Each day from now until the finish I am writing a daily diary for the NEWCASTLE MORNING HERALD. Following is my first effort.
As I type, it is Sunday afternoon and "Sal" and I are 120 miles east of Tasmania, level with the town of Bicheno. Since rounding South East Cape at the bottom of Tasmania 3 days ago, our progress toward home has been agonisingly slow. No wind initially has given way to strong headwinds, adverse currents and big breaking seas that are hurting my beautiful boat that has looked after me so well for the last 175 days.
The finish line, 539 miles away, is so close compared to the 21,284 we have travelled, yet it seems light years away as we grind out each mile slowly and painfully. I am awaiting the arrival of a cold front this evening that will provide us with a much needed boost if we are to round Nobbys next Saturday morning, bringing to a close an adventure that I committed myself to 4 years ago.
The goal has been simply to sail completely around the planet by myself, without stopping or receiving assistance in any way. I have been put to the test in so many ways ..... loneliness, isolation, separation from my family, the legend of the Southern Ocean and sailing in the 'Furious Fifties' for 42 days straight, including rounding Cape Horn. The cold, huge seas, high winds, pea soup, fog and worry about icebergs have all left their imprint upon me.
My diary on the 7th day (21st October) records in part - 'The furthest south I have been is 43 degrees 41 minutes and here I am at 44 degrees south, quickly heading to 48 degrees and then to the big one, Cape Horn at 56 degrees. We are now getting into the realm of what I have thought about for so long, listened to people talk about and read about. Sailing in the 40's and 50's on my own is going to be special. Take it on. Never ever give in. What a test. 6 months out here. Am I good enough? I'm not going to die wondering am I?'
Last Thursday morning, I was a very, very proud Aussie and Novocastrian as I sighted the bottom of Tasmania amidst the salt spray generated by yet another gale that was the hallmark of the 53 day leg across the Indian Ocean from underneath South Africa. Rounding our famous landmark, Nobbys, and aiming "Sal" for the finish line is indeed going to be a very special feeling. More tomorrow.