January 21st 2009
70th birthday takes "Commitment"
Just imagine you have reached the fine age of seventy. Then, try to imagine what your preferred birthday present might be. Lots of flowers and a lovely dinner party with friends and family? Perhaps. Or, maybe you'd prefer something a little more out-there: an inter-Island trip aboard Magnetic Island's "Providence" sailing ship. Sounds great. But, if you are Marie de Monchaux of Arcadia, then, you are now enjoying your birthday present and you have put the party on ice - literally.
Marie is currently enjoying a birthday present she has given herself. It is a 25 day trip on board a 60 foot sailing ship, Commitment, about the same length as Providence, which departed a few days ago from Ushuaia at the southern tip of Patagonia aiming to cross the super stormy Drake Passage, all the way to the Antarctic Peninsular!
Yes, at seventy, Marie has succumbed to a lifelong ambition, to visit Antarctica.
"I'd always wanted to do it but it was well out of my budget. I may have to move into a tent when I return," laughs Marie
She's taking and old friend from Canberra, Kathryn Dyason, who always wished to go too and, from the reports coming back from the Commitment's skipper, Tony Mobray, our Marie and Kathryn are the only crew who haven't become, "bucket heads" (seasick).
According to Marie, who has only ever sailed, "a small amount - years ago", "Once the ship reaches the Antarctic Peninsular waters it is calmer and more protected."
The 800km Drake Passage takes about three days to cross with a total of eight on board. That's two crew and six passengers.
The Commitment is scheduled to visit Chilean, Hungarian and Argentinian Antarctic bases whilst at the frozen continent.
Magnetic Islanders are likely to have seen Marie dashing about Arcadia and Nelly Bay on her electric bike which has been part of her training program for the trip.
As for the riskiness of the adventure, Marie said, "The whole of life is a risk. Getting on a bike is a risk. This is an adventure. It would be more practical on a big ship but this is more exciting!"
Marie is also in as safe a pair of hands one might hope for. Skipper Tony Mowbray has sailed solo around the world and completed 15 Sydney to Hobart races including the disastrous 1998 race.
To follow the updates from the Commitment voyage (click here)
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