The mooring lines were freed and I sailed off to attempt to get right round the world via Cape Horn alone, while wonderful supporter Gerry Adamson waved farewell from the shore.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Supporter Gerry now challenged ... Brave and determined friend Gerry Adamson with husband Pat busy with the yacht Spirit of Pentax.
If she breathed a considerable sigh of relief as Spirit of Pentax sailed away from Plymouth I can’t know.

But she certainly had every right to.

Tomorrow Gerry is to be admitted to Southampton Hospital for a very delicate and lengthy heart operation.


There is a similarity between the two events.

She doesn’t have to have the operation any more than it was mandatory for me to attempt to circumnavigate.

And another is that success for both was far from certain.

Should mine have gone wrong and should hers on Thursday, recovery is not very likely. However, the man in charge is the notable Mr Geoffrey Tsang, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon.

His biography shows that he has performed over 700 cardiac procedures at Spire’s Southampton hospital and more than 3000 cardiothoracic operations at the NHS’s Southampton Hospital, all this since 1999.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Captain of the operation ... The specialist surgeon Mr Geoffrey Tsang.
Gerry’s courage as she packed a small suitcase for her ten-day absence reminded of the very different reaction of my own nerves when releasing the jetty warps.

Far more convincingly

Of course, she insisted to her now grown-up family that she would be returning home from the challenge.

I think I uttered something rather similar, though it’s true that Gerry's came with much more conviction and far more convincingly, even though the good lady is now more than 80.

‘Without the op,’ she says, ‘I might live another year.

‘But a successful operation could give me fifteen years. I feel it’s worth it, especially as I’d be very happy to accept another ten.’

I compare the two challenges, Gerry’s and mine, because personal choice is very much involved.

This brave lady doesn’t have to do it, and although I felt compelled by the challenge at the time, it was certainly not mandatory for me either.

And what did Gerry do to aid my circumnavigation voyage?

An enormous amount, though perhaps the most time-demanding was with eggs. These were the little miracles that could keep me alive if other supplies became swamped.

She learned how to keep them edible for a year without refrigeration, even though the temperature in the Southern Ocean often imitated a deep freeze.

Greased 61 dozen eggs

Gerry bought 61 dozen – allowing for two a day for 12 months - and greased each individually with petroleum jelly.

Then she packaged them so that they could withstand the roughest treatment from storms, and if the yacht might be swamped from an inversion. It was a huge task.

And she and husband Patrick helped prepare the stripped out fifty-footer for the voyage, including some painting, repairs and even installing some of the electrical equipment.

In Plymouth, about to leave, a very uncertain and nervous sailor was helped enormously by her absolute confidence, by hers and Pat’s.

So here I am as confident as I can be for Gerry’s very brave voyage into the unknown. Fingers are crossed (behind my back), encouraged by a very brave lady’s courage and determination.

Best of British, Gerry. The very best of luck.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory and on Blogger,

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The blogs for Sailing to Purgatory are introduced on Facebook and Blogger.