Sydney parishioner Andrew Brazier has braved injury and inclement weather to complete a 15,000km solo trip across the Pacific Ocean – finishing it without even the use of his boat engine.
Ending his three-month sail to raise awareness and $100,000 for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation brought “an amazing mix of emotions” he told The Catholic Weekly.
“There’s the amazing joy of getting to land, and I guess of completing a journey – a journey without an end is not a journey and it was a beautiful end.
“But there is also the loss of the peace and feeling of being at sea which was a wonderful experience.”
The 27-year old hospital registrar and member of Lewisham’s Maternal Heart of Mary parish left Sydney Harbour on 24 March and is still yet to reach his $100,000 target.
He reached Los Angeles’ Long Beach amid 4th of July celebrations in his aptly named 10m sloop Perpetual Succour.
He made one unscheduled stop, at New Zealand, to rest and seek an x-ray of his right shoulder, which had dislocated but which he managed to fix during an excruciating 14-hour ordeal.
On 24 June he lost his engine propeller which effectively made the engine useless and his final approach into harbour “very stressful and difficult”.
Readers who followed Andrew’s Alone in the Pacific blog and Facebook page discovered a talented writer as he sat down to chronicle his journey with humour and poignancy every evening.
“I’m going to miss your daily accounts of life at sea alone,” wrote one Facebook user.
“Thanks again for sharing the journey and for raising awareness for your cause.”
Andrew, who taught himself to sail, said the most amazing moment of his adventure came at its end.
“Just as I was starting to come close to land I came through a pod of whales and a whole bunch of dolphins and thousands of birds,” he said.
“Just the amount of life in front of me, it actually blew me away and I shed a few tears.”
In relaying the moment that night he wrote, “You leave such an encounter with a firm conviction that the presence of life is beautiful, and such a beauty must proceed from a great love.”
He said the hardest challenge was fighting strong trade winds for weeks after crossing the equator.
“It’s not dangerous sailing, but it’s very rough and wet and an uncomfortable daily grind.
“I think that’s where faith comes into it the most, just having the strength to keep going through that.”
He took some books to read and “fell in love” with the Old Testament book of Isaiah.
“I read it all probably 30 times and found something new every single time.
“There’s a lot of beautiful hope in Isaiah and you need that on a journey, particularly when it’s difficult and you can keep your eyes firmly fixed on the end.”
Andrew especially wanted to thank his mother Georgina for her support and food supplies, the rest of his family, and everyone who followed him through the blog and donated to help disadvantaged children in remote communities gain a love of reading and learning.
He has now travelled to Pennsylvania to spend the next couple of months helping to build part of a new Carmelite monastery using a traditional drystone technique, at the request of his sister, Sr Mariam.
And after all his sailing and building work, Andrew says he will return to his “vocation of medicine”.
“It’s been nice to have a little bit of a break but there’s also a bit of a tug to get back into it, so that’s probably the next step after the monastery, to get back to the wonderful world of medicine.
“But I know this trip will be reflected from now on in every single thing I do.”
Support Andrew’s journey and donate
Go to www.everydayhero.com
Search for ‘solo pacific crossing’
Click on the ‘donate’ button and follow the prompts.