STAMFORD — Longtime Shippan resident and recreational sailor David Tunick has been preparing for most of his life, and in particular the past three years, for a voyage he plans to take this spring.

At the end of May, the 78-year-old plans to embark on a journey of around 5,000 nautical miles from Spain to Connecticut on his personal sailboat. He said he would make the trip alone and only make stops if he encountered major problems.

“I love being alone in the ocean,” Tunick said, especially at night under the stars and the moon. “I mean, I love having guests when we’re on the coast – whether it’s Cape Cod, Sweden, Norway or, anywhere, Spain. I love having guests and sharing the experience. But in the ocean, I like to be alone.

It won’t be the first time that Tunick will be “alone”. He said he has been on solo trips for more than 40 years, including to Bermuda, Maine and across the North Sea.

Tunick sailed alone from Connecticut to England about 20 years ago. It was a 22 day trip. He said he expects the trip back to the United States to take five to seven weeks due to the itinerary.

Tunick, an art gallery owner in New York and a member of the Stamford Yacht Club, said he was “in great shape” and clocked four to six miles a day. Nonetheless, in the past three years he said he’s seen “every specialist under the sun” – including a pulmonologist, cardiologist and orthopedist – and also had dental work because “you don’t want to have to pull out your own tooth” on the water.

He even had his gallbladder removed, eliminating any possibility of having to deal with gallstones, he said.

Tunick has also prepared his well-used and decades-old sailboat, Night Watch, ready for the trip. In recent years the generator and engine have been rebuilt and the mast has been repaired. Last summer he took the 55ft vessel on a shakedown cruise from the Netherlands to Spain to see if there were any issues he needed to fix.

David Tunick working on the mast

David Tunick working on the mast


contributed by David Tunick
Night patrol in a hangar at the Coruña shipyard

Night patrol in a hangar at the Coruña shipyard


contributed by David Tunick


Left: David Tunick works on the mast. Right: Night Watch is stored in a shipyard in Spain. | Contributed by David Tunick

His family have concerns about his trip, he said, but “they know I’ve done it before and they know I’m fine.”

On board it will have medical supplies, plenty of food – including pasta, canned meat and farm-fresh eggs – a tracking device and a communication system. He will be in regular contact with a meteorologist.

As for sleep, he said he puts his head down for an hour and a half to two and a half hours at a time, then gets up to check the boat. But if he’s in an area where he can pass other boats, he takes power naps, with a timer waking him up every six to eight minutes.

On deck, he always wears a harness and attaches himself to his boat. In case the tether breaks and he goes overboard, he has a long yellow line trailing behind the boat with a lightweight plastic container attached to the end that he could try to grab.

Perfectly suited David Tunick at the helm

Perfectly suited David Tunick at the helm


contributed by David Tunick
Night shift race in Denmark

Night shift race in Denmark


contributed by David Tunick
Night Watch in Skye

Night Watch in Skye


contributed by David Tunick
David Tunick at the helm in Sweden

David Tunick at the helm in Sweden


contributed by David Tunick


Clockwise: David Tunick at the helm, Night Watch in Denmark, Tunick in Sweden and Night Watch on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. | Contributed by David Tunick

Tunick said he is passionate about boating safety – and has strict rules about when people are on his boat.

One of those rules: “Once we leave a dock, we leave a mooring, we haul anchor, you have to wear a lifeline,” Tunick said. “I don’t care how calm the day is, how hot it is. I don’t care about the conditions. Even if there is no wind, you wear a lifeline on my boat.

Is he sometimes scared when traveling solo?

“I think a bit of fear is a good thing because it helps you stay alert,” he said. “It’s really a matter of preparation.”

Another question Tunick says he gets asked a lot is, “Aren’t you bored?” How can you stand being alone all the time?

“It never really bothered me,” he said. “There’s always something to do – fix, check, write in the diary, try to sleep, cook dinner, do the dishes.”

And one of the advantages of being alone: ​​no one sees when they’re making a mistake.

“I don’t consider myself a great sailor,” Tunick said. “I’m a careful sailor, but I’m not a big, big sailor. And so I make mistakes. And I really like the idea of ​​autonomy and making a pass and doing it right and right.

Something is bound to go wrong on a 1,000+ mile voyage, he said, “and you have to have the wherewithal to fix it yourself.”

Bow Watch Night Out

Bow Watch Night Out


contributed by David Tunick
David Tunick poses at the Stamford Yacht Club in Stamford, Connecticut on Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. The 78-year-old intends to embark on an approximately 5,000 nautical mile voyage from Spain to Connecticut on his personal sailboat in May.

David Tunick poses at the Stamford Yacht Club in Stamford, Connecticut on Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. The 78-year-old intends to embark on an approximately 5,000 nautical mile voyage from Spain to Connecticut on his personal sailboat in May.


Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media


Left: the bow of Night Watch. Right: David Tunick at the Stamford Yacht Club. | Contributed by David Tunick | Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media

Tunick said he had “always been crazy about water”. He remembers going with his father and uncles on motorboats from Greenwich Harbor to Island Beach, where they fished or swam. His uncles even had him make a model ship, which sank as soon as they threw it into a pond in Bruce Park.

His first exposure to sailing was at camp.

Then, when Tunick was around 20, he bought his first boat with a friend, splitting the $300 cost. It was a racing boat, but he said he preferred to use it for cruising. Sometimes he and a friend would take the boat on Long Island Sound, sail to Oyster Bay or Huntington Bay, sleep in a sleeping bag on the beach, and leave the next day.

“I love being on a boat,” Tunick said. “I run every day in New York in my day job. So when I’m there, I don’t want to feel like I have to be somewhere a tenth of a mile before someone else or two minutes before someone else.

He then bought the boat he has now owned for almost 40 years: a vessel designed by Sparkman & Stephens, built by Abeking & Rasmussen with an aluminum hull.

“There’s no place I’d rather be than in my own house, than floating in this boat,” he said.

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