AN Islandmagee grandfather who set out to become the first person from Northern Ireland to sail single-handedly non-stop around the world has come face-to-face with his first major setback.
Adventurer Alan Dowey (pictured) has spent the last two months cruising south across the Atlantic Ocean on his 36-foot yacht Cheal, after setting sail from the Azores.
His epic voyage will see him follow the old clipper sailing route south of the world’s Capes, and he had hoped to complete his global record attempt within nine months.
But after an encounter with some rough sea conditions about 600 miles off the Brazilian coast, Alan’s yacht suffered a bit of a battering, forcing him to change course and head for port to make repairs.
In his weekly online blog, the Portmuck man told how he preferred to err on the side of caution rather than risk continuing the trip in a damaged vessel.
In a recent entry on Tuesday, November 1, he posted: “I decided enough is enough. I am quite confident and content in all sorts of weather as long as the boat is up for it, but bad weather and boat problems do not mix.
“So I have decided to call it a day on this trip. I really don’t want to be on the front of newspapers with half the world looking for me.
“I am now looking at my next move. Brazil is not far away, but I feel I would be stuck there for their season. Trinidad looks most likely, although it’s a long way off (2650 nm), but running north the weather will pick up a bit. As long as I don’t catch up on any hurricanes heading to the Caribbean late in their season, I should be OK.
“There I will make good my repairs, and then think as to what happens next.”
Alan’s army of followers back home will be hoping that Cheal is ready to set sail again very soon and and he can continue on his fantastic voyage. Anyone interested in catching up on Alan’s adventures should keep an eye on his blog (www.recode.co.uk) for all the latest updates.
Since he departed from the Azores, Alan’s blog has provided a fascinating insight into his state-of-mind and how he is coping with his life of solitude on the high seas.
One entry in particular seemed to suggest that the 55-year-old was settling right into the experience and taking it all in his stride.
He wrote: “It’s now Saturday and I have had a busy day. Firstly, I cleaned the cupboard under the sink and now it’s spotless and shipshape. Secondly, I did a washing and hung it out to dry, after which I made a loaf of white bread. The bread turned out really good so tonight I am going to have bread, butter and jam! How good does that sound?”
Alan also marvelled at the ease with which he was able to keep in touch with his family, no matter where in the world he may be.
“This technology thing blows me away at times. Last night I received an email from my eldest sister as she and her husband were in the car heading off to Memphis. So she emailed me from her iPhone while driving.
“Now I am 300 miles north of the Equator and a thousand miles from land and just like that I can email her back a response. I think it is so cool that you can do this sort of thing,” he added.
And while Alan may be able to stay in contact with his loved ones through the wonders of technology, he appears to have a plethora of wildlife to keep him company during his voyage.
He said: “I took a couple of great photos of a Dorrado swimming beside the boat, probably about four foot long. Such a beautiful fish, I really would not want to catch and kill him! He was actually looking at me as he was swimming beside the boat - so funny.”
A more recent entry read: “Lots of flying fish around here. I found a couple on deck this morning - they say they are very tasty, but I will just stick to my Cornflakes. I wonder what the predator is that’s chasing the flying fish? Whatever it is, they are not stopping to say hello (no complaints here).”