watch," he recalls. "Dodge left in his tuxedo and three days later he was a completely changed person. He had named his autopilot, which was always growling, the Hungry Bear. He had given a name to a bird. And right to the last day he was considering sailing into the southern ocean with a defective autopilot." Three weeks later, the new autopilots in place, Morgan started again, this time from Bermuda.
"The first three weeks it was very painful to be away," Morgan says. "Then I got used to my solitude and got out of the way of it." He had tapes of his favorite music—Dixieland—on board, plus voice recordings of Manny and their children. "I played those almost immediately," he says. "But I never listened to the music. It reminded me too much of people, of what I was away from. I had to avoid those things."
Initially sailing south from Bermuda, he made good time through the Atlantic, averaging 175 nautical miles a day, a pace he was able to maintain throughout the voyage. Typically, he would rise at 5:30 a.m., check the boat, then return to his cabin to shave and have his morning coffee. Then, weather permitting, he would fix whatever needed fixing. There was always some little nagging something—frayed running lines, a leaky fuel tank. He would have brunch at 11. Manny had prepared a rotating 21-day meal cycle, intended to supply Dodge with a daily diet of 2,700 calories: 30% fats, 12% protein, 58% carbohydrates. American Promise carried enough provisions for 280 days at sea—1,609 pounds' worth of freeze-dried, precooked, vacuum-packed and canned vegetables, fruits and meats. All very nutritional, right? So what were the only things that Morgan ran out of? Cold cereal and popcorn. And, of course, the case of beer that had been inadvertently left on board by some dockhands during the summer. Morgan, never a beer drinker, developed a taste for the stuff only after he discovered it at the bottom of a refrigerator late in the voyage.
At noontime, three times a week, Morgan would use a sextant to fix his position. He could also track his progress by SatNav, which receives signals from five satellites in fixed-position orbits above the earth. In the afternoons, he would make entries in his log, which would grow to some 60,000 words by the time he returned; sometimes he would read. Of the books that he brought along, he liked best those about people battling to overcome hardships—Victoria Poole's Thursday's Child, about a boy who needs a heart transplant, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Another of his favorites was Farley Mowat's Sea of Slaughter, "which," says Morgan, "has such respect for all things living. I experienced that, too, throughout my trip." After dinner, at sunset, he would faithfully fill out his shrink tests. Then he would go to bed, getting up every two hours or so to trim the sails and take a tour of the boat. He averaged eight hours' sleep a night.
"It's a whole long series of little victories that make up a voyage," he says. "It's not a big thing. It's like they say: 'Ninety-five percent of winning is showing up.' I showed up every day. That's the thing that really grinds on you."
By Christmas, Promise had rounded the Cape of Good Hope and was heading into the Indian Ocean. Manny and the Morgan children, Kim, 9, and Hoyt, 12, had sent along some gifts for Dodge to open—a rum cake, a poem, a toaster, some Super Glue. For his birthday, Jan. 15, he got a telescope with which to look for Halley's comet (he never found it). He was able to make radio contact with his family throughout most of the voyage, so it was not as if he was completely out of touch. He also spoke with his weather guru, Bob Rice of Weather Services in Bedford, Mass., an average of twice a week, so he was rarely surprised by storms. Promise's most productive day was Morgan's birthday, when she covered 236 miles. The least progress he made in a day was 60 miles. By Jan. 27 he was south of New Zealand, halfway through the trip.
And becalmed. "I'm in the Screaming 50s and there's no wind," he radioed to Manny, invoking the name given to those latitudes by sailors lashed about in the region's usually fierce gales. Forty-foot swells rolled the boat as it lolled. "I must be going crazy."
Dodge asked for, and received, permission to take the series of shrink tests that Easton and Nasby had prepared specially for the mid-point of the journey. "Do you think you are good-looking?" was one of the questions. "Are you the life of the party?" was another.
I AM THE ONLY PARTY HERE!
But the tests seemed to raise his spirits. The psychologists, after all, were apparently daffier than he was.