On Monday February 21, Australian sailor Lisa Blair set sail from Albany, WA in a second attempt to sail solo, non-stop, around Antarctica in record time aboard her yacht ‘Climate Action Now’.
Blair is still trying to raise money to cover project costs. To sponsor Blair, see: https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/sponsors
You can also support by shopping with Lisa.
In her latest blog post, Blair celebrates another major milestone – she has completed a full circumnavigation of Antarctica, crossing all tracks below 45 South. This means that now she’s en route to the official finish line in Albany, WA.
Blog day 87
Latitude 44 53.61S
Longitude 115 36.72E
Air temp 10c
Local time 0153 UTC+8
For the live tracker, see: https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/tracker
Last night after sending the blog home I did go on deck and change the sails. The winds had dropped out from 27 knots to less than 20 knots, so I ended up shaking out the reefs in the mainsail from the third reef to the first reef. There was still another burst of wind due, so I didn’t want to go all the way to the full mainsail.
I also unfurled the rest of the no 2 jib out so that the whole of the sail was in use. The winds had also gone back to the north and I was getting a bit of adverse current and also lots of leeway. Leeway is what happens when the boat heals over a lot (like when sailing up wind) and instead of going forward you end up sliding sideways a bit too. The sideways drift is the leeway. My leeway was so bad that I was really struggling to hold course or to make any grounds to the North towards the 45 S line.
My heading was 030 True but the actual course I was sailing over the ground was 080 True, so I was getting shoved sideways a huge amount. I ended up spending almost two hours on deck tweaking the sails trying to eliminate this effect but with little success. I was able to get us to stabilise at 070 so for now that will have to do and I finally went below and got some sleep at 5am.
I really didn’t manage much sleep with the smashing of Climate Action Now through the waves, I kept feeling like I was about to fall out of bed just as I would drift off and finally at 11am when I needed to change the micro plastic samples over I finally gave up on sleep and just got up. I noticed that the boat speed had dropped a bit and that I was back to struggling to get any Course over Ground above 080 True, so I went back on deck to tweak the sails again.
The winds had built to 22 knots, and it was borderline for needing another reef but as it was short term, I decided to ease out the mainsail and depressor the sails that way. I also altered the angle of the boat to the wind and came another 10 degrees closer making my apparent wind angle of 040 T and life became generally a whole lot less comfortable but I was able to get my course over ground up to 060 True so that was simply what life was going to be like.
I had logged when I left Australia and entered into the official Antarctica Cup Ocean Racetrack of 45 south to 60 south my position of entry. If you remember I sailed west a little at the beginning to try to give myself a better angle on the return. It is important to me that I cross all my tracks below 45 South.
However, when Fedor Konykhov set the record in 2008, he didn’t actually cross his outgoing track below 45 South but instead he crossed his track near Australia. This meant that there was around 800 nm that he didn’t sail, which I will. My theory was to do a lot of those extra miles at the beginning of the trip rather than at the end, where I might be pushed for time against the original record of 102 days.
So, I sailed west a bit and ended up crossing onto the official racetrack in position Latitude – 45 00.014S and Longitude 115 09.154E. This was going to be my official turning point and by drawing a line between this position and the second logbook waypoint I had my crossing point. I was still currently around 60 nm away, so I pottered around the boat and watched the miles fall away.
Today was also going to be the day that I deployed the very last Bureau of Meteorology weather drifter buoy. Lucky no 8, so before it got dark at 4 pm I kitted up with my Musto MPX salopettes and went on deck to dig it out. It was going to be a bit of a tricky deployment as all the paper tape had rotted off so the drogue and drogue attachment line were currently temporarily secured with electrical tape, and I would need to remove this for deployment causing a potential trip hazard.
Also, with the wind angle being a close reach we were smashing up the waves so that was going to make it interesting. I retrieved the buoy from the hatch and set up everything ready for deployment. I decided to dedicate this last buoy to two last amazing female sailors. Dee Cafari and Ellen McArthur. Both are incredible British sailors.
Dee was a school teacher turned record sailor and recently skippered the all-female team SCA in the Volvo Ocean Race. And Ellen was at her peak in sailing at the age of 25 she had become the first women to win a podium position in the Vendee Globe round the world solo yacht race and then secured a multi-million-dollar contract to build a massive trimaran which she raced around the world becoming the fasted person to sail solo around the world at the time.
At the height of her career, she decided to leave sailing and turned her efforts to environmental work and community work where she founded the Ellen McArthur Cancer Trust, taking cancer patients out sailing and built a foundation around helping business to incorporate the Close Loop business model.
This is where you strategically design products for easy recycling and eventually are only making products from the returns of old ones, keeping a closed loop and a sustainable business model. A fantastic Climate activist and both women have been inspiring to me as female sailors. Once everything was ready, I was able to time the deployment with a lull in the winds. It was a safe and successful deployment marking the last for this trip at least.
I made dinner, which was a coconut and almond freeze-dried curry with some toasted wrap with garlic butter and settled in to watch the miles drop away and relish in that unique moment when the dream becomes a reality getting ever closer.
I was staring at the B & G display watching my little boat get closer and closer and finally at 23:14:02 UTC +8 or 15:14:02 UTC I crossed over that magic line in position Latitude 45 06.402S Longitude 115 19.187E and completed a full circumnavigation around Antarctica crossing all tracks below 45 South.
In that moment everything changed, I had just done it and while the official record to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council is the Albany-to-Albany record, this is the last major milestone of the trip. I can now turn the bows north and start sailing back to Australia. That finish line is only 600 nm away and suddenly so much more achievable.
This is such a huge moment in the trip for me and one that is so hard to put into words, but I finally feel like I have made it. I wasn’t willing to let myself believe it before, but now, having crossed that track and altered course to Australia I feel like anything is possible. I have just spent almost three months living and surviving in the Southern Ocean, suffering through waves the size of a four-story building, knock downs, blizzards, cyclonic winds, and just now I have completed that full circumnavigation, and I am on my way home.
I am truly proud of this moment, but this isn’t my moment alone. This, none of this would have been possible without the support of so many people from my family to my sponsors Canva, Laurus Projects, Redsky insurance and all my other Technical Sponsors and Degree Sponsors. the many others. But a very special thank you to my volunteers who worked so hard as deadlines just kept racing forward.
Also, everyone I have met who has followed or encouraged me over the last eight years that this has taken to make possible. This is a shared success because I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you all so thank you to everyone for your remarkable belief in me and my vision and your support to help me make that vision a reality. Thank you.
Note From Mum – Also a special thank you to all those who have donated funds. There have been quite a few donations coming through during the trip, and Lisa will be very grateful for the help, (she can’t see them yet) however today has been amazing. Over 20 individual donations have been processed completing her circumnavigation of Antarctica and putting up this l blog. It will be such an amazing surprise for Lisa.
I still had another seven nm to sail after crossing that line, so it was at 00:33:51 UTC+8 when I finally sailed off the Antarctica Cup Ocean Racetrack and was north of 45 degrees south for the first time in 87 days. The winds have now shifted to the NW enough to allow me to make a good heading to the NE so the focus in completely on getting back to Australia. Bob’s (Metbob) ETA is still between the 25th and 26th of May so I should be seeing you all by the end of next week. Wahoo.
Before I go tonight, I would like to take a moment to thank the below incredible degree sponsors:
Thank you to:
101 East – Bec Scheske – “Dedicated to Lisa Blair and to every person who has a goal and is brave enough to go for it.”
Thank you so much Bec, you have been an incredible help with the refit in Brisbane and became someone I could rely on to show up day after day to help me out while you were also working. And now for you to sponsor a degree for this record I can only say an absolutely huge thank you and I owe you a ton of hot chips with BBQ sauce…
113 East – Tailwind Nutrition – Huge thanks to Gavin and Rebekah Markey for your wonderful support. Tailwind Nutrition make a unique re-hydration formula for endurance athletes and it is often used by the best triathletes and marathon runners, out here sometime you need an extra kick so I would use this and they taste great so thank you for your support.
114 East – Great Southern Wills – Massive thank you to Bernadette and Paul Terry for your amazing support not only with this degree but with your very generous offer to donate me a will. Thankfully it wasn’t needed but it gave my family peace of mind that my affairs were in order ‘just in case’ and it was a very streamline and efficient process so thank you for your support with this project and the last. It means a lot.
115 East – d’Albora Marinas – Victoria Harbour, Docklands VIC – Huge thank you to d’Alboras for being an incredible support throughout this project. You stepped up when I was desperately in need of support and sponsored 30 degrees so that I could go out and not just set this record but gather the valuable micro plastic samples and complete the other citizen science activities.
I know that caring for our marine environment is important to you as a brand as well as delivering a top-of-the-line marina service so thank you for your support and encouragement and I look forward to many more projects to come.
How to follow Lisa Blair’s voyage:
Track Lisa Blair’s position on her website – https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/
To sponsor Lisa Blair, see – https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/sponsors
Lisa Blair’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/LisaBlairSailstheWorld
To purchase Lisa Blair’s book ‘Facing Fear’, see – https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/eco-shop