Ella’s Pink Lady
The S&S (Sparkman and Stephens) 34, a classic design from the famous Sparkman & Stephens, it is known firstly for its seaworthiness, toughness and track record. It is a boat capable of consistent speeds and one that Jessica can easily handle.
The S&S 34 became famous after Jon Sanders, David Dicks and Jesse Martin used them for their history making solo circumnavigations.
There is now an S&S 34 association and hundreds of other S&S 34 have made and are making successful circumnavigations and offshore passages.
S&S 34’s are commonly entered in the notorious Sydney to Hobart and many participate in club racing all around Australia and the world.
Length Overall: 10.23m
Waterline Length: 7.37m
The Route & The Rules
Jessica's goal was to sail solo around the world non-stop, unassisted. A goal she achieved. She chose a route that is a traditionally recognised path and distance for ‘around the world sailors’. As this is a Southern Hemisphere voyage the significant landmarks are the southern tips of the American and African continents, as well as some of the most challenging oceans a sailor will ever face. The entire journey was a mix of amazing experience and unique challenges.
There were a few key targets Jessica had to achieve to qualify for around the world status. The approximate distance is 23,000 nautical miles. She had to depart and arrive from the same port, cross all lines of longitude, cross the equator entering into the Northern Hemisphere at least once and round the southern landmarks of South America and South Africa. She achieved all of this.
I have described the journey in parts below to give you an idea of my path:
Part 1 – Departing Sydney and North to the Line Island
Out of the Sydney Heads and towards northern New Zealand. Then I turn north and head towards Fiji.
Once past Fiji and Samoa my course was northeast to the Line Islands. The Equator was just South of Christmas Island. I then rounded the islands in the Line Group that is north of the equator.
Part 2 – South to Chile and Cape Horn
With the Line Islands behind me it was due south for a while. To make South America I needed to head a long way down before I turned east. This area is well known as the roaring forties.
The Everest of ocean sailing is rounding Cape Horn. It’s a famous landmark that is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile. It divides the South Pacific with the South Atlantic and is a significant milestone in the voyage. Rounding the Cape was one of the highlights of my voyage.
Part 3 – Cape to Cape
Once around the base of South America, I turned due north for some calmer weather and what I thought would be a short rest. and calmer seas. The track took me reasonably close to the Falkland Islands.
Part 4 – The South Atlantic Ocean to the African continent
The next passage was unforgiving but rewarding ocean sailing. As the crow flies the southern points of South America and South Africa are about 3,500 nautical miles but my track took me a long way south of Africa. The Atlantic storm I experienced was ferocious, with 4 knockdowns in one night, with winds over 75 knots and waves of 15 metres and higher.
Part 5 – Rounding South Africa
The Cape of Good Hope is probably the most recognised landmark for southern Atlantic sailors. It’s not the southernmost point of Africa, but sailors that used to travel from the north used this Cape as the point where they could start heading more east. Cape Agulhas is the most southern landmark and divides the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Despite all these capes and geography I wasn’t very close to land. It was however another milestone and I was getting much closer to home.
Part 6 – Southern Ocean to Home
From South Africa it’s the vastness of the Southern Ocean. Despite the next continent being Australia there is a lot of sailing that had to be done. Over 4,000 nautical miles (direct track) of open and often unforgiving seas.
Entering Australian waters was a great feeling. Almost 20,000 nautical miles at sea and I was almost home. Given Australia is the largest island in the world, it still took some time to get from Western Australia to my home port of Sydney. And we copped the worst weather of the entire voyage for the next 3 weeks.
Then it was on to South East Cape which is Tasmania’s most southern landmark. From there I headed north to the mainland and on to Sydney Harbour. The feeling of returning home to my family and friends on 15 May was something I will remember forever. What an incredible day!