Lisa Blair – getting close to departure

Lisa Blair set out to become the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, non-stop and unassisted. After breaking her mast south of Cape Town, she has been in the South African city making repairs, with the intention of returning to the spot where the mast broke and completing her journey.  Here is her latest blog:

I just wanted to give you all another update.  So far, things have been progressing well even if I would have liked to already be at sea by now but I am happy with the progress with all things considered.  There have been some shipping delays that have then held up other areas of the refit.  

The biggest one is that we ordered a new sleeve for the rudder as it was not sealing well in the boat, causing leakage issues.  Basically, the ocean is trying to get in…  So, we are replacing the sleeve on the rudder stock as this had signs of damage. Unfortunately, the delivery of the sleeve was delayed this week which than pushed my schedule back a few days…  I was hoping to lift the boat on Friday and put the rudder back in and then step the mast on Monday but now hopefully the boat will come out on Monday for the rudder and then the mast can go in on Tuesday at the high tide.

You are all properly wondering why I need to wait for the rudder to go in before stepping the new mast.  Well normally I would lift the boat on a travel lift and a mast would not be an issue but here they lift the boat with a crane so there is more risk of the mast getting knocked or damaged during the lift, especially for a boat of my size.  So, to play it safe we have opted to step the mast after the rudder is in the boat to simplify the crane lift process.

So, everyone have your fingers and toes crossed for a Monday lift.  Also on track is my new mast getting handled by Associated Rigging.  They have had all the welding now completed, the rigging wire supplied by Arcus wire and rigging in Australia was laid out, measured and swaged towards the end of this week, the boys have also triple checked the Profurl furlers supplied by Wichard Pacific to check all the bits fit perfectly. It is now getting spray painted.  I last saw it yesterday and the primer was on.  The primer was a cream colour and it is just amazing what a difference a coat of paint makes.  The mast will be looking like new in no time.  We are painting the mast black so she will be looking sleek on Climate Action Now.  

Once the painting is completed the Harken mast track will be added and the Lancelin ropes supplied by My Yacht will be run through the rig in preparation of stepping.  I am almost there, so things are getting exciting. My new sails from Quantum are due to arrive on Monday…… yeh.

In other sections of the repairs Action Yachting have finished the fibre-glass repair works, bogged the repairs and fared it back into the hull.  They have also completed the replacement of all the rails so I will once again have some life lines on the boat and can re-do the webbing around the boat for added safety.  I plan on cleaning the inside of the boat down on Monday and I can then begin the loading of Climate Action Now. I still have over 1200 milk bottles from the community of Albany that I need to repack in the bow for buoyancy so it is going to be no small task.  I also looked into an electrical problem on the boat and found that one of my batteries is completely shot so I also need to buy a new battery here which is not cheap.

Now as the repairs are wrapping up I am also starting to monitor the weather and think about what is coming next.  Sailing the Southern Ocean in the beginning of Winter.  For most people this would be ringing alarm bells and whilst it is not the recommend cruising season it doesn't mean that the trip isn't possible.  The weather will be a lot colder so I will need to take extra precautions personally against the cold but I am very happy with the clothing that I have from Zhik so I am sure that this won’t be an issue. Inside the cabin I will also need to run the Wallas Heater, probably 24/7 to just take the edge off. 

I can also likely expect to have snow at sea and will need to scrape this off the boat as when it snows this can turn to ice, causing not only extra weight but also a slippery surface to walk on.  Aside from this, whilst the ice line is higher and the sea temperature will likely be sitting at approximately 5 degrees, I am unlikely to encounter Icebergs as these get trapped in the sea ice over winter so very grateful that C-Core are still assisting me and I will be receiving weekly Iceberg forecasts.  As for the swell size and the wind strength these may increase a little but not to the point where it is beyond the boat's ability to handle, so I have no real concerns here and we will be doing our best again to sail around the bad weather.

So apart from being “really cold” I am hoping for a drama free final trip.  Officially the rule book states that “'With assistance' means a vessel may enter harbour for repairs, alterations or stores as required with or without the help of persons outside the crew. During any stops, the timing of the voyage continues”.

I can’t say that I am happy about this, however by completing the trip I will still be able to lay claim to becoming the first women to sail solo around Antarctica.  I intend to sail back to the point of dis-masting, cross my track and complete the final leg of the journey, so I will also have sailed a complete circle below 45 Degrees South in the Southern Ocean which will be rather cool.  To me I will have sailed solo, unassisted with one stop around Antarctica, an achievement to be proud of.

I am acutely aware that this is sounding like a broken record however I really do still need some more help.  I need to raise another $2 000 to help with the final expenses occurred by being in Cape Town for so long.  I am not working, so I have had no income. My family is struggling financially to help me.  If you are able to donate a couple of dollars towards helping me to get  home, I would really appreciate it.   Your contributions will help me to pay for the extra food for the trip, I need to purchase fuel and purchase some of the spares for the boat that were getting low before I arrived in Cape Town.  If you could sponsor me even the cost of a cup of coffee this week it will help a lot.  I appreciate it and I am very grateful for all the support that I have already received.

Alternatively, if you are interested in making a $2 000 donation to the boat we can arrange to take you and nine of your friends out for a day on board Climate Action Now.  This could be just a fun sail or I can give you a lesson in sailing…  If this is something of interest I can do this in either Albany or Sydney Australia. Please email me via the website to discuss.

Many thanks to everyone for your incredible support given so far.


A Word from Mum…….As you all know we have tried to support Lisa and her crazy adventure. She she is correct when she says money is running out.  I know I am her mum but I have been so impressed at how she has managed the whole situation (not something I would want to do). She has handled everything with such a level head and has proven herself to be very capable in so many ways.  She is an inspiration for women in sailing as well as women in general,  proving what what can be achieved.  I have no doubt that once back home she will have plenty of work opportunities, either in the form of presentations or simply in the world of sailing.  The experience she has gained is quite exceptional and I am sure she will be in high demand.  I really believe this lack of funds is a very short term situation (I hope so anyway as she owes me heaps). Anyway, there is just one more hurdle to cross……it is a pretty big hurdle, crossing the last ocean below 45 degrees in the middle of winter……….. however she is just so keen. Her dream of this record was well outside her scope financially, however that did not stop her and she has already achieved the impossible (with a lot of help from a lot of people).  

Her Insurance company Edward Williams and  Northern Reef have been so good. As you know, due to a mistake, Lisa was under Insured for the rig and mast. They chipped in to meet her half way in the form of a sponsorship which is pretty amazing.  As a result, Lisa has been working really hard to get everything done on budget. She has been physically putting in many hours herself to help with costs and time etc.  Just a little bit more financial help, to make sure she can purchase fuel and other items to make sure she is as safe as she can be  would be so much appreciated…………I understand that so many people have given so much already, both with donations and sponsorship but she is so close now, just that little bit extra would make an amazing difference.

Thanks so much

Linda (Mum)

Jeanneau JY55
M.O.S.S Australia
Race Yachts
Jeanneau JY60
M.O.S.S Australia