And really the last Log until, Kilcullen Voyager Version II, continues sometime in the future.
(That is unless the skipper gets locked-up on returning to Ireland, and the keys get lost…)
OUR LOG 11 days ago, on making a landfall in Otago was the last. Since I have learned that never is a word never to use. So, this update, is for those who have been curious as to what is happening on our odyssey - since falling off the Vendee radar.
But, most of all, this Day 74 Voyage Log, is to say thanks to many well- and the wonderful support we have had.
And WOW, it has been a whirlwind. 24 hours after getting ashore in Otago, built on the back of the great KIWI Gold Rush, the planning started.
Landing in this remote location, (me and the boat) knowing no one, has been an adventure all on its own and a challenge. In the context of life itself, it’s a ‘first world problem’ and we are lucky to be alive, to live.
Now a week later we have a new, ‘old mast’ which is temporary and we have made a landfall at Timaru up the coast. And tomorrow, Thursday at dawn, we set out for Christchurch.
All last week, as we made preparations in Otago, it was headline daily news in the local media. Being truthful, not a lot happens there and great people.
Over 100 souls came to send us off. There was fanfare, including an Irish folk band and am Barbeque.
And now as we move up along the coast, it’s akin to having a lawnmower engine on a Formula One car….
Our happy departure, is thanks to the fisherman they call ‘Rambo', (Steve Little) who towed us in (we did not call rescue services) and his wife Joe. I stayed above their pub – the Cary Inn at Carey’s Bay.
Another champion, who helped was Tony Cummins, who won the lotto – otherwise Barbeque Bill. A solid barrel of a man, he is a lead volunteer with the Spirit of Adventure Trust charity – similar to the Atlanitc Youth Trust. Recently he was nominated World Volunteer of the Year by Sail Training International.
His lotto win was being the sole survivor of a shipwreck when 3 perished. Others who helped include Stu McLachlan, Martin Balch, Blair Mc Nabb and many more. Now the Kilcullen has a new old mast and sails – compete with a VHF aerial, navigation lights and an AIS safety transmitter.
Also, Paddy O’Connor, a Roscommon emigrant to Cork, formerly of the Irish Naval Service and incredibly skilled and an old friend, who happened to be on the South Island was fantastic.
We started in fair winds and went straight out to sea, making an amazing 5 to 6 knots. A day later the forecast became less favourable with rapidly moving weather systems off the coast.
Our choice was to go right offshore, considered safer until the winds became more favourable to get us to Christchurch or go to an intermediary port, Timaru.
Truckloads, literally, of kelp bladder type seaweed made this decision for us and the unfavourable forecast. During the night, we sailed through a massive clump which wrapped around the keel and the sail drive on our auxiliary motor – jamming the shaft.
Happily, disabled again after almost 2 days at sea we made it to Timaru without assistance or calling for help. It is a commercial port with massive container ships and little small boat facilities. Early morning, unassisted we rounded the lead breakwater – coming dangerously close to the rocks – and anchored inside to get a tow onto a berth later by the harbour launch.
Following a dive, kindly completed by David Tee, the amount of seaweed around the keel was staggering.
Finally, in the first of many ‘Ands’, without the ‘Buts’ - And now suitably rested, at dawn Friday morning 20th January, with the wind moving into the West and South West, we sail North for Christchurch.
And this is really the last log for while - as your humble skipper will stop - get back to work and sort of normal life - should that be possible.
And either on Kilcullen Voyager 1 or II, (another boat) - depending on costs and repairs to finish the adventure And circumnavigation - And sometime in the future – unless of course as outlined at the start, I get locked up.
And once again, thanks for sharing the adventure. Thanks for the wonderful support and interest.
And most of all the great interest generated through the MSL Mercedes-Benz Schools programme.
Here our work in promoting vision and of the Atlantic Youth Trust charity - with its mission to connect youth with the Ocean and Adventure – make it all worthwhile.
And of course INVIVO, through the BIOLINE brand, a unique ‘next generation’ solution for farming - reaping the harvest together, one might add. And did I mention……
And the sea, a bit like being in the ring with an imortal boxer or Duracell Bunny. He keep chipping away until you’re knocked out, but you always get up and go to fight another round, until no more.
Live itself, lucky to be lived. Merci
There has been some discussion over the past few days as what Enda will be able to claim in terms of being the first, youngest, oldest, and so on if he completes the lap of the planet. This article aims to look at who has gone before him and who might be coming next.
From the outset, all mentioned in this article deserve enormous credit for their achievements and the last thing we want to do is to take away from any of them. Hence, we’re not going to form any conclusions here, simply lay out the facts as we know them, and ask you to help us uncover anything we might be missing.
To start with no Irish person has sailed alone non-stop around the planet. Therefore had Enda been successful he would have taken that title.
The closest to it has been Damien Foxall who sailed non-stop around the planet double handed when he won the Barcelona World Race in an IMOCA 60. He’s also sailed around the planet in record attempts and Volvo Ocean Races.
Justin Slattery has a remarkable six crewed circumnavigations under his belt and has also won the Volvo Ocean Race. Sean McCarter has completed two laps of the planet, both crewed and the latter as Skipper of Derry-Londonderry-Doire in the Clipper Round the World Race.
Gregor McGuckin, assuming his project to compete in the Golden Globe Race comes together, is the next known Irish person set to attempt a solo non-stop lap of the planet.
Retired Royal Navy Officer Bill King completed a solo circumnavigation of the planet, with stops, in 1973. His vessel Galway Blazer II had no auxiliary engine therefore he truly ‘sailed’ alone around the planet. King sailed under both the Red Ensign and the Irish tricolour. He had attempted a non-stop lap but came into difficulty south of Australia.
Next, Pete Hogan completed a solo circumnavigation, with stops, in 1993 in a boat he built himself. Pete considers Bill King as the first true solo sailing circumnavigation as he did not use an engine at all.
Two other known solo circumnavigations with stops were completed by Declan Mackell and Pat Lawless.
This piece would not be complete without a tip of the hat to one of the most famous Irish maritime adventurers, Conor O’Brien. He completed a crewed circumnavigation in his boat Saoirse in 1925.
There is also a steady stream of Irish couples who set out to cruise the world. Myra Reid and Paraic O'Maolriada took six years to explore and lap the planet. One of the most remarkable and well known adventures was completed by Pat Murphy and his late wife Olivia. They originally planned to take three years to complete the voyage but ended up taking nine. For most of us, these kinds of tales of exploring remote islands and sitting out hurricane seasons with friends and family is a lot more appealing than going it alone.
So what does all this mean for Enda?
To take the solo non-stop title would have been one for the record books. As this is a personal challenge for Enda if he doesn’t continue, and hopefully complete the lap of the planet, it will eat away at him forever. Some of you may be aware of the transatlantic story in the prototype sailing liferaft. After the first attempt Enda was the guy who almost made it. 10 years later Enda went back and successfully completed a solo transatlantic in an inflatable boat. Needless to say the media were only really interested when he had to be rescued the first time.
Once the boat has been repaired Enda may return to the GPS location where his mast broke and continue from there, or the point where he took a tow. Assuming he then completes the voyage without stopping again could he claim he did the journey with one stop under sail? Or simply the first Irishman to complete the Vendee Globe Route? Regardless, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, rebuilding the deck of the boat, securing a new mast, and getting back on track is the priority.
Young sailors involved in our campaign such as Dave Kenefick, Hammy Baker, Sean McCarter, Gregor McGuckin, and Tom Dolan are the next generation. Enda gives a very frank and honest view of sailing sponsorship in Ireland to Newstalk, you can listen to it here. Hopefully we are seeing a shift in attitudes towards sailing and watersports with the likes of Annalise Murphy and the O'Donovan brothers. It really is our Team’s hope that the profile and interest in this Vendee Globe will inspire and help future Irish campaigns.
Records and titles aside. These adventures, successful or unsuccessful in their ultimate goals, are truly remarkable and should be encouraged and supported when done in a safe responsible manner. Just imagine Gregor could take the title of being the first Irish non-stop circumnavigator if he finds the support, and then the next year we could all be watching another Irish sailor, maybe even two, departing Le Sables d'Olonne in the Vendee Globe.
The consistent theme is Enda's incredible attitude despite what he has just been through.
Full Story Here - http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/other-sports/88185203/im-pleased-to-be-alive-irish-skipper-limps-into-dunedin-on-broken-yacht
Full Story Here - https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/stranded-irishmans-yacht-towed-dunedin-after-abandoning-world-race
Enda O’Coineen: “My father always said to put something back and that's what we’re doing with the Atlantic Youth Trust.”
In 2008 Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland had two sailing vessels dedicated to providing youth development opportunities to young people. Just two years later no vessels were operational and young people were missing out on life changing opportunities that had been open to them for decades. Enda O’Coineen and others set out to change this.
Rather than seeing this as a negative, the founders of the Atlantic Youth Trust saw this as an opportunity. They began by holding what could be described as town hall meetings to bring in as many stakeholders from across the island as possible. The outcome of these meetings were clear. Firstly, anything that was to be done must be done to the highest international standards in an attempt to create a world class solution. Secondly, following agreement from various stakeholders it was decided a single organisation could offer more valuable services in terms of cultural integration and reconciliation as opposed to two vessels and organisations. This also meant economies of scale and more resources were available.
Over £20,000 / €23,000 was privately raised and invested in an initial research paper that examined over 25 similar organisations around the world in order to identify the most suitable model to follow. The results were clear, the Spirit of Adventure Trust in New Zealand was the most suitable model to follow for the following reasons:
Once the model was identified the next steps were to form the charity, hire an employee to lead it, and raise a seed fund. Initially €160,000 was raised from individuals and corporates including Belfast Harbour, Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Matheson, Carson McDowell, Mash Direct, Arklow Shipping, Mainport Shipping, Kilwaughter Minerals, Dermot Desmond, and Denis O’Brien.
Parallel to this two Advisory Groups were formed, a Vessel Group and an Education Group. Members include the National Maritime College of Ireland, Ulster University, Daffodil Care Services, Harland & Wolff, amongst others.
Once initial support and interest was received from the government in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland EY (Ernst & Young) were engaged to complete a Business Case. This identified the four key objectives of the organization:
The Business Case also includes a detailed options appraisal for achieving the above and models each option out over 30 years. The preferred option was for a vessel that can carry 40 youths per voyage, similar to the vessel in New Zealand.
Following examination of the Business Case the plans for one 48m tall ship to be run jointly between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were included in the ‘A Fresh Start: Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan’, Capital Investment Plan, and Programme for Government.
120 teenagers were given opportunities on pilot voyages around the island during the summers of 2015 and 2016 on a smaller vessel to showcase what is possible. These were financially supported by a range of corporates and the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund.
In accordance with the Stormont Agreement, during 2017, “the Irish Government will work also with the Northern Ireland Executive to seek agreement on a funding plan for the Atlantic Youth Trust initiative. This proposal involves a new sail training vessel to facilitate youth development, mentoring, and training on an all-island basis.”
Never before has a proposal with this level of support, research, evidence, and potential been embraced by all corners of the island. Investment in the Atlantic Youth Trust is creating a unique service provider that will offer youth, justice, training, education, and tourism services for decades to come. In support of Enda, and his founding role in the Atlantic Youth Trust, we ask that you take the time to learn more about the Trust and become an advocate for what will become a true flagship for young people on this island, change lives, and inspire future generations of adventurers.
Concept Image of the Proposed Ship
For New Year's Day we had an interesting Log ready to go. It included resolutions to take less risk with life, The Pacific Ocean, looking forward to Cape Horn - and delectably delighted to be back in the Vendee after a hard 3 weeks in the Indian Ocean.
Then 'wham' and within a few hours the mast, and my dream came tumbling down. Fortunately I slashed away the rig to avoid it making a hole in the boat and am now secure, battered, cold, wet and isolated, miles from anywhere… And while I need help, I have been carefully not to call the rescues services.
It was a sudden 35 knot squall and a series of involuntary gybes - as the boat self-steering at a critical times went out of control - which caught us without a backstay runner and not enough support for the mast. This should not have happened. However I took the risk, its my responsibility and I am heartbroken for all who have supported the challenge. Thanks.
Now 36 hours later I am still shaken and struggling to get back to New Zealand and no motor (a rope around the prop) it could be many days to get in range for a tow - meanwhile we have plenty of food and are secure on the mastless boat.
What does all this mean? Clearly I am out of the race and I would like to thank the Vendee Race Office for a great job and the on-going support of Marcus Hutchinson and Neil O'Hagan - also John Malone who put in an all-nighter to help fix us off Stewart Island.
On personal basis I will get back to individual supporters. In particular thanks to Invivo /BIOLINE. Most important, I would like the MSL Mercedes Schools Programme to continue following the Vendee. There is great content and there are still several other good boats and skippers still on the track to get behind.
Also I ask that all continue to support the ATLANTIC Youth Trust's charity to connect youth with the ocean, and adventure. Its 30 year mission is clear and we need to invest in the future.
For the Kilcullen and her sad Skipper, first we must get to land safely.
Then it's either one of three scenarios: 1) find another mast and sail back to Les Sables and complete the singlehanded circumnavigation 2) Leave the boat in New Zeeland and find another challenge or 3) Ship it back to Europe. It's all too soon to decide and work out but most important is to get back to family, friends and back to work and a 'normal' life - whatever that is...
On reflection, 0100 hrs., Jan 1st 2015, - had I not made that fateful Call at a New Years' Party to Mike Golding to buy the Kilcullen Voyager on the phone it would not have happened.
"Will I or won't I"?
And, with the logic that if you think too much about doing something you'll never do it -and the support of The Lady Nicola "Go on says she" I called Mike. Fortunately he had not gone to bed and I was distressingly sober.
There and then, agreed the price and did the deal. Like marriage, for better or worse.
The acquisition was in anticipation of the Vendee, however it would be over another year before I committed to the race. I was afraid, in awe of the power of the boat, and nervous that I could never sail her.
And now, exactly 2 years later, having mastered the boat, a trans-Atlantic Race podium, qualified, up and down to the Canaries, around Ireland and sailed half way around the planet at least something has 'happened'
To wrap, now I am a bundle of emotion, trying to figure out what it all means - heartbroken and devastated.
But this is a 'First World' problem. I am lucky to have had the opportunity and for the wonderful friends, family and people whom I have not met who have given and shown wonderful support in celebrating life, adventure, the environment, the ocean and our plant.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart - and this is the last Log and you will be spared the trial and tribulations of the challenge now to get to a safe port and work it out.
Happy New Year, Lets make it a good one - but move away some from "The Edge" - its crowded.
Enda O'Coineen on 1 January reported to Race Headquarters in Paris at 0830hrs UTC that the mast of Kilcullen Voyager - Team Ireland has broken.
Over the past 55 days Enda has sailed 13,153 nautical miles (over 24,000 kilometres) alone, through some of the worst weather imaginable. He has overcome rigging issues, electrical issues, the mental challenge, but losing the mast is something impossible to repair.
His position is now some 180 nautical miles to the south east of Dunedin, New Zealand. He was racing in 35kts of SSE wind when the rig broke. The skipper is uninjured and reported that he was starting to secure his boat and the broken pieces of the rig and planned to head to New Zealand which, in the current weather situation, is downwind for him. He should have enough fuel on board for the journey.
Enda is in contact with the Technical Team and Race Direction. A full assessment of his situation is being made and more details will follow.
Speaking to the Race Office Enda said:
"You roll the dice. I was caught a little bit unawares. I was in 20-25 kts of breeze and a very vicious 35kt squall came through and the self-steering malfunctioned just at the wrong moment. I did an involuntary gybe and then a gybe back. The boat was out of control and I was caught without the runner properly on and the mast snapped. I have to laugh because if I don't I will cry. The mast came clean off at the deck and in fact it was intact. But the whole rig went over the side. I had the difficult decision to make of whether to try and save the rig or whether to save the hull of the boat. I thought of safety first. I cut the rig free from the boat. I was worried that the stump of the rig would hole the boat. The seas were pretty wild. There was a big sea running. I cut the entire rig free. I am mastless, the deck was holed. It is not a happy situation but there it is, you roll the dice. That is the risk you take.
I am devastated. Things were going quite well. I was in good shape. Having got this far I felt we could handle anything. There was just that little malfunction of the self-steering that set a whole train in motion. I have to accept responsibility. What happens, happens.
Look, you have to be philosophical. This sort of sailing is living on the edge. I have been doing that for 57 days and as the fella says if you are living on the edge you are taking up too much space. I was taking up too much space on the edge.
Ironically I had just done a little interview with myself for New Year. I celebrated with a small bottle of champagne. My alter personality asked me about my New Year's Resolution. And my New Year's Resolution was to take less risk with my life. In business, in my life I have taken a lot of risk. The risk enabled me to make enough money to buy this boat. to pursue the dream, to pursue my adventure. The irony is that only two hours earlier I had recorded a video to pledge to take less risk. And here I am. Risk is a four letter word, like a lot of meaningful four letter words in the English language.
What can you do? I have acted responsibly.
It is January 1st. It is a New Day and a New Year and it is time to move on. My Vendée Globe is over. I am appreciative of all the support I have had. "
Now completing the passing of the Tasman Sea, separating Australia and New Zealand, the ocean is like two wild wolves. One roaring, vertical and cruel, the other calming and humble.
The ocean wolf you get depends on how you feed it, you will never console it and unlike a dog, responds to no master and remains wild. The advice to avoid a particularly angry wolf up ahead was to slow down to 5 knots that led to the unprecedented Christmas rendezvous south of Tasmania. We thankfully avoided the 70 knot winds and 10 metre seas that raged.
Now we are once again going east, averaging 16 knots. Down to around 25 knots of wind we still have some massive leftover swells. All going well we'll ride this system halfway to Cape Horn which is the equivalent of 1 and a half transatlantic legs from here.
Our passage will take us 400 miles South of New Zealand's South Island near Campbell and Macquarie Island. I'm not sure how these places got their names but I'm guessing I'm not the first Irishman to sail through this part of the world. Campbell Island was once a huge sheep farm. I gather it was too rough here, even for the sheep. And Macquarie Island was once a whaling Station. Other than a few researchers it is now uninhabited. Oddly enough Macquarie Island is Australian territory very close to New Zealand.
And to my friends in Macquarie Bank - to whom I owe a large chunk of money - your risk analysts may be monitoring this log to see if I will come home safe and sound to repay the loans. Well it's not safe. I mean the sailing is not safe, but the money is. Roger Courtney and team have it in safe hands on dry land. The skipper, and Southern Ocean Residents Association President, could disappear into the ocean yet the funds would still be in safe hands. Thankfully my business seems to run very well without me.
And that's the problem with an entrepreneur, business owner, skipper doing the Vendee. The reason here is that most of my success has been down to my ability to delegate and finding great people to partner with. Now I'm 52 days into the hardest task of all, there's no one to delegate to. I have never worked as hard in all my life. There is no choice. You are totally on your own.
Meanwhile in addition to all the usual maintenance and sailing the boat, the voyage rolls on in what seems an eternity. We're getting closer to solving our computer problems thanks to John Malone who kindly offered his services through Facebook and has now spent much of his Christmas break talking to yours truly.
Happy New Year,
With advice to slow down in order to avoid the worst of a storm, we thought we would make the most of the fact three boats were in close company so decided to have our own Christmas Party. After 50 days of racing 24/7, continually trying to go as fast as possible and to get ahead of other boats, we called a truce, down sails, slowed down, and rendezvoused in the middle of nowhere.
Some 400 miles south of Tasmania, we exchanged gifts, and in my case sang some Christmas carols. I also gave Alan a memory Stick with over 100 movies and a cigar for which he was ecstatic.
On receipt he bellowed back “That will be the first cigar I’ve ever smoked,” As the youngest in the race he has to start sometime! Though he’ll be disappointed all the movies I gave him are respectable not the pornographic ones I told him to expect.
Our most unusual rendezvous under the banner of the Southern Ocean Residents Association was akin to the seen at the trenches in the First World War. Where we have sudden piece from passing storms this past three weeks in the Indian Ocean, 100 years ago the soldiers stopped shooting for a temporary peace in no mans land, met, shook hands, exchanged gifts, before going back into battle with each other.
Anyway I dispatched a small bottle of whiskey and a lucky leprechaun, but alas the throw was a foot short and despite gallant efforts from Eric it was lost to the Ocean.
All three of us had no headsails, and reefed mainsails, and for 36 hours we were going very slowly – to avoid sailing into a massive deep low pressure building south of New Zealand where the winds are set to reach 70 knots and the seas up to 10 metres.
It has been a deeply emotional and moving day. Here on the ocean alone, I’m really appreciative of the gifts from family and friends and the many Christmas greetings sent online.
This support is invaluable for the next phase as we make for the Pacific Ocean and the much anticipated rounded of Cape Horn. It’s a massive stretch of barren water ahead as we dive south again as we had to come up close to pass Australia, if you consider 400 miles close.
With the mast track now damaged at the first spreader it will be impossible to reef further or take the main down. Looks like there will be some interesting heavy weather sailing ahead. Meanwhile we still work on resolving computer issues.
Of course the Indian Ocean Residents Association now merged with the Atlantic Ocean Residents Association and we look forward to meeting our colleagues in the Pacific. With that in mind the Christmas Day presidential address was a very civilized affair with messages of peace, love and harmony.
To top it all off we encountered a school of dolphins. Not the normal ones we’re used to in Western Europe as they have a white stipe, but they look the same otherwise. As I stood on the bow of the boat they ducked and dived while I talked to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if tthey comprehended my incomprehensible conversation – they were clearly conscious of life on deck.
We’re in deep fog, visibility is down to a few yards. The wind has dropped back to 15 knots. It’s wet with a constant drizzle – yet I spent several very happy hours on deck.
It was the first time the wind was less than 20 knots in almost three weeks and back to a sort of normality as we power along some 400 miles south west of Tasmania.
I am fighting a psychological mid voyage crisis, the sheer isolation, and not knowing what will happen next keeps my humble brain in orbit. It is not helped by being on the backup autopilot, no computer and comms, without proper information it’s hard to compete but I’m lucky to be close to the other boats. On the positives at least the sat phone works.
The entire engineering department of the Southern Ocean Residents Association are working to solve all the various problems on board. Also with what seemed like supplies on board being in abundance now everything from paper towels to gas for the stove have to be measured to last so that we can complete the voyage. Also having enough diesel to be able to keep the battery charging is a concern complementing the hydro generators one of which is not working. On deck the big issue is not being able to reef the mainsail in heavy air.
And to think we’re not even half way. At times I despair, other times just exist. And now after many hours of hard physical work we’ve actually had a good day.
Setting the A3 spinnaker up alone is a major task. It starts with lifting the massive sail out of the forepeak, all 280 square metres out through the small fore hatch. Setting up the sheets and eventually the hoist. Normally a task for 5 or 6 on a boat this size.
It’s surreal here as we move along in the fog, totally alone, deep in the southern ocean. The fact that we are sailing along as a group is a strong comfort should something go wrong in this remote location.
A final thought - wouldn't it be fun if all of us in the group downed sails and got together on Christmas Day? A bit like the battle front in the First World War.
Happy Christmas to all.
In the absence of email on board we will pass on any messages to Enda over the satellite phone. Feel free to leave a message on Facebook, comment below, or email a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
He gets a huge lift from all the support so keep it coming!