After eight years of total commitment, blood sweat and tears, Don and Margie finally launched the 50ft ‘SPONSOR WANTED’ and sailed to the start of the BOC challenge in New Port, Rhode Island USA.
They had also built Japanese friend and fellow competitor Minoru Saito’s boat ‘Shuten Dojhi II’. (Minoru in that boat, ultimately sailed a total of seven solo circumnavigations together).
Massive support from friends and business got them to the start line, but still with over $300,000 of debt.
46 days after the start, Don arrived in Cape town. At the half way point in Sydney after another 34 days through the Southern Ocean, where he was knocked down many times by giant waves, finances were critical and no one was sure he could keep sailing. Fortunately Buttercup Bakeries and support from Derryn Hinch and channel 7 kept the dream alive! With a new name ‘BUTTERCUP’, Don set out for Cape Horn. Huge storms swept through the Fleet. He was on one occasion rolled 360 degrees, but his well built and prepared vessel survived, arriving in Punta del Este 39 days later, relieved to be out of the Southern Ocean. In the final leg back to Newport, Don suffered a broken forestay, but went on to take second place in his class, with a total elapsed time of 153 days, 12 hours, 21 minutes.
It was an epic 27,000 mile voyage with all the excitement and drama you would imagine. Don was the 98th person ever in history, to sail solo around the world. At that time there had been nearly three times that many people rocket into space! He gained a massive following in Australia, produced an epic documentary of his race and started planning to do it again in 1994!