Death of prolific sailor and author

Hal Roth, the 3-time circumnavigator and prolific author of practical cruising books, has died. He died on Saturday aged 81, after a long battle with lung cancer.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1927,  Roth saw service as an aviator during World War II and the Korean war. In 1962 he and his wife Margaret started small-boat sailing and five years later embarked on a series of voyages in an 11m yacht. 

They sailed around the Pacific via Tahiti, Japan, the Aleutian islands, and Alaska and then on to South America, logging some 150,000 miles.

In 1986, Roth entered the BOC Around Alone solo round the world race (now the Velux 5 Oceans) in a Santa Cruz 50, American Flag, and completed the circumnavigation in 171 days to finish 4th in class. In 1990, hereturned to compete in the race again after lightening the boat, adding water ballast and a taller rig but this time took 211 days after suffering a major knock-down. Roth wrote: “The capsize in the Indian ocean was both the high and low point in my life. To see the keel pointing straight up when I was alongside in the water was something I won’t forget. And when the yacht rolled back up and the mast appeared unbroken with the water streaming off, seemed like a biblical experience.”

Hal Roth’s books included Pathway in the Sky (1965), Two on a Big Ocean (1972), Two Against Cape Horn (1975), After 50,000 miles (1992), and Handling Storms at Sea (2008). A book he was working on before he died, We Followed Odysseus, will be published next year.