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Solo sailor in second attempt to circumnavigate the 'wrong way'

by Nancy Knudsen on 4 Sep 2013
Previous aborted attempt - about to be rescued .. .
Glenn Wakefield, Canadian adventure sailor who was foiled in his attempt, five years ago, to sail solo around the world against the prevailing winds, this week set off once again to attempt the challenge. In his original attempt his boat Kim Chow was rolled in the Southern Ocean on approach to Cape Horn, seven months into his journey.

The damage to the boat in the roll was so severe that he decided - after recovering from concussion received in the roll and after several days of attempting to continue - to abandon his voyage.

However, now five-years older at 63, and undaunted by his previous experience, he has set sail from Cadboro Bay in Victoria to take up the challenge again. His latest boat, called West Wind II recalling that this is a second attempt, is a Comanche 42 designed by Sparkman and Stephens and built in late 1969/70 by Chris-Craft. Here she is swinging on her mooring before departure:



He told CBC News on Sunday that he's leaving with mixed emotions. 'The raw excitement of being back on the ocean alone, that's fantastic for me... I love being out on the ocean,' he said. 'And then there's the absolute, you know, there's lots of anxiety and fear that my family is going to be okay and I've left things in order.'

To add to his woes in his previous attempt, apart from sailing a severely damaged boat without a liferaft or dodger or engine, Wakefield was trying to make his way to the Falkland Islands to restock heart medication he accidentally lost earlier in the trip when he dropped many of his pills down the sink.

He’s determined to make the journey a success this time, he says.

'There's something about leaving without finishing and it was an unfortunate circumstances that brought that voyage to an end but I'm here now and there's just an overwhelming feeling that I wanted to finish,' says Wakefield.

His 23,000nm trip will take an estimated 10 months to complete. During that time, he says he will blog about the experience and communicate with amateur radio enthusiasts around the world.


Glenn's previous aborted journey:

Wakefield started his sailing journey in September 2007, and was seven months into his trip, due to finish in July 2008 year. The project had taken four years in the planning.

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]When his Offshore 40ft sloop built by Cheoy Lee in Hong Kong rolled, it sustained major damage, and Glenn suffered concussion in the incident. Glenn recovered, but the boat's damage was severe. While still watertight and the mast still standing, the yacht had lost the dodger and a hatch cover. The boat also had discharged batteries, severely damaged self steering equipment and an inoperable engine. It had also lost its liferaft and solar panels. The boat was extremely wet below from the roll, and water was now entering the boat through the missing hatch cover and down the companionway. At the time of the rollover the wind speed was 50 knots, in a 6 metre swell. It took Glenn several days to make the decision, at first maintaining that he could continue.

Here is part of the message from the Argentina naval vessel Puerto Deseado which announced his abandonment of the trip:

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed] After carefully considering the options Glenn felt he could not safely round Cape Horn and has made a very personal and difficult decision, and the only logical one under the circumstances, which is to end his circumnavigation. His decision was greatly influenced by the love for his family back home and he reassured us he is doing well. Glenn will be transferred to a Coast Guard vessel and taken to a port in Argentina and from there to Buenos Aires and home. The fate of Kim Chow is uncertain at this point. The Navy are considering the options. Words alone can't express his deep appreciation for the bravery and kindness of the captain and crew who stood by for 48 hours until weather and sea conditions would permit his safe transfer to their vessel. Glenn sends his heartfelt thanks to all those who played a part in seeing him safely through this difficult time.

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed] Wakefield, whose offshore sailing career started in 1970, prepared for four years for the voyage which was against the prevailing winds. Glen has a comprehensive sailing history, having has owned three previous yachts, skippered many others in various races, single and doubled handed in other sailing ventures and also sailed with his wife and two daughters across the Pacific to New Zealand. They then sailed through Antipodean waters during much of 1997/8.

His intention was to make his way through Drake Passage and around Cape Horn at a distance of about 100 nautical miles. Once around Cape Horn, Glenn was to head out about 1000 miles into the Pacific and then up the coast of Chile recrossing the equator at about 135 degrees. From there he was to sail north to Hawaii and then east to the west coast of British Columbia returning to the Straits of Juan de Fuca and his home port of Victoria in July of 2008.

'The trip was his lifelong dream,' his wife, Marylou, said after hearing of his rollover, and is supportive of his current repeated attempt.

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