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Update on Jon Sanders AO OBE in St. Maarten

by Daria Blackwell / OCC 27 Mar 06:01 UTC
Jon Sanders © Steve Siguaw s/v Aspen

On his record 11th circumnavigation, Jon aged 81 stopped in St. Maarten to drop off water samples that he's been collecting en route.

Eighty-one-year-old Australian sailing legend Jon Sanders is circling the earth as part of the worldwide push to raise awareness of plastic waste and microplastics. He is collecting ocean samples throughout his expedition to create a database on the amount of microplastics in southern hemisphere oceans. Jon has already completed 10 circumnavigations. Following is an update from Stephen Davis, the coordinator of Jon's project.

Dear Voyage Supporters,

Jon has arrived in St Maarten, in the Caribbean, having sailed almost 12,000nm. That's approximately halfway through the circumnavigation. There are a few issues with the power system on Perie Banou II which must be addressed before Jon continues the voyage. Fortunately, Paul Stratford is also at St Maarten and has kindly offered to assist Jon. Paul caught up with Jon in April 2017 in the BVI on Jon's last voyage through the Caribbean at which time Paul managed to get Jon's AIS transmitter up and running. History seems to have a habit of repeating itself and the AIS is not transmitting again but Paul is on hand.

It seems there is nowhere to escape COVID-19. St Maarten's borders have been closed and Jon is confined to the harbour for at least two weeks as a locked-down period. If Jon is then able to depart St Maarten and resume the voyage he will soon face a mandatory two weeks quarantine before transiting the Panama Canal. At present, it seems Jon will be faced with a two week quarantine period at every one of the four scheduled ports of call across the Pacific before reaching the East coast of Australia. Jon may then be subject to a fresh quarantine for each Australian state as he makes his to Fremantle essentially being a further four quarantines (Qld, NSW, Vic, WA). The situation is fluid, to say the least.

The voyage then stretches to an additional four months for which we would certainly need to raise further funds (mainly to meet marina and port fees) to complete the voyage and sampling for microplastics. We hope to very soon have Curtin University's initial results of microplastics from Jon's sampling across the southern Indian Ocean.

The ban on international flights also means some of the voyage supporters who were to join Jon (at their own expense) and assist him through the Panama Canal will not be able to make the journey. So, we are faced with a few issues that we are working through. Our first and foremost priority is to keep Jon healthy and of course, the simplest way to do that is to keep him at sea, so we are considering how we can reduce the number of ports of call. The main reason Jon calls at ports is to send the water samples to Australia for analysis and use the port call as an opportunity to reprovision. (To answer a couple of questions from voyage followers, "Yes, Jon does meet the costs of his food and all personal expenses during the voyage".) Space on Perie Banou II determines the limit on provisioning. The first Perie Banou was an S&S 34 and not large enough to carry sufficient provisions for a triple circumnavigation hence Challenger, a 47 foot yacht, was refitted and commissioned as Parry Endeavour. Parry Endeavour departed Fremantle with 3.5 tonnes of stores. Perie Banou II has a more limited capacity for stores.

So there is some work for us to figure out the best way to keep Jon healthy and continue the voyage without blowing the remaining voyage budget on port and marina fees.

We will keep you posted. Meanwhile the Voyage Blogs at will let you follow Jon's view of the situation.

With our thanks for your support and ongoing interest.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Ocean Cruising Club.

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