Date

Day 36 and 37 – Cursum Perficio – We made it!

How do I put into words what it feels like to be home? To be safe. To have finished my journey.

When I sighted land yesterday, I was overcome with emotion. I was about 50Nm away so didn’t expect to see land that far out. Turns out Cairns has some of the highest mountains in Australia (Mt Bartle is 1,611m above sea level) so when I popped my head above the companionway, I was greeted with a setting sun and the majestic Atherton Tablelands. After 5 and a half weeks at sea and 16 years living abroad, I don’t think there was a prouder Australian on the planet in that moment. Tears streaming down my face, there was a melting pot of relief, joy, pride and patriotism. A moment I’ll never forgot.

The final 5 hours into Cairns were in the dark and I anchored just outside the Marina before midnight as I’m not allowed onshore before the various arrival formalities are complete, most of which happened this morning, though I’m waiting on Quarantine to come at 1:30pm and then I’m cleared to step on land.

Once the anchor was set and the boat safe, I turn off the engine and am greeted by an almost deafening silence and stillness. My senses are almost overwhelmed by the lack of noise and movement. It was a feeling unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I try and soak it in while I pop the cork on a nice bottle of red and call friends and family. Drunk on exhaustion and happiness my saloon feels like a palace it’s so peaceful.

Can I tell you a little secret? When I started this trip, I had never actually done any real solo sailing. Certainly no over-nighters. That first stormy night on the South China Sea was my not so subtle introduction to solo-sailing, but at no time did I regret my decision cast off the mooring lines and sail into the distance. This trip will be a corner stone in my life. A transition point. A junction. A waypoint between two oceans. The Rory before who lived a great 44 years before the 21st May and a new version, one that, in a few short hours, is  about to embark on the rest of his life. The shore that awaits me only meters away will be the first step into a new chapter. A new existence. How exciting to be about to begin a brand-new adventure. I wonder what it will hold…?

100 years on, we still talk about the great depression of the 30s and how it defined a generation. How it changed the behaviour of our grandparents or great grandparents. Why many were risk averse and thrifty. What they did during that time. Covid19 will have a similar impact, with generations to come curious to know what their parents, grandparents and great grand parents did during the “great shut down”. While this trip was part adventure seeking, part grieving, I also didn’t want to be defined by the virus. I wanted to choose my response so when my kids or their kids asked what I did, rather than say that I sat back and watched my personal and professional life implode, laying in the corner in the foetal position, that I chartered a different course. I followed a dream. I let my heart soar and, in the process, life took on a most wonderful hue.

Just what this new chapter looks like, dear Reader, I can’t tell you. I thought I’d spend more time thinking about my business pursuits and personal aspirations out here, but it turns out survival took precedence. Perhaps that’s a good thing. I have many ideas and plans, but I sense I’ll be landing in Australia a different man to the one that left. I plan on taking time to keep the space around me open, before filling it with commitments, obligations and deadlines and just see what unfolds.

There’s no rush. The universe will sort it out.

One of the things I like most about the open ocean is the endless horizon. It forces you to focus on where you are at that moment in time. It doesn’t matter if there’s a squall about to come into view, calm airs, a moon set or a sunrise. All that matters is what’s happening in that very moment. I’ve never been more present than I have these past 5 weeks and I hope to take that same “living in the moment” world view with me when I step on land. Life is lived in the present and that’s where happiness is found.

You may wonder whether I found what I was looking for. In short, I think I have, but I’ll hold judgement until I’ve had time to reflect, get some sleep and adjust to my new reality.

In Native American Cherokee, “Ahyoka” means “She brings happiness” and I can tell you that I arrive a very happy man indeed. She may have been out of her depth. Perhaps we both were. But she delivered. Well done my girl.

We all seek in our own way at different times in our life. Be it seeking meaning, love, happiness or truth. Starting the journey of discovery can be tough though. Once you’re underway you’d be amazed at how adaptable you are. How resilient. How creative. I hope my writings and my journey have helped show you that anyone is capable of living a life that’s extra-ordinary.

There’s an inner adventurer in us all. Embrace yours, dear Reader.

Explore, Dream, Discover.

With Love,

Rory

36 Responses

  1. Hi Rory, Welcome home and hearty congratulations on completing your fantastic voyage, what do we do now that there are no more reports to read every morning? Best wishes for whatever you decide to take on in the future, kind regards Sharyn & Alan Doran, (Sydney)

  2. Congratulations Rory! What an adventure!
    We have enjoyed coming along for the ride and will miss your daily blog.
    We wish you all the best for your future endeavours.

  3. The dynamic duo is super happy for you and Ahyoka! Welcome back on land… must be wobbly for you at first…

    Shave your hair and beard fast! You look like Tom Hanks in Cast Away… haha
    🙂

  4. Thanks so much for sharing the joys, the terrors, the delights and revelations of your sailing Rory.
    Rest up to ponder your new life🙏🏻😊
    Bea ( Barneys other walker)

  5. Have loved following your journey Rors! So very proud of you and your achievement! Was filling in my brother-in-law the other day of your journey, as he is to a avid sailor, and he has followed your blog too! I reminisced of the days when you and Brettski would go sailing on the weekends all those years ago, come back to our place all wind blown and filled with happiness! We sat and downloaded the day’s adventures! I feel very honoured to follow this journey and read your words. Congratulations you!
    Love Pip

  6. Hi Rory.

    I read with great interest and passion your blog. Congratulations for what you did and more importantly for having the courage to doing it…
    What I see in it is the reason why I love being at sea… Nothing goes as planned. Humility and resilience are what keep one moving and afloat.

    Enjoy the new you. All the best

    JC

    1. Welcome home! Thanks a ton for sharing your adventures, your thoughts …
      Will miss reading your blogs.
      All the best for your new life!!
      Love
      Meeta& Ashit

  7. Congratulations Rory. I’m a mate of Simon Vella’s – he put me onto your blog the day you started and I’ve quietly followed it daily. Having spent 2 years at sea myself many years ago (albeit not solo), I smiled, winced and lived through your experiences, often recalling my own emotions in similar situations. Thank you for sharing!

    As for stepping ashore, your words “I plan on taking time to keep the space around me open, before filling it with commitments” also resonated. I often reflect back on the notion that It’s very difficult and time consuming to simplify your life, and very easy and quick to complicate it… keep it simple for as long as you can!

    look forward to crossing paths at some point.

    Enjoy the buzz!

  8. Brother wish you all the best to the new chapter. Beautiful words to have explained an extraordinary experience. Thank for sharing.

  9. Rors,

    Well done, you made it! What an epic adventure to add to what is already a long list. Look forward to catching up in Sydney.

    All the best,
    Doug

  10. Congratulations Rory,
    A voyage well planned and executed. I followed the hourly transponder reports through to the anchorage last night. When the SOG read 00.00 I raised a glass to you and Ahyoka, finally in safe harbour.

    Now it remains for you to stay true to your own advice:

    “I plan on taking time to keep the space around me open, before filling it with commitments, obligations and deadlines and just see what unfolds. There’s no rush”

    Wise words that will serve you well.

    Old Goat out.

  11. Cogratulations, Rory – an absolutely fantastic achievement!
    Thanks for sharing your journey with us. We’ve been hanging on your every word and have loved reading your blog.
    We’re very proud of you and the way you’ve come through this awesome challenge.
    Love
    Athol & Liz
    xx

  12. Awesome, Rory! Such an achievement, I love the honesty about no solo prior to trip! I’ll bet you design and build a 10kg stainless gooseneck fitting, but so satisfying that your cheese grater worked out, that is proper Heath Robinson skills. Enjoy the rest, and dry, stable land.
    All the best, Tom

  13. Well done Rory – This great adventure & experience will indeed make you a different person but I’m a little surprised you have already realised this. Perhaps only time will confirm how much.
    Your gran would have been even more proud of you!

    Congratulations,
    Fergus

  14. Congratulations Rory, on a successful completion of your fantastic voyage. You did, indeed, stay the course. Your secret was well kept, as the concern factor for your well being would have been off the scale had you made it known to all who have followed your daily crafted posts from the outset that this was your first solo sailing adventure. There’s an old film starring John Mills and Anthony Quayle called Ice Cold in Alex. After many days of trials and tribulations in the desert the cast each confront an ice cold beer in Alexandria. Instead of gulping it down at first sight they sit and stare at it contemplating and reflecting on the days past. Ice Cold in Cairns. Well done again Rory, we will miss your brilliant daily posts.

    Much Love and admiration, Uncle Donald, Fay and Sam.

  15. Dear Rory,

    Followed your travels daily. Inspiring and hope to see you soon somewhere. For now rest, enjoy and embrace the unfolding….

    Ed van Someren
    Amsterdam

  16. Congratulations Rory – so impressed with how you’ve managed your adventure and reached your goal. We’ve particularly enjoyed sharing your daily reports and the insights from your experiences.
    Enjoy your return ashore with our very best wishes and look forward to seeing you soon on zoom…

    Gavin & Jacqui

  17. Welcome home, Rory.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us through your blog.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it and it made me think deeply.

    I hope to see you soon and speak sooner.

    Will

  18. My much earlier post seems to have been lost but …
    Cursum Perficio indeed … what am I to do every morning now that your epic voyage has been completed.
    Your blogs brought light and excitement to those of us living on land with the dark days of Covid-19.
    I am sure your experiences will give you a new inner strength for the rest of your life.
    Your mum and dad will be so proud of you and rightly so, as will the rest of the Hunter and Garden clans.
    Well done for living your dream … and sharing it with so many.
    As always … Watch the Wind.
    Uncle Nick

  19. Rory!! High fives, cheers, and a huge hug! Your high adventure has been—and will remain—an inspiration to me (and clearly so many others). The mental and physical strength, and the self-awareness, are all testaments to the person you’ve always had inside of you. Perhaps pre-journey they didn’t show in certain ways, but you’ve shown how clearly you have them when all else is washed away. As you integrate and employ them moving forward, if feels a very safe bet that they’ll bring you closer to your post-44 goals! 🙂

  20. Good work fella. I’ve followed your voyage avidly, then tonight (this morning actually) I sat and read it all again. It’s a tremendous story, and worthy of a good book. I particularly liked the sting in the tail, when you admitted you were a first-time solo skipper. You could’ve knocked me down with a feather. It immediately reminded me of the ending of Zulu when, after commanding the beleaguered infantry unit through the siege of Rourke’s Drift, Chard reveals to Bromhead that it was the first time he’d seen action. A very nice touch Rory, and thanks for not revealing your secret earlier in the game. My heart wouldn’t have stood it. Take care cuz, I’m very proud of you.

  21. Hello old friend, I wanted to wish you a heartfelt congratulations on this massive accomplishment. What an incredible journey it has been and I can’t even imagine the toll that it is taken on you both mentally and physically. You should be so very proud and I hope you are revelling in the comforts of being “home”. I hope you are enjoying good food, good drink, a comfortable bed, and a hot bath. I will miss your daily blogs and keeping up with all that you were going through. It has been entertaining, insightful, educational and worrisome at times. It is also been enlightening and I want to thank you for that. You have given me a lot to think about in my own life and how perhaps I have also gotten sideways. Best of luck to you in your recovery and what the future may bring for you. Thanks again,
    An old friend

  22. Great stuff Rory! Delighted it went so well. Enjoy the landfall, and let us know your new contact details so we can catch up in the future.

  23. Dear Rory

    Congratulations on achieving it. you have summed up very well. POWER OF NOW, is the answer to all our questions in LIFE.
    Lot to learn from new RORY, would look forward to catch up and talk , some time in our future lives.
    Good luck!!!

  24. Congratulations Rory
    You made it !
    Thank you for sharing your great experience with us
    Regards
    Bertrand

  25. Congratulations on your most awesome adventure! All the best for your new adventure on dry land- however that looks!
    Cheers,
    Jo

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Rory Hunter
Sailor

Bio

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.