A Summerside man who planned to sail around the world is about to start the final leg of the journey – an early trip home.
"Ending it here (at this leg) is still great. I'm really happy with the voyage," said Alan Mulholland.
Mulholland's solo sail was cut short in early January when his boat, Wave Rover, sustained damage after a six-metre wave picked up his ship and threw it back into the sea. He was alone and in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about 800 miles from the French territory of Martinique, about three-quarters of the way across the Atlantic.
He was able to dock in Martinique about eight days later. He was planning to spend eight weeks in the French territory, but the arrival of coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) changed everything.
"We've been in 24-hour lockdown for almost two months. We're under the same restrictions as mainland France. We're not allowed to travel to any other ports or dock anywhere or else you'll be sent back."
With a population of 350,000, Martinique has seen about 175 positive cases of COVID-19.
"Martinique has done great at responding to the pandemic."
The only way Mulholland can leave the territory is by heading straight for Canada.
He says the 28-day travel will be tough.
"This might be the most challenging leg. There will be a really easy start with the tide winds in the Caribbean ocean," said Mulholland.
"Then I'll enter into the open ocean of the Bermuda Triangle. That will be dependent on the wind. Then about 30 degrees north I should get a west wind, and it should take me into the Maritimes into Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, and then homeward."
Timeline at Sea
Following are some of the key moments in Alan Mulholland's journey:
- Departed from Summerside on July 28, 2019.
- Completed first leg of trip and arrived in the Azores on Aug. 26.
- While in the Azores, Mulholland experienced hurricane Lorenzo in October.
- In early November, Mulholland flew home for a visit with friends and family.
- After returning to sea, Mulholland's boat is damaged on Jan. 12.
- After arriving in Martinique around Jan. 20.
- Upon surveying the damage, Mulholland decides to call off the voyage.
- While in Martinique, coronavirus arrives in the French territory.
- May 12, Mulholland departed from Martinique to return to sail back to Canada
He hopes to be home before the end of June and has enough supplies onboard to last about three months.
"I'm pretty excited. It's quite an advanced trip. Usually, sailors will go around the eastern seaboard and go for one to two days of travel and then stop into the little harbours. But that's not allowed in this case. I'm really comfortable in taking it up."
Mulholland's wife, Glenda, said she is confident he will be able to complete the leg.
"He's very well prepared. I'm very anxious to have him home."
As a pharmacy assistant, she said she has been working more than usual.
"People have come up to me during his trip to wish him well and to say they're following his journey. We appreciate all the support.
"It's bittersweet that he's coming home because this has been such a dream of his. But I couldn't imagine another year without him."
Mulholland's circumnavigation was planned to take about two years. The damage sustained to his ship in January would have extended his trip another year.
Despite the early departure, Mulholland said his feelings about the trip haven't changed.
"Every part of the trip I've been able to meet the most amazing people. And the thrill of adventure has been everything I thought it would be."
During his travel, he released letters in a bottle into the ocean as part of a project with Summerside Intermediate School. Letters have been launched off the Cape Verde Islands, in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. The last two he plans to launch in the Bermuda Triangle.
To keep up with his journey follow the Facebook page.
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