Skye – Don’s first boat
In 1973, at the age of 18 living in Adelaide, Don began building a replica of Robin Knox Johnston’s ‘Suhaili’, the 32ft Double ended William Atkins ‘Erik’ design Robin had sailed solo, non-stop around the world in 1968 (the first person ever to do so). He won the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.
Knox-Johnston had been Don’s boyhood hero. Surfing, SCUBA diving and motor bikes were also a passion for Don, so after three years, he decided to sell the part finished boat and instead began fitting out a smaller ‘Duncanson 29’ production boat, hull and deck. Equipped with all the gear, ‘Skye’ became his home in 1978 and for the next three years, he sailed from Adelaide to Sydney, on up into the Great Barrier Reef and then solo out into the Pacific islands.
During this adventure, he met up with and assisted UK solo sailor David Scott Cowper, sailing ‘Ocean Bound’, in his attempt to beat Sir Francis Chichester’s solo record. He assisted David again a few years later, going the opposite way, attempting to beat Chay Blyth’s solo ‘wrong way’ record. These events had a profound influence on Don’s future direction in life.
On the homeward journey he met Margie which would change his life!