One hundred and one days after departing from Sydney, Tasmanian tourism entrepreneur and Rotarian Rob Pennicott and co-skipper Mick Souter completed the circumnavigation of Australia when Polio 1 and Polio 2, the two yellow-hulled rigid inflatable dinghies, docked at Cockle Bay Marina in Sydney's Darling Harbour on Sunday, September 11.
Ed note: This is a follow-up to an article published in the July, 2011 makeup programs.
This epic journey of 20,000km is the first time the circumnavigation of Australia has been accomplished in outboard-powered dinghies.
Rotary's Global Polio Challenge is expected to be boosted by $250,000 to $300,000 from this amazing feat, once all pledges are received and fundraising is completed. To date, $200,000 has been banked. The funds raised will be a significant boost to the $16 million still to be raised to complete Rotary's $200 million Global Challenge in response to Bill Gates pledge of $350 million for polio eradication.
Landside arrangements were mostly organised by District 9830 Governor Peter Murfett and Muriel Heron from their computers and mobiles to ensure that Rob and his team had accommodation, fuel supplies and overnight berths in the ports visited.
"The hospitality and cooperation provided by the Rotary clubs in all ports was fantastic," said Peter. "It was a true national Rotary effort."
Rob Pennicott rated the circumnavigation of Australia to be his greatest adventure yet. He reckons Australia is a bit bigger than what you see on a map.
Rob was full of praise for his co-skipper Mick Souter (on Polio 2) and cameraman Zorro Gamarnik. This was Zorro's first boat trip outside Sydney Heads. The betting was that Zorro would last to Brisbane, but he completed the whole trip and, in the process, captured amazing footage of the Australian coastline (beaches and cliffs) and marine life (turtles, seals, dolphins, dugong and crocodiles).
Unsung heroes of the epic voyage were the two 5.4 metre Naiad rigid inflatable dinghies, Polio 1 and Polio 2. The dinghies really took a pounding crossing open stretches of water like the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Australian Bight. Crossing Bass Strait in both directions without a break for 12 or more hours is further testimony to the resilience of the boats and crew.
The circumnavigation of Australia is a great tribute to the seamanship of Rob Pennicott and co-skipper Mick Souter.