Sailor Returns to Land, Family After 3 Years

A sailor who had been cruising around the world finally returned to dry land more than three years after leaving it, arriving to the welcoming arms of loved ones, including a toddler son he had never met.

Reid Stowe, 58, had a huge grin on his face as he docked his 70-foot, two-masted schooner "Anne" at a pier near West 42nd Street on Thursday afternoon. Family and friends applauded and cheered. Stowe had been sailing nonstop for 1,152 days, missing the birth of his 23-month-old son, Darshen.

He showed no signs of seasickness when he got onto the dock and immediately kissed the cheek of his girlfriend, Soanya Ahmad, 26, and their son, who was asleep in her arms.

Stowe and Ahmad originally had planned to take a 1,000-day trip together and left from Hoboken, N.J., on April 21, 2007. Stowe already had sailed to every continent over four decades. For Ahmad, it was her first time sailing beyond the Hudson River.

But after 10 months, Ahmad abandoned her quest nearly a third of the way through, saying she was plagued by seasickness and suspecting she was pregnant. Reid continued the trip without her.

"Before we left, we had an agreement that if I had to get off for any reason, he would go on," Ahmad said. "I knew if he came back and didn't finish the voyage, he would just go back again. There was no way he wasn't going to finish it."

Stowe said seeing Ahmad leave was the hardest part of his trip.

"We had to succeed with this mission," Stowe said. "Soanya and I both knew I had to do what I had to do."

"Early Show" newsreader Betty Nguyen told Stowe's story Friday:

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Restaurants donated food, including rice, beans, tomato sauce, pasta, chocolate and spices. Other companies contributed as well, donating money, a GPS system and even the costs and maintenance of his website. Stowe's parents also assisted.

To keep himself busy for the last two years, Stowe repaired torn sails, painted, practiced yoga and wrote a book that he hopes to get published. He was able to send e-mails and make satellite phone calls.

Stowe said his trip breaks a record from the 1890s when a Norwegian ship traveled for 1,067 days. Stowe said he didn't get the record verified with Guinness World Records beforehand because he couldn't afford the entrance fee. A spokeswoman from Guinness confirmed that a claim has since been registered and it is being researched.

Charles Doane, editor-at-large of Sail magazine, is convinced Stowe set a new record. The GPS satellite system that tracked the voyage provides proof that the schooner had not touched land, he said.

Stowe's trip wasn't always smooth sailing, though; 15 days after setting sail, he collided with a freighter and his boat briefly capsized last February.

Stowe dedicated his accomplishment to his parents, who have helped support his travels.

His mother, Anne Stowe - the boat's namesake - said she is happy her son is alive and well.

"I feel better than I have felt in 1,152 days," she said, adding that it was the first time she and her husband had seen their six children together in more than 35 years.

Thursday also was the first time Stowe met his granddaughter, 3-year-old Lucy, the child of his daughter from an earlier relationship.

Stowe said that aside from his family, there was nothing that he missed while he was away. He joked that he wanted to cook the remaining tuna he had caught for dinner.

He said he planned to repair his boat - which he and his family built more than 30 years ago - and he hopes to tour around the country's waterways with his family.

"This is my life," Stowe said. "This is what I do."