They're getting older and older - solo circumnavigators that is. Now that the rush of ever-younger would-be solo circumnavigators seems to be over, it's the turn of the over 70's. With 70-year-old British sailor Jeanne Socrates more than half way to achieving her long held dream of a unassisted non-stop solo circumnavigation, now a 79-year-old New Zealander has joined the quest, but with a stop or two.
79-year-old Ron Daw, photo by Rebecca Ryan, Oamaru Mail
According to locals in Oamaru, Ron Daw is expected to be the oldest sailor to circumnavigate the world alone, reaching 80 when he returns in about 10 months.
Ron cast off this week in his boat, Aparima, an 8.5m sloop. A crowd of well-wishers was at Holmes Wharf, decorated with colourful bunting, to wave goodbye to Mr Daw, as a local brass band member played 'Now is the Hour'.
Ron Daw casting off
Mr Daw is sailing Aparima across the South Pacific and around Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands, where he will berth for a few days before sailing on to England.
His partner will join him there for a short stay and to visit family, then Mr Daw will head home via Africa's Cape of Good Hope and the southern tip of Tasmania. The trip comes after about a year of planning and almost a lifetime of sailing, going back to the age of 10.
Aparima has been outfitted for the trip with new communications equipment, including a satellite phone that will enable him to keep in contact no matter where he is, and a GPS.
When he left yesterday, Aparima had enough fresh food on board for six weeks, plus additional stores of dried and canned food and plenty of water.
The trip has taken five years of 'serious' planning. 'I'm ready to go now. I'm getting on a wee bit now, they tell me,' he told waiting reporters.
He has no computer on board, but the satphone will keep him in touch and he will be writing a log to update family and friends when he reaches the Falkland Islands.
Minoru Saito, the oldest so far:
The oldest sailor known to have completed a solo circumnavigation is famed Japanese sailor Minoru Saito, who became the oldest person at age 77. He has successfully made eight solo circumnavigations. On October 16, 2004 Saito left Japan on his yacht Shuten-dohji II (in English: 'Drunkard's Child,' sometimes jokingly westernized by other sailors as 'Shoot Your Doggy') and returned 233 days later to complete his 7th circumnavigation, non-stop. He finished his 8th solo circumnavigation, this time the 'wrong way around,' on September 17, 2011, after 1,080 days. He was 77 years old on completion.