AN Islandmagee adventurer has set out to become the first person from Northern Ireland to single-handedly sail non-stop around the world.
Thrill-seeker Alan Dowey, 55, is currently cruising south across the Atlantic Ocean on his 36-foot yacht Cheal, after setting sail from the Azores last month.
The epic journey will see Alan follow the old clipper sailing route, which will take him south of the world’s Capes, and he hopes to arrive back in the Azores in about nine months – just in time to catch a flight back to Northern Ireland for the birth of his second grandchild.
Alan’s daughter Marilyn Braden, who lives in Whitehead, told the Times she is extremely proud of her father for taking up such an incredible challenge, but added that the whole family would be “constantly worried” about Alan until he was safely back home in Portmuck.
“He has a satellite phone which he got specifically for this trip, so no matter where he is in the world, we are still able to bother him,” she added.
“When asked why he is doing this, he simply says: ‘Why not?’ He has been called many a thing over this challenge – a wandering soul, a free spirit, but to us, his three children, it is just Dad doing what he loves best.”
Alan grew up in Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, in a family full of sailors, and Marilyn believes it is only natural that sailing would such an important part of his life.
She added: “He started off simply as a fisherman collecting lobsters for a living, but knew then that his fascination with boats, adventure and the world out there would not stop at this.
“In the summer of 2009 he set off for a round-the-world trip, and visited so many places it would be impossible to list. But that was just a taste of things to come.
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“Some people may call this a mid life crisis, but the people that know him best simply say he’s making a dream a reality. One saying that my dad holds close to his heart is; ‘Do not follow where the path may lead, but go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’. I think that sums him up perfectly.”
Alan has been keeping a weekly online blog of his adventures since he set off last month, and anyone who would like to follow this amazing trip and see exactly where Alan is in the world can do so at www.recode.co.uk