Around Australia Alone in a Small Boat

Mark Ratchford is the first man to ever circumnavigate Australia in a small outboard-powered boat, a journey of more than 10,000 miles in four months.

December 13, 2016

FOUR MONTHS and 10,250 miles later…

Solo journey around Australia - the boat
High winds, rugged seas and freezing weather and searing heat at various points in Mark Ratchford’s journey challenged his skills and his 21-foot fiberglass boat. Courtesy

Four months and 10,250 miles later, Australian Mark Ratchford has become the first person to ever circumnavigate his home continent solo in a small outboard-powered boat.
As reported on the Aussie site, Ratchford, a Melbourne fishing-charter operator, recently managed the feat in a 6.5-meter (21-foot) Evolution, a fiberglass hardtop pilothouse fishing boat powered by two 150-hp Mercury four-strokes.

solo journey around australia - Mark Ratchford's Evolution boat
Ratchford’s boat: a 6.5-meter (21-foot) Evolution fiberglass hardtop pilothouse fishing boat. Courtesy

The Fishing World report says Ratchford had to deal with huge seas, high winds, freezing weather, sleep deprivation and loneliness during his trip, which took him all the way around Tasmania at the bottom of the continent. There, in the Southern Ocean, he battled swells estimated at 20 feet on top of which marched six-foot seas — and, at times, blowing snow.
Much later, coming down the continent’s east coast, Ratchford was battered by incessant 30- to 40-knot trade winds.
Ratchford says that when fully loaded, his boat carried a ton of extra weight, including five 44-gallon drums of fuel.

solo journey around australia - Mark Ratchford and team
Ratchford’s twin 150 Merc outboards performed perfectly during nonstop, demanding use. Courtesy

Ratchford had nothing but praise for his twin Mercs which, in 680 hours of running time, often working the engines hard, never missed a beat. “I was extremely impressed with their overall performance,” he told Fishing World.
Although the trip may have gratified the man’s sense of adventure, there was also the altruistic motivation of raising money for Australia’s Cancer Council — see (and donate to) Ratchford’s Fish for Life site.


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