70 yr old Neil Smith circumnavigates Australia
Neil Smith circumnavigates Australia in his seventies, then sails quietly back into Smithton
Posted on 24.10.2016
The weathered old timbers of Wild Wind immediately suggest adventure. Tethered at the quiet Smithton wharf, the old fishing boat actually looks at rest after four years circumnavigating Australia.
Old beer barrels for carrying water sit on the deck near a hatch from which the wizened head of Neil Smith has just appeared.
“Come on down, kettle’s boiling,” he beckons from the top of ladder steps before disappearing again to clank about with his wood heater.
“It’s only people with common sense have a wood heater on a boat,” Neil says, throwing a little off-cut of local pine into the fire chamber.
“You burn a pound of gas you get a pound of moisture. Warm while it’s going but soon as it goes out, terrible damp.”
A few minutes with Neil and you know exactly who you’re dealing with. Practical, humble and with a ‘can and will do’ attitude that has taken him on the adventure of a lifetime, sailing right around Australia, solo.
Not a bad effort for man who had virtually no schooling (he remembers getting there a bit in grade two). On the way around, he batted a saltwater croc away from his dinghy with an oar and cured his own kidney-stone complaint that had been slated for surgery.
See also Seniors Outdoors
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