On November 4th, I left Plymouth alone, sailing south on Rosalba.  She is a 60- foot monohull built in 2002 and extensively refitted and prepared for the voyage.

After a stormy first seven days including coping with a 49 knot gale and six metre seas I had to make a technical stop at Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Repairs are underway including replacing a destroyed key sail. This has been complicated by C19 caused transport delays, which have affected the Azores as elsewhere.

The good news is that today (5th Dec) the new J2 sail to replace the sail destroyed in the storm has arrived in Ponta Delgada. Thank you One Sails and Peter!  We hope the wind will be quiet enough on Saturday to fit it to the main forestay .The plan then is to make a test sail early next week, to make sure Rosalba is ready again for the ocean.
Less good is that by Wednesday next four weeks will have passed since Rosalba arrived here. The Vendee Globe race fleet has long gone south, with all the boats well into the southern hemisphere. What has been happening to some of the skippers and boats in the Vendee shows not only the risks but the importance in the case of absolute need of being able to look to others for support, a hallowed tradition of the sea. With a precious month lost and without having boats reasonably close by to me, going across the southern ocean would carry additional anxiety and risk.
So I have been thinking hard about what now makes sense.
Changed circumstances call for a new approach.
I will not now be sailing onto Cape Town and into the Indian Ocean. To do so would imply a passage across the southern ocean without others in proximity and late in the austral  summer season, approaching Cape Horn towards March. That would not be wise or reasonable. Also, the challenges of the past weeks have reminded me of the passing years. I shall be 66 in a month.
Instead next week, after the trial sail, Rosalba will head south again for some days, with a focus on establishing a good rhythm with the sea.
Stay posted.
Best to all you,
Background to my voyage

I have been fortunate to help build Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research (SMSR) to what it is today, as a trustee, and for six years, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. In 1983 David Tolkien, my late brother, was severely injured in a car accident and admitted as a patient to the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville. We had sailed together, including completing the 1982 Round Britain Race. David devoted the rest of his life to fundraising for the National Spinal Injuries Centre. He died in 2014.

I hope that my voyage will help draw attention to the work of, and research funded by, SMSR to promote the quality of life for spinal cord injured people. The charity is not involved in any way with the financing of this project.

You can follow my progress at: https://my.yb.tl/Rosalbavoyage

To view Rosalba in all her glory...visit  

To view all Richard's updates...visit Richard's Voyage | Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research (lifeafterparalysis.com)

If you would like to find out more about my challenge, please email [email protected]