PEI

Stormy start for P.E.I. man's solo round-the-world sail

A P.E.I. man started an around-the-world solo sail Wednesday morning, following a rough start on the first leg of his journey.

'It really shakes the cobwebs out'

Mulholland once solo sailed from B.C. to Brisbane, Australia. Now, he says he's ready to go around the world. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

A P.E.I. man started an around-the-world solo sail Wednesday morning, following a rough start on the first leg of his journey.

Alan Mulholland left Summerside Sunday morning on board the 26-foot Wave Rover, aiming for Port Hawkesbury, N.S. His friend Darren Bolger was with him for this first leg of his journey, which he expected would take about 30 hours.

But the weather was against him from the start.

"The wind was against us so we had to tack all the way up to the Confederation Bridge. It was lovely but takes twice as long when you have to tack. It's a zigzag manoeuvre," said Mulholland, on the phone from Port Hawkesbury Wednesday morning.

"Then, when we got to St. George's Bay, which is just before Port Hawkesbury, just lightning and thunder and torrential rain. I could only see about 50, 75 feet in front of me. And the wind picked up to storm proportions, but just for a short period, maybe 20 or 30 minutes and just blew us right back into the middle of the bay."

The trip ended up being 40 hours, and Mulholland took a little extra time to dry out and recuperate in Port Hawkesbury after the storm. He said the experience in the Northumberland Strait has not given him any misgivings.

"It really shakes the cobwebs out and it was a great primer for heading out on the ocean," he said.

Avoiding freighters

Mulholland left for the Azores on his own Wednesday morning, a journey he expects will take about three weeks. There will be precious little sleep during that time, he said. Brief naps only.

"Solo sailors estimate that you have about 20 minutes between watching," he said.

"You set the boat up to steer itself first off, and then you look around the horizon, make sure there are no contacts, no other ships that may be approaching you, and then you put your head down for about 20 minutes, you set an alarm, you wake up, you do it again, and again, and again. Because 20 minutes would be about the time that a freighter moving at 15 to 18 knots would be able to approach you."

From the Azores, Mulholland will travel to the Canary Islands, then the Caribbean, and through the Panama Canal to the Pacific.

From there his route is less certain. He'd like to navigate around the Cape of Good Hope if he's feeling up to it. But he's trying not to think too far ahead so he doesn't overwhelm himself.

He expects the whole trip will take about two years.

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With files from Island Morning

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