She is beautiful, very beautiful. On first sight you could think she is a cover-girl for a fashion magazine, a slick high-heeled business chick from New York or a party girl in the fast set in London. The even features, the long lustrous hair, the slim perfect figure could make her any of these - But no, she is doing none of it - instead she is sailing round the world, solo. ..and she's nearly finished, with only one more ocean crossing to go.
Natasza Caban is a thirty-two year old Polish girl, who just loves sailing - so much so that she started when she was five, following her big sister into sailing in the lakes close to the Baltic sea in Poland, then moving up into the open waters outside of her home town of Ustka.
She and her sister Agnieszka continued sailing together, crossing the Atlantic once, but while Agnieszka returned to sail in Mediterranean waters, Natasza's adventurous spirit started to take her round the world of sailing. A dismasting incident in 2000 on the way back from Hobart put her into hospital, but did not stop her. She started sailing with other single handers - Brian Caldwell, who was formerly the youngest American round-world solo sailor, and with Australian John Biddlecombe.
By the time she was 22, she started dreaming about sailing round the world herself, but it took another eight years to bring the dream to fruition.
She departed Honolulu in July 2007, just after her 30th birthday, in a Sparksman and Stevens 34, already well established as a good single hander and a very sturdy boat.
(Australian David Dick, who still holds the record (maybe just about to be broken by Californian teen Zac Sunderland) as the youngest person to sail around the world, used just such a boat, as did Jesse Martin, another Australian, who still holds the non-stop unassisted round-world record.)
How Natasza acquired the boat says a lot about her determination and persistence. She first helped to deliver the Fremantle-built yacht from Australia to Honolulu.
'She waited there,' says Natasza, 'having different owners.
'Then I was looking for a boat, and struggling to find finances. Later, I did a delivery from San Diego to Hawaii, and she was still there!'
However, the boat was owned by another Australian, Mike Steward. She convinced Mike to let her begin preparing the boat even before she had the money to buy it.
'He was the first person to give me a hand. He believed in my dream, and I am very thankful to him. My next bit of luck was that Horizon Sails made sails for me, and I worked for two months, 20 hours a day to make it happen.'
Natasza admits that she did not have enough money - or the time - to complete all the preparations that she wanted.
'I only did what was important because the hurricane season was not far off and I had to get started.'
So on July 27, 2007, Natasza set out from Honolulu to Vanuatu. Since then, she has travelled to Papua New Guinea, Darwin, Cocos Keeling, Reunion Island, along the coast of South Africa, then across the Atlantic Ocean via St Helena, and has just now passed through the Panama Canal.
She has just one more leg to go to join that very small contingent of women who have sailed solo round the world.
Good luck for your last leg Natasza. Sail-World will be bringing you more news from Natasza as she nears the end of her voyage.
by Nancy Knudsen 12:52 AM Tue 30 Jun 2009