When the Namoi Valley Independent contacted Andrew Brazier on Friday about sailing the Pacific solo, he was literally “watching paint dry”.
Painting is just one of the many tasks the 27-year-old is racing to complete before he leaves Sydney in early March to embark on a 15,000 kilometre journey to Los Angeles in aid of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
The young doctor had just finished installing and sealing the windvane when NVI called and said there still plenty to be done, such as changing the gigging, installing radios and life jackets, and purchasing and packing provisions. His trip is “entirely self-funded”.
“There’s a list as long as your arm,” he said.
“I’m aching to leave - it’s a lot of work to get it ready. But I’ve got to be patient. A lot of the success of the trip is how well you prepare.”
Andrew is the grandson of the late Bob and Frankie Thomas of Gunnedah and the son of Georgina Brazier (nee Thomas) who was born and raised on the family farm.
“I used to come Gunnedah fairly regularly and my aunt still owns the farm,” Andrew said.
“I got my first sail boat when I was about 20; I’d done sail boating as a child.
“I taught myself to sail when I was in med school and I sort of got better and better.”
Andrew’s love of sailing stems back to his childhood.
“I’d always been absolutely enthralled by stories of solo stories, especially a fellow by the name of Joshua Slocum,” he said.
“He was a gentleman who sailed around the world for the first time alone in the 1800s.
“I was enthralled by that story. I remember reading it when I was about eight... and the opportunity came and I thought I better take it now.”
Fundraising for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has almost hit $10,000.
“My brother and I did a motorbike tour over the Northern Territory two or three years ago and we passed through some Indigenous communities and had a bit of interaction with some kids there and that’s when I realised there was a bit of a problem and I knew someone who was doing their PHD and that’s how I found out about the foundation,” he said.
“The point of the trip is that a lot of where I’m at in life - the hopes and dreams I have in life - have come from reading and 75 per cent of kids in remote Indigenous communities can’t read the minimum standard level by Year 5.
“It’s really about trying to give Indigenous kids a start in life by giving them literacy.”
Andrew currently lives in the Blue Mountains and just finished his residency at the Neapean Hospital. He did his first degree at the University of New England.
“I’m sort of at the point in my career where I could argue that I could take six months off to do [the trip],” he said.
“It was either now or when I’m retired, so I thought better to do it now while my body is still strong.”
Andrew’s 10-metre boat, “Perpetual Succour”, was purchased specifically for the trip and has been hitting the waves for about five months.
“I’ve done a number of runs up and down the coast now,” she said.
“The longest is Mooloolaba to Sydney about 100 miles off shore.”
That particular trip took about five or six days but his journey across the Pacific will take two to three months. He’s yet to decide when he will return and by what route.
“I’m going to be entirely stocked to do it without stopping and ideally I’d like to do it without stopping. But if I do need to, there will be places I can stop,” he said.
“There is some risk involved. Obviously, I’ll be taking long-range radio, satellite phone and Epirbs.”
His boat is currently docked in the Balmain marina and he is already blogging about his upcoming trip.
“I’m partly living on the boat so I can get used to it,” Andrew said.
The doctor comes from a big family and said his mother has been a great support.
“I’m the sailor in the family,” he said.
“I think it would have been great if I could have brought a sibling but everyone’s a bit busy at the moment.
“I think at first I was a bit blase about being alone but now I’m sort of realising, I will be alone for three months but I think I’ll cope with it well enough.”
While planning his venture, Andrew said a lot of people have approached him to say he has been an inspiration to them.
“I think the other part I didn’t quite appreciate is that by putting yourself out there to do something, it inspires people,” he said.
“It’s an interesting position to be in. I’m almost like an advocate for adventure.
“I think that if you’re inspired by the trip, please donate.”
To donate to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, visit https://give.everydayhero.com/au/solo-pacific-crossing