A Momentus Week

Boston tea party

NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION

In history there are a very few weeks that are of significant importance to the world, but we are just completing one such week.

A number of events in Europe during this week have collectively been of great significance. The collective power and wealth of the countries that form the European Union make these events of immense importance to the world.

BSD decided not to comment on the events as they unfolded, but to reflect and research before posting comment.

That comment will be posted during the coming days.

In the meantime, we congratulate the people of the Irish Republic for their exercise of democracy in the face of bribes and intimidation

BSD Newsdesk

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THE DREAM CAME TRUE

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The smile that said it all – (photo – Louise Flanagan)

The Alpha Global Expedition ended at 11.00am on Wednesday 21st May when Barrabas crossed the start / finish line between Calshot Spit and Hillhead in the Solent. Adrian Flanagan became the first single-handed sailor to achieve a ‘vertical’ circumnavigation of the earth. Below, in his own words, Adrian describes the end of his epic voyage.

 

“30,825 miles. That’s what the log read when I tied up at the Royal Southern Yacht Club in the Hamble River just after 11.00am on Wednesday 21st May. I had crossed the finish line, a transit between Calshot Spit and Hillhead a few miles before, crossing my outward track – ‘tying the knot’ as it’s called. Events had overtaken time – too much happening to take in, not enough space to accommodate all the images and emotions which time had swept and heaped and stored at this place, the end of the Alpha Global Expedition. Barrabas sailed beautifully from the Dover Strait to Selsey Bill just east of the Solent, so well and fast in fact that we arrived in the eastern Solent late on Monday evening. I decided to find a protected anchorage where I could rest up. I found it in the aptly named Chichester channel………….

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Thanks for a wonderful welcome home

Adrian and Louise wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who have helped to make this voyage of circumnavigation possible, to those who sent messages of support as Adrian prepared to sail away, to those who wrote and emailed during the trip, to all of those who came to make the conclusion such a memorable event today. From Adrian’s preparations, through the voyage he has been deeply touched by the generousity and good will of all those he met – to all those new and much appreciated friends.

Today has been an incredible experience for Adrian and his family. It was not until 15:30 that they were able to enjoy lunch as guests of the Commodore of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and there is a busy afternoon and evening ahead.

Below is a set of photographs very kindly supplied by the British national newspaper the Daily Express, photographer Steve Reigate.

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The cup that refreshes – courtessy Royal Navy

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A great adventure but great to be home

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Family celebration

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Adrian with two very proud sons

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Maybe its worth going round again just for a welcome like this

Over the coming days an weeks there is a task ahead to sort through the images of this outstanding achievement of an ordinary man doing something extraordinary, living a dream.

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Full Day Ahead

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Today will be a very full day for Adrian Flanagan as he ends a unique voyage – an outstanding achievement.

Perhaps the final course chosen was a gentle build up to today. Originally, Adrian considered leaving Norway and heading South and West around the Shetlands and the Scottish islands, along the West coast of Ireland and round the South West tip of England to reach the Solent. That would be a longer journey but probably his last in Barrabas before she is sold. After looking at all the options, including forecast weather and timings, It was decided that Adrian would take the shorter route into the North Sea and through the Channel to his finish line.

By taking this option, Adrian encountered progressively heavier traffic as he crossed ferry routes and approached the incredibly busy Channel. For most of his 31,000 mile voyage, he had been out of sight of land and rarely saw another ship. Company was the occasional whale, dolphins, flying fish, sea birds, walrus and polar bear – a solitary existence. Today he will be the centre of attention and surrounded by boats and people. It will be a very busy day.

For Expedition Manager and ex-wife Louise, the activity started yesterday with a full schedule of interviews and planning meetings in preparation for today.

Inevitably, this blog will not keep up with the day’s events and so many things are happening, but with the exact order still being finalized.

The Royal Navy have sent a fast patrol vessel out to meet Adrian and to escort him to his moorings at the Royal Southern Yacht Club. The Daily Telegraph is due to publish the first of two articles in the edition today. There is a live interview with BBC radio for the Johnny Walker Show. Other interviews with the press, radio and television and a well deserved celebration of an outstanding achievement.

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BRITISH YACHTSMAN COMPLETES FIRST EVER ‘VERTICAL’ CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF THE GLOBE

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Adrian with crystal polar bear presented to him in Murmansk

Intrepid sailor, Adrian Flanagan will sail in to Southampton Water tomorrow, the first person to complete a singlehanded ‘vertical’ circumnavigation of the globe, westwards around Cape Horn and across the Russian Arctic Coast. Adrian’s challenge to set the record for sailing round the world ‘over the top’ has tested the limits of his endurance. He is the only yachtsman to have ever sailed Russia’s Arctic Coast along the Northern Sea Route single-handed. Amongst many adventures, Adrian has been washed overboard, dislocated both wrists, suffered two knock-downs at Cape Horn and been tracked by pirates off Brazil, but tomorrow he will sail up the River Hamble to a tremendous welcome from family and friends.

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ADRIAN FLANAGAN ARRIVAL TIME – WEDNESDAY 21st MAY 2008 – ROYAL SOUTHERN YACHT CLUB

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Royal Southern Yacht Club moorings and club house

From the water – At 10.00am Adrian will be arriving in Southampton Water on his yacht Barrabas. At 11.00am Adrian and Barrabas will moor at the visitor’s pontoon of The Royal Southern Yacht Club at Hamble. Any change to this schedule will be posted on the front page of The Alpha Global Expedition website www.alphaglobalex.com. Directions to the Royal Southern are on their web site www.royal-southern.co.uk

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Meet and Greet Arctic style, Walrus float past Barrabas near the remote island of Ostrov Peschanyy

British yachtsman, Adrian Flanagan, 47 from Buckinghamshire will arrive at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Southampton on Wednesday morning to complete the first single-handed ‘vertical’ circumnavigation. Flanagan will have sailed more than 30,000 miles on his 40-foot Stainless Steel yacht Barrabas in pursuit of a boyhood dream inspired after he read Sir Francis Chichester’s ‘Gipsy Moth Circles the World’. Flanagan set sail in October 2005. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who became the first man to sail around the world alone without stopping described Flanagan’s voyage as, ‘seriously difficult’.

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Barrabas approaches Diamond Head Buoy off Oahu

Flanagan was forced to break his voyage twice. He said, ‘My route westwards around Cape Horn and along the Russian Arctic coast had never been done before. The delays reflect the degree of difficulty, not only physical but political.’ Only six yachts have been given permission by the Russian authorities to travel the Northern Sea Route. Two of those were Russian. All were crewed and carried a mandatory Russian ice-pilot onboard. Flanagan wanted to go it alone – single-handed and without an ice pilot. Bureaucratic delay forced Flanagan to lay up his yacht in Nome, Alaska during the winter of 2006-7. He eventually won permission to go into the militarily sensitive areas of northern Russia’s Arctic waters in July 2007. Barrabas became the first British flagged yacht to go there. Flanagan commented, ‘True adventure requires a unique aspect, something pioneering, something that’s never been done. To have become the first solo yachtsman to enter the Russian Arctic is irreducible. It is the crowning achievement of the voyage, not just for me but for everyone involved.’

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Roman Abramovich, Governor of Chukotka Province, Russian Federation

Flanagan’s Alpha Global Expedition is managed by his ex-wife, Louise. She won the support of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who is governor of Chukotka province in Siberia. Fewer single-handed sailors have gone around the notorious Cape Horn against wind and current than astronauts who have walked on the moon. His yacht sustained damage during a hurricane which forced him to call into Honolulu to make repairs before heading north to the Bering Strait. Flanagan sailed 2,000 miles of the Northern Sea Route before impenetrable ice blocked his path. A Russian icebreaker convoy transported the yacht through the ice to Murmansk. Flanagan wintered the yacht in Mehamn, northern Norway before the third and final leg of his voyage. He departed Mehamn on 1st May.

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Barrabas and HMS Mersey off the English coast

Last week the Royal Navy paid tribute by dispatching HMS Mersey to rendezvous with Flanagan at sea. Lieutenant Commander Alan Wilson described Flanagan’s voyage as ‘momentous’. Along the way Flanagan has been swept from the deck by a rogue wave without his lifeline attached, dislocated both his wrists and been shadowed by pirates off the coast of Brazil. As he sails the final miles of his global marathon Flanagan commented, ‘To live but not to dream is pointless, but to dream and not to live it is worse.’ Flanagan has two sons, Benjamin 9 and Gabriel 6. ‘Over the Top’, the book of Adrian’s epic voyage is published by Wiedenfeld & Nicolson on 9th October. Online pre-ordering at tinyurl.com/453l4j

Louise Flanagan

Expedition Manager

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ROYAL NAVY MORALE BOOSTER FOR SOLO YACHTSMAN

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HMS Mersey in company with SY Barrabas.

HMS Mersey, one of the Royal Navy’s newest Offshore Patrol Vessels currently undertaking Fishery Protection duties in the North Sea, was able to make a morale boosting visit to lone British yachtsman Adrian Flanagan on Fri evening.

Flanagan (47) is undertaking a world first with his single-handed, vertical circumnavigation of the globe westwards via Cape Horn and the Russian Arctic and hopes to sail his 38 ft stainless steel sloop Barrabas back home to the Hamble later this week.

HMS Mersey’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Alan Wilson Royal Navy, said:

‘I am really pleased that HMS Mersey had the opportunity to meet up with Adrian on the final leg of his momentous journey around the world. As a fellow seafarer I have the utmost respect for what he has achieved, particularly as it is all for charity. Adrian looked on fine form and his morale was obviously very high. Everyone on board is delighted that they could contribute towards Adrian’s chosen charities and wish him the very best for his return to Southampton next week.’

Find out more about HMS Mersey at:
http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.00h00100100800c008005

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Unexpected rendezvous with the Royal Navy

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HMS Mersey pictured alongside Barrabas at sunset last night

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Talk about special delivery!

Adrian Flanagan aboard Barrabas reports on his meeting last night:

position at 0700 UCT: 54.44 north, 00.05 west.

A good thing I had a shower earlier today because this evening I had some unexpected visitors. With the sea more like a lake on a calm day and only a zephyr to nudge Barrabas along at a couple of knots, I was lying on my bunk reading while waiting for the northeast winds which are due in the early hours. The Radar was on. The alarm sounded. A contact had entered the guard perimeter I’d set at 6 miles. I went topside. A ship was heading north on my starboard side. I went back to my reading. A few minutes later, the alarm sounded again. Maybe it was the same ship. I watched the Radar screen from my bunk. No, this was a second contact. I watched the blip for several minutes. Whatever it was she was moving fast and coming towards Barrabas.

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AGX Position Update

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Adrian emailed:

“Good morning – position at 0700 UCT: 54.44 north, 00.05 west. Going well. Winds arrived as expected – now making 5.3 knots nose to target. “

Current forecasts for the next four days are looking good although the North Sea is notorious for its sudden mood changes.

The wind kicked in yesterday a little later than expected but is now as forecast. Under present conditions, Barrabas will be visible from the shore for much of the remaining distance back home to the Solent. Adrian is expected to ‘cut the corner’ as he approaches the Wash to reduce distance and to avoid the sand banks. He may be visible again from the North Norfolk coast and is expected to work close in from Winterton Point, following the shore line in past Caister, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Southwold and Aldeburgh. On this section he will come within a few hundred metres of the shore and Barrabas is highly visible in her unpainted stainless steel construction with the bright red survival dinghy lashed to the foredeck.

For those intending to go out to meet Adrian as he passes, please give him sea room but he will be delighted to see you.

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Mixed emotions as the end draws near

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Fixing a boom breaker line that had parted during a storm in the Norwegian Sean

Entering UK territorial waters bought a comfort similar to a favourite blanket – even the place names on the Shetland Islands conjured a soothing familiarity – Sullom Voe, Muckle Flugga, Lerwick. No more grappling with unpronounceable Russian or tongue-twisting Norwegian (even though some of the names in the Hebrides may have Viking origins). I am past the Shetlands
now, south of them that is and past Fair Isle. The Orkneys are on my right, below the horizon. I am closer to London than some northern UK dwellers. That kind of abstract thought raises morale not that morale needs too much feeding with the third day of following winds which are set to continue driving me south at a good lick.

Last night I spoke to the coastguard on the Shetlands. I needed sleep – could they tell me what shipping was in the area? I’d spotted three trawlers and two ships during the day. Not every vessel showed up on Radar they said – I stayed awake through the night. It was a good time to think. My thoughts and feelings are changing, morphing as the end nears. I sail the boat, attend to routine maintenance but my mind is more occupied with the sensation of change. A hugely important chapter in my life is drawing towards its end and with it comes a peculiar juxtaposition – a rising euphoria set against the ebb of impending loss. The euphoria is easy to understand, the loss less so. Perhaps it’s the ending of this profound experience that I have shared with Barrabas or the ending of that special relationship which can only ever be manifested out on the open sea. Sir
Francis Chichester apparently hated Gipsy Moth IV. Perhaps. It’s difficult to know how a boat which has carried a man around the earth cannot then own a part of his essence, for that ownership to be willingly handed over with a dollop of love and gratitude. I wonder how Chichester or indeed Sir Robin Knox-Johnston or Sir Chay Blyth or the grandfather of single-handed circumnavigations Joshua Slocum felt as they approached home, only days away from stepping ashore? Similar feelings I suspect, a kaleidoscope of competing emotion. These men and others were true pioneers, stepping into what was then the unknown in terms of human isolation and endurance. Today there is inevitably less opportunity for such discovery but Barrabas has carved her own unique track around the world. Perhaps that is where my sense of loss originates, in stopping doing what no-one else has ever done before.

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