A damaged rig has forced Adrian Flanagan to call in to Hawaii for repairs 11/5/06

Adrian Flanagan has had his share of mishaps when he set out in October 2005 to become the first person to sail round the world alone via Cape Horn and the North-East Passage. Adrian was forced to restart his record attempt after a turbulent start due to foul weather on the south coast of England. But he left Falmouth on 9 November in his 38ft sloop Barrabas and has been at sea for 195 days now, rounding Cape Horn in February 2006.

In Cape Horn Adrian was met with rough weather where Barrabas suffered two near knockdowns, as a wave breaking over the cockpit poured gallons of water into the companionway and ignited an electrical fire.

But just as things were looking up, and Adrian was only days away from Hawaii, he reported problems of “a strange twanging sound from the mast.” Upon inspection he noticed that “the shrouds that support the mast had become looser and the mast top was very off centre…”. Adrian proceeded to climb the mast to take a closer look and discovered two critical damage points. The spreaders were coming away from the mast and need rewelding but most importantly the through bolt that supports the shrouds had ripped through the mast tube.

On Monday 8 May, Adrian Flanagan stepped ashore for the first time in over six months. He claims to be the first person to sail single-handed non-stop between the UK and Hawaii. He still plans to continue to the North-East Passage on his voyage home.

Adrian reports:

After a very difficult passage from the equator towards the Hawaiian Islands, I finally arrived off Diamond Head, Oahu. The rendezvous with members of the Waikiki yacht club was set for 1115 at Diamond Head Buoy. I was relieved to arrive, having had to navigate without charts or pilotage. I was also exhausted. I had anticipated the passage from the equator to Hawaii to be an easier phase with warmer temperatures and steady downwind conditions. Not so. It has been the most difficult passage so far. I discovered on arrival that aberrant weather patterns had delivered unusually inclement weather and torrential downpours in Hawaii. On Oahu, the sewage system backed up and dumped 48 million gallons into the harbour. Undoubtedly, this weather disturbance accounted for some truly horrific seas I encountered en route.

Close to the island of Hawaii, I contacted the United States Coast Guard as a precautionary measure should the rig collapse. We established an hourly communication schedule, then switched down to four hourly. The USCG tracked me all the way in even telephoning me on the sat phone once I was in the marina to make sure I was safely alongside.

I approached the islands from the north side. The eve of my arrival turned into the worst day of the worst phase. I was forced to hand steer for 30 hours. So when I arrived, it was with a mighty sense of relief. I was met offshore by Commodore Ivan Chan Wa and Rear Commodore (Sailing) Michael Roth. In addition, a club member from England – Ernie Woodruff came along as ‘translator’! I was led back to the yacht club through the more protected inshore waters. My reward was to be greeted with the wonderful sight of the Honolulu waterfront, a stunning conurbation, a fusion of high rises palm trees, sand and dramatic volcanic stage sets. As I entered the channel into the Ala Wai yacht basin, the Ala Moana Park slid by on my right – lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers manicured and maintained to an exceptional standard. The sight of land now so close brought on an array of emotions – the appreciation of a voyage 18,000 miles in distance and 195 days in duration was about to end and in a place that appeared to the voyager to be nothing short of paradise.

Ivan and Michael had contacted US customs earlier and they were on the pontoon to clear me in. Until the formalities were complete I was requested to remain on board. Meantime, an ice cold Guinness was presented to me – one of the great moments in my adventure! The Hawaiian press arrived quayside, notified and briefed by Bobbie Jennings. I spent a fabulous 30 minutes talking about the voyage and the reasons for stopping in Hawaii. Finally, the moment arrived to step down from Barrabas’s deck and onto land. I found myself suddenly reluctant to leave Barrabas, a sense that I was abandoning her that for several moments I hesitated.

The moment of setting foot on dry land was one I will never forget – relief, satisfaction, pleasure. Together, Barrabas and I had sailed the first single-handed non-stop passage between the UK and Hawaii. We were presented with leis, traditional flower garlands and a special lei of woven tea leaves, a particular honour for Barrabas and which I draped over her bow, as is the tradition.

I inspected the mast more closely for damage further up. This would determine whether the mast would have to be unstepped which would necessitate a much longer stopover since the cranes are booked weeks in advance. Happily, the damage was limited to the lower section of the mast. We would be able to repair in the water.

The welding mend will happen on Tuesday. The sails will go to North Sails for inspect and minor repairs. Meanwhile, I will wire in the wind generator, new computer voltage converter and the Eberspacher heating control unit. I will also take advantage of my time here to have the batteries capacity tested to make sure that they are in good shape.

On my first evening ashore, Ernie drove me to a mountaintop lookout. The scenery is stunning. We descended to Kailua where the beach, fringed with fir and palm would compete with any in the world. The generosity I have been shown is remarkable. The Aloha spirit is strong and present everywhere on Oahu – it is quite simply inspirational.