Columbus Day Special: 6 modern ways to circumnavigate the globe

Today we celebrate Columbus Day, commemorating the trans-Atlantic voyage of three ships that represented the pinnacle of technology circa 1492. On board were scores of courageous sailors, many of whom believed they might end up fighting for their lives in the jaws of dreadful dragons.

Christopher Columbus knew better, be even he wasn't 100% correct about his journey, sticking to errant calculations that told him he'd end up in Cathay, better known today as China. Or maybe, he thought, he would wind up in India, which is why at first glance, he called the inhabitants of the new world "Indians."

Poor Columbus. He just needed better technology. What if he had modern-day tech, vehicles and gadgets that could get him around the world via land, sea, or air? That's where DVICE comes in, showing old Chris a variety of 6 methods of circumnavigating the globe, along with the newest tech that makes these wild adventures possible.

cessna_citation_x.jpg

6. By Private Jet
The Method: Follow in the flight path of the late ace flyer Steve Fosset, who holds the record for fastest west-bound non-supersonic flight around the world, making the trip in 51 hours 35 minutes 13 seconds.

The Modern Upgrade: If you want to fly the fastest private jet available today, step into this Cessna Citation X, with a top speed of 703 mph. Fosset flew one around the world, making nine refueling stops, and averaged 500 mph.


starck_yacht.jpg

5. By Yacht
The Method: It took Ferdinand Magellan's ship (he died along the way) over three years (August 10, 1519 - September 6, 1522) to first circumnavigate the globe, but the current record by ship is 50 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes, 4 seconds, set by Frenchman Bruno Peyron in January-March, 2005.

The Modern Upgrade: While the SS United States holds records as the fastest luxury liner afloat, traveling at the astonishing speed of 44 knots, or more than 50 mph, we'd rather make the trip in "A," a yacht created by visionary designer Philippe Starck. The 387-foot luxury ship is longer than five Santa Maria flagships placed end-to-end. Its three pools and staff of 42 make it easy to sail around the world in style.


solar_impulse.jpg

4. By Solar Plane
The Method: Now this seems impossible. A solar-powered aircraft will attempt to fly all the way around the world, making a mere four stops along the way.

The Modern Upgrade:Two brave souls, pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, plan to take turns flying Solar Impulse around the world in 2011. So far, there's a prototype that's set for test flights next spring, which will make a completely fuel-less 36-hour flight that will span a complete day-night-day cycle. The biggest challenge: surviving alone in a cramped cockpit at 32,000 feet, where the temperature outside is a frigid -85 degrees Farenheit.


pacific_rowboat.jpg

3. By Rowboat
The Method:No one has ever rowed around the world — yet. But brave voyageurs have rowed across the Atlantic and Pacific.

The Modern Upgrade: As you read this, intrepid rowmaster Roz Savage is attempting a trans-Pacific rowing adventure that will take her three years to complete. Equipped with satellite phones, GPS gear, a couple of tough computers and assorted other gadgetry worth a total of $80K, it'll still be a long, lonely trip. That tech will allow her to stay in touch with the civilized world, with blogging and podcasting on her to-do list.


Runningman_arrives_in_USA.jpg

2. On Foot
The Method: Yes, this one is technically impossible, since, after all, you can't walk on water, but traversing all the land masses officially counts in the record books as a circumnavigation. "The Runningman," Robert Garside took five years and eight months to complete his 35,000-mile jaunt around the world, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as a circumnavigation. His next stunt: swimming around the world.

The Modern Upgrade: If you were attempting such a Forest Gump-like feat, might we suggest the Garmin Colorado 400t GPS navigation device, giving you 3D map viewing, a nice big screen, and an iPod-like control wheel.


Spacexdragon.jpg

1. By Spacecraft
The Method: Manned spacecraft have been orbiting the earth since the early '60s, achieving that 18,000mph speed you need to start circling the planet in low earth orbit (between 100 - 1240 miles high). At first, only astronauts and the occasional teacher were allowed in space, but recently there have been six civilian space tourists who've managed to buy their way into earth orbit.

The Modern Upgrade: If you have an extra $30 million lying around, you can be like game designer Richard Garriott and hitch a ride on a Russian spacecraft, blasting into low earth orbit. Just launched yesterday, Garriott is in the middle of a 10-day stay aboard the International Space Station. Hanging out there, he'll make the equivalent of Columbus's voyage in just over 17 minutes and circumnavigate the globe in 90 minutes. If you can wait a couple of years, maybe you can hitch a ride with private space flight company SpaceX, planning to start manned orbital flights aboard SpaceX Dragon (pictured above) by "the end of the decade." That would follow its first successful launch of Falcon 1 into orbit last month on the fourth attempt. You go first.

User Comments