Hurricane winds force ‘Righteous’ sailor to abandon Atlantic crossing – but he’ll be back

Bartosz Biliński will hoist the Polish flag again next year, for his second attempt to cross the Atlantic. Righteous Across

Hurricane Chris, which raged east of the United Stated forced the sailor to seek shelter in the port of Halifax. The high possibility of another storm brewing made it imprudent to attempt to cross the Atlantic in his small yacht.

A Polish sailor who planned to sail across the Atlantic single-handedly has been forced to postpone his voyage because of hurricane winds.

Capt. Bartosz Biliński had planned to sail solo from New York to Plymouth on a 6,5-meters mini class yacht. The ship, named Witold after World War II heroes Jan Karski, whose codename was ‘Witold’, and Witold Pilecki, had its sides covered with names of the Righteous Among the Nations – Poles, who despite the great personal peril put their lives in danger to save their Jewish neighbours from the Holocaust.

Witold Pilecki smuggled himself inside Auschwitz death camp to expose the horrors of what was happening there, while Jan Karski was the first man to tell the west about the Holocaust.

Biliński’s hope was that the message about their deeds would be carried between people and vessels he met along the way, reaching further than his small yacht could. To commemorate the brave Poles, who helped Jews during the war, but were never officially recognized, he launched a campaign to record the deeds of the unknown Righteous.

Yet fate had a different plan. Hurricane Chris, which raged east of the United Stated forced the sailor to seek shelter in the port of Halifax. The high possibility of another storm brewing made it imprudent to attempt to cross the Atlantic in a yacht this small.

He told The First News he will now attempt to cross the Atlantic again next year: “First and foremost I hope the weather conditions and the wind will be favourable, so that I will be able to sail before the hurricane season. The ship doesn’t need any improvements, everything works, including me. Before the trip I will only sleep and eat a little less, to accustom my body to the rigor and routine of the ocean. Just like this time,” he wrote via messenger.

Earlier, on Friday, July 13th he told The First News: “Today marks the 18th anniversary of Jan Karski "Witold" passing away. He died in Washington on July 13th, 2000. His memory will live forever. Please read more about him today.

“Risking life is something Witold - Karski, Witold Pilecki and those brave people whose names are on the sides of Witold have done for a great cause. Saving life of their neighbours and the unknowns (sic). They had a choice and they did the right thing.

“Choices I have to make are so little and not important that I will not even try to compare them to those made and mentioned above, but my choices definitely should not involve risking my life or risking the boat. Or requesting lifesaving help.

“It appears that another hurricane was forming from the remnants of Beryl and was to follow Chris. Leaving now for the UK could end with yet another coming back, or worse. After consultations with my friends Zbigniew Gutkowski, Radek Kowalczyk, Andrzej Piotrowski, Edward Walentynowicz, Mike Keane, each and all of them exceptional sailors, while I am stubborn and persistent, I have decided to come back to New York, continue the project in the New York area this season, spreading information of the Righteous and Witolds by taking part in long distance regattas and then set sail again next June.

“I believe this is a good choice and I thank my friends for their good advice. I will be leaving Halifax continuing to inform the vessels of the Righteous and the project. In addition, almost everyone here at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron knows about them now. Lastly, Jan Skora, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland came to Witold yesterday and, impressed by the work children have done, assured me that he will inform as many people as possible of the project and especially of the Righteous.”

He added that in the meantime he plans to promote the names of the Righteous in smaller events. He said: “There are several long distance regatta in which I will participate. Everyone will ask about the names [on the side of the yacht].”