T minus 3 days

This is my first time writing a blog so please bear with me as I find my stride. I’m generally not one to put my thoughts and feelings on paper, but I know many friends and family are both concerned about the adventure I’m about to embark upon and are interested to follow my journey.

So, here goes…

A few months ago I had no plans to follow a lifelong dream and sail across the ocean. I was focussed on trying to grow a business and had big plans and aspirations that were the culmination of years of work. And then the virus hit at the same time as some major life changes occurred and I felt like Mike Tyson just punched me in the face.

I was down, but not out. In times of trauma, we look to areas that we can control to give us comfort and a sense of security and while I had no way to control my business’ outcome (which took a while to accept) nor my life in Hong Kong, a little light at the back of my head went off and said it was time to go home to Australia, but on my own terms and to sail there. To embrace the uncertainty of life of the follow a dream.

I’ve never skippered a long ocean passage before, but I have a high appetite for risk and (thankfully) a decent ability to think through complex situations and execute. I wanted an adventure but also to escape and to try and reconnect with myself and nature and to heal. So, the past 6 weeks I’ve pulled together a great team to help me sail from Hong Kong to Australia via the Pacific, PNG and the Solomon Islands and we’ve been working diligently to prepare the boat so it meets Cat 1 off-shore regulations – the highest set of safety regulations for boats this size. Communications is the most important aspect as with comms comes weather updates and given I’m heading into the Pacific in the early part of the typhoon season, knowing what’s ahead of me will be crucial to ensuring I can safely manage my biggest risk – getting hit by a typhoon.

All other risks from collision to medical issues (in particular infection), to making sure I take enough diesel, water and food have been discussed, and plans put in place with multiple levels of redundancy.

I recently read that others who have done similar journeys take between 1-3 years to prepare, yet for me it’s been less than 2 months. It’s safe to say it’s been an exhausting process, but given I’m sitting here writing my first blog post just three days before departure, rather than working through lists dealing with Sat Comms, AIS, solar power generation, diesel calculations, or medical kits it’s a good sign that I’m almost ready to go.

I’m sure I’ll have lots of time to write more when I’m at sea. To be honest, I’m counting the moments until I’m not contactable by anyone (at least for work) and am not bombarded by the daily deluge of bad news and stress.

I have no idea what the journey will bring or how I’ll respond, but I’ve done my best to prepare and I’m confident I’ll be able to work it out. That’s not to say I’m not slightly terrified though. The fear has driven me to prepare as best I can and to surround myself with some great sailors, meteorologists and experts as long-distance solo sailing is certainly a team sport. Once I’m on the water, it’s just me and Ahyoka, taking on mother nature together. But for now, it’s back to my lists…

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Rory Hunter


Entrepreneur. Chief Executive Officer, Song Saa Collective. Pioneers of sustainable development in South-East Asia. The collective includes Song Saa Resorts and Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago. 2006, co-established the Koh Ouen Marine Reserve, Cambodia’s first-ever marine protected area. The reserve has since expanded to 400 square kilometres and has gained the support of Monaco’s Prince Albert II. 2013, founded the Song Saa Foundation, an independent NGO dedicated to preserving Koh Rong’s underwater sanctuaries, providing alternative means of livelihood for its residents and bringing much-needed healthcare and education to the region. Speaker at international conferences, including the G20 Summit in Brisbane in 2014. World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Member of the prestigious Young Presidents Organisation. Former advertising executive and worked for multinational firms including Saatchi and Saatchi. Graduate, Harvard Business School; studied sustainability and resilience, Stanford University: Global Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School; BEcon, Sydney University. Completed the Coast to Coast in 2015, one of the world’s toughest endurance races, set in New Zealand, in 17 hours; offshore sailor, downhill skier, long-distance runner and proud dad of two boys.