On November 11 last year 53-year-old Andrew Halcrow slipped quietly and unannounced out of port in his 30-foot yacht Elsi, on the start of a single-handed, 40,000-mile Falmouth to Falmouth west about circumnavigation.
Andrew is no stranger to long distance sailing. The Shetland islander, a blacksmith by trade, has already sailed part the way around the world with his brother in a five-year long adventure beginning in 1988. However, he had a burning desire to sail single-handed around the world.
In 2006 he set sail on a single-handed round the world voyage but 300 miles off the south Australian coast he suffered a burst appendix. He contacted his wife who alerted Shetland Coastguard, who in turn passed the information to their colleagues at Falmouth.
An Australian aircraft located him just four hours after the initial alert. In a rescue operation co-ordinated by Falmouth Coastguard he was airlifted to hospital in Albany. His yacht was left to drift. Months later, relatively unscathed Elsi had drifted ashore in Australia. Andrew made arrangements to have his craft returned to Shetland on a freighter.
At the time, Andrew insisted he had no intention of ever embarking on a similar journey again. After refitting Elsi he decided to have another attempt at his round the world voyage.
This week, Andrew was sailing down the eastern coast of south America. He expects to be back in Falmouth in December. Elsi is averaging between 80 and 110 miles every day. His route is from Falmouth down through the North and South Atlantic, then round Cape Horn, up the west coast of South America, across the South Pacific in the SE trades to the Torres Straits, across the Indian Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope and back up to Falmouth.
Before sailing from Falmouth Andrew said: “If I don’t do it now, I am never going to do it. I dinna want to be sitting in an old folks’ home, being 90 years old and thinking I really should have done it.”
Readers can follow Andrew’s progress at www.elsiarrub.co.uk