Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Aussie Antarctic Solo Sailor Dimasted in Rough Weather in the Southern Ocean

Way back in January I wrote a post about Aussie Lisa Blair, a sailor who was embarking on an attempt to complete a solo circumnavigation around Antarctica along the Southern Ocean. Now, some 72 day after she set out on this epic adventure, Blair has run into trouble amidst bad weather, high winds, and freezing temperatures.

Earlier today, Blair sent out a PAN PAN, which is a signal that she was facing imminent danger and was in need of assistance. Her ship, the Climate Action, ran into trouble when it was hit with 40 knot (46 mph/74 km/h) winds, which broke a mast and knocked the vessel over at least once as swells grew to 7 meters in size.

At the moment, Lisa is no longer in any immediate danger and is preparing to make her way to Cape Town. She was approximately 895 nautical miles (1029 miles/1674 km) from that point when she ran into trouble, but according to reports Blair will now rig an emergency storm sail and motor her way to the South African city for repairs. She'll be met and assisted by another ship that is registered in Hong Kong.

When she embarked on this voyage back in January, Blair was hoping to become the first woman to sail solo and unsupported around Antarctica. She left from Albany, Australia with the intention of breaking the speed record for such an attempt. That record is currently held by Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov and stands at 102 days, 35 minutes, and 50 seconds. Lisa had set her sights on doing it in just 94 days.

By all accounts, Blair is safe and uninjured by the storm, but her ship is now crippled. Barring any more bad weather, she should be able to limp it into port in Cape Town where the damage will be assessed further. For now though, this is the end of her solo attempt. Whether or not she can repair the ship, restock her supplies, and try again at a later date remains to be seen.

At this point, it will be a number of days before she arrives back on land. Search and rescue teams in Cape Town have been notified of the situation and are standing by to lend assistance if needed.

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