FOUR MONTHS and 10,250 miles later…
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 fishingworld.com, 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.
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.
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.