Not the Mayflower, but Close: Greta Thunberg Prepares to Sail for America

Not the Mayflower, but Close: Greta Thunberg Prepares to Sail for America


Boris Hermann, the 38-year-old German captain, said he had crossed the Atlantic many times. In fact, he has sailed around the world in this yacht, finding routes where the wind was in his back, steering it through rain and darkness. This trip, though, would be different. “I feel a special responsibility also because it’s an important trip for Greta and we promised to bring her over,” he said. “I admire her leadership.”

The captain said he would try to take a southerly route to the United States to avoid the strongest headwinds, to find what he called the “softest” variations. If the wind is calm, it could be smooth sailing and his passengers would be able to relax and read. Or, there could be gusts of wind and rain.

There are two beds for Ms. Thunberg and her father, Svante, who is accompanying her. The others on the voyage — Mr. Hermann, the skipper; Pierre Casiraghi, the head of the Malizia II racing team; and a documentary filmmaker named Nathan Grossman — plan to sleep on beanbags. The boat has a motor and generator in the event of an emergency. The slogan on the mainsail was chosen by Ms. Thunberg. “Unite Behind the Science,” it reads.

Ms. Thunberg will be close to Mr. Hermann’s age in 2040, which is when, scientists say, climate catastrophes could strike the world unless we move swiftly away from a fossil fuel based economy.

“I have no idea how the world is going to look,” she said. Either the world will have tackled the problem in time, she went on, or it will have crossed what scientists call “tipping points,” beyond which it’s impossible to return to normal weather patterns.

“I can’t really start planning my future,” she said.

That profound uncertainty animates the activism of many people of her generation. It explains, in large part, why she is taking this voyage across the ocean — and why, for the voyage, she wants to focus on the basics.

“My goal is to feel as good as possible during the trip,” she said.



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