How much of a sign of fate or destiny or whatever name you have for ‘IT’ would it be if you left on a sail from Adelaide to Perth and none other than your mentor – 8 X circumnavigator Jon Sanders was on the same course en-route to Perth but solo and nonstop from New Zealand…
I crewed on several stages of this – Jon’s 8th round the world circuit this past year, the last when we sailed the Cape to Rio race last January. It is either just pure coincidence or something like fate that our paths crossed while Jon was in striking distance of Perth on the same route as our recent yacht delivery.
But to take the view – ‘you must be on the right path’ much further, imagine my surprise when we were four days out of Adelaide and just after talking to David Dicks for a weather update, I decided to randomly call Jon on the VHF radio after signing off the sat-phone.
Within seconds of hanging up, Jon answers the VHF radio and it turns out he was only twenty miles north of us and four miles ahead on the direct east to west route to Perth across the Great Australian Bight! Jon’s position was: 35.32, 126.30 and ours: 35.52, 126.34…
Both of us were in some of the most remote waters in the world below Australia in the Southern Ocean and as Linda commented – “You know you’re unusual when you meet up with best friends in such wild places”!
Of all the times I could have chosen to try to give him a call I had picked the perfect time as VHF range is only near the visible horizon as seen from the mast-head antenna (around twenty miles) on such a vast ocean with 1,300-miles between Adelaide and Perth…“How many square ocean miles is that…?!”
We chatted several times over the next few hours either side of midnight while we waited for the arrival of a forecasted cold front. I asked Jon if he felt like another ‘lap’ of the planet next year. He said “yes” – and he’d like to do the Sydney Hobart race again before another Cape to Rio…
What I didn’t ask Jon while we awaited the cold front was what he would think if I had a go at his record. Years before, David Dicks had done so in these same waters on another delivery with Jon. He’d replied – “I’d help”.
I know of no one more humble and modest. A story summarizes that when our friend Richard took Jon down to the local yacht club in Bundaberg. A mate of Richard’s asked whether Jon knew how to sail and if he wanted to go out for the twilight race.
Jon said that was all right, he was going to have a beer at the yacht club. Richard’s friend was floored and embarrassed when he later learned he’d asked the most accomplished endurance sailor in history whether he knew how to sail and Jon hadn’t said yes!
PS: As I write this, Linda, me and my crew have just rounded Cape Leuuwin and should arrive to Fremantle Sailing Club tomorrow to the same dock where David Dicks started and finished his own nonstop circumnavigation.
From there, we plan to go back out to welcome Jon home aboard David Dicks’s S&S 34 ‘Seaflight’ Monday morning on the water off Fremantle when he knocks this ‘8-ball’ of circumnavigations into the corner socket.
I might have beaten my mentor on the water this time but we were full crewed while he was solo and we were on a much lighter and newer boat. Next time reunited, Jon and I again aspire to give the rest of the Sydney Hobart fleet something we call a ‘horizon job’!
Jon Sanders Update:
18 Jan 2012
Hey David & Andrew. I keep my vhf radio on ch 16 24 hrs as everybody is required to do. My range is about 25 nm. Two days back I am in the gt Australian bight about 200nm from land. Not heard anything on vhf for days. Meantime my fellow crew & colleague Hawaiian Bj Caldwell arrived in Bundaberg in a yacht from US and his girl friend two days later in her yacht. Bj did the 2009 hobart in perie banou and 2011 rio race and he and lynda both left hobart jan 2010 in Perie Banou for Fremantle. Anyway i was in the bight, and they in Bundaberg. (Richards place). I am at the chart table when the vhf booms into life. ‘Perie Banou Perie Banou this is . Bj’ over. -complete with a Hawaiian accent. WHAT!? Apparently he & Linda got a delivery in a larger and faster Beneteau from Adelaide to Fremantle. Probably organized by David. He called on vhf in the unlikely off chance i would pick it up. He got an equal surprise when i boomed straight back – . ‘WHAT! Where the heck and hell are you? This my ocean’. (20 nm to the north). At this moment it is 8/8 blue sky. And 8kts northeast wind. I am 94nm south of Esperance. ¡ 35 25s 122 03e Nice but quiet
(Aboard EX-‘Fruit-Machine’ steering & fixing UV dead sails in the Southern Ocean 😉
Photos: Liv Coyne & Linda Pasquariello