Well, first of all I just want to say a massive thank you to you all for contributing to this amazing adventure – and it certainly has been an adventure for me.
Although I was unable to read your comments directly on the boat, Paula would regularly send me through the comments, and believe me, they helped me enormously, especially towards the end.
It was always going to a hard challenge, we knew that from the start. Physically it wasn’t too bad and never once did I ever feel lonely, even though I was alone for 75 days. Having the communications each day with Nick and Paula kept me in touch with everything going on back home.
So what happened?
After about 70 days at sea I had passed Cape Leuwen and was trucking nicely towards Tazmania in a typical Southern Ocean blow when I began to hear some horrible noises from the mast. It turns out that it was the mast track being damaged by the cars that slide up and down holding the mainsail to the mast. Although the damage was high up the mast, the sound was being magnified down the ‘tube’ and sounded pretty bad at the bottom. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was the rig coming down or what was going on. So I began to reduce sail and that was when I discovered that I had a real problem getting the sail down. Eventually after about 30 minutes of hard winding I managed to get to 3rd reef (below which all was fine with the track). I headed north to get out of the depression and away from the approaching cold front which was bringing some big wind with it. The plan was to investigate more in calmer weather. It soon became clear that the track was damaged and I would be unable to raise the main any further. With 3 reefs the boat was going to be slow and after the long delay before the start I was already pushing towards the back end of the weather window for crossing the Southern Ocean and rounding Cape Horn (You can only really sail here in the summer and we are now in to Autumn which means even bigger storms and ice). With that as a consideration and also the fact that the boat was uninsured (and our life savings along with it) the very difficult decision was made to retire from the record and seek landfall.
That was a very hard and emotional decision to make. I was in tears. We had worked so hard and given so much to this campaign for it to end like this. During the 5 days it then took me to get to Australia I had the time to come to terms with that decision.
So what now?
The plan was always to sell the boat after this challenge, so I am going to put the boat on the market now, 60 days earlier than planned, and see what response I get in the Southern hemisphere. You don’t see Class 40’s here very often so I thought I would give someone here the opportunity to have some fun with Pixie.
If she doesn’t sell in 6 months time then we will consider bringing her back to Europe and selling her there.
I have had a fantastic 3 years sailing her. She is a wonderful boat and I will be very sad to see her go. But life moves on and Paula and I have lots of plans for the future.
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