Polish Man Begins Round-the-World Sail in a Boat He Built in His Barn

On September 19, Arkadiusz Pawelek set sail from the Polish port outpost of Świnoujście bound for a 65,000km journey in a one-of-a-kind boat.

Pawelek has spent the last two years building his sailboat, “Elblag,” in a barn.

Pawelek’s project didn’t look like much at first. In fact, his first-ever Instagram post served to celebrate the fact that he had turned a few pieces of plywood into the vessel’s first components.

“Not long ago it was just a pile of boards and now there are blocks,” he commented (auto-translated) with the wink emoji, appearing to affect a touch of pride. “They will be made into a yacht for the Southern Ocean.” A rooster crows partway through the video.

The Southern Ocean is the body of water encircling Antarctica. That’s where he started heading on Monday, the Polish news outlet Onet reported.

Live tracking an inscrutable sailor

One important thing is for sure about Pawelek’s voyage: He’s going for it. You can track him and “Elblag” here. As of now, it looks like he’s headed roughly for Copenhagen, Denmark, via a predominantly northbound course.

Pawełek as of late afternoon Copenhagen time, Sept. 23. Screen capture: Garmin


From what other information is available, he seems not to be doing this for the Instagram likes. In a post that interrupts the boat-building content, he trims a horse’s hoof — apparently in the same barn where he’s building the boat. A politically and religiously subversive statement combining Virgin Mary imagery and anti-tank weaponry later appears in the tiles, just after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It looks like “Vectra” sponsors Pawelek, but if you Google that term in English, you get zero results for any company that looks like a potential boat sponsor. “Elblag” itself is a tidy little craft, although rudimentarily furnished. Pawelek shared the following scrap of information with Onet. Reading it, one word comes to mind: Spartan.

“I don’t have any bunk there, I will sleep on the floor. There is a small table that will serve as a navigation table and possibly to eat something on it. The water I drink will be desalinated. I will lose weight for sure because I have half a kilo a day allocated to me. Thirty-five thousand nautical miles. The journey will take me no less than 300 days.”

If spending a year sleeping on the floor of a boat sounds punishing to you, you’re not alone. But Pawelek seems to be cut from a different cloth.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.