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Yachtsman arrives after long voyage

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ND DOMINICK 1

Independent Newspapers

VICTORIOUS RETURN: Ralf Dominick on his yacht, Imvubu, in the Durban Harbour after an almost three-year sailing trip from South Africa through the North-west Passage and back. Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Durban - Johannesburg sailor Ralf Dominick popped open a bottle of vintage champagne as the yachtsman entered Durban Harbour on Wednesday, savouring the taste of victory over the elements after an epic, 75 000km voyage.

Having sailed through the North-west Passage, a sea route through the Arctic Ocean along the northern coast of North America that for centuries had been sought by explorers, Dominick, 53, returned home after more than two-and-a-half years at sea. The Royal Natal Yacht Club’s sailor of the year, who left South Africa in February 2010 on an adventure that saw him sailing past more than 52 countries, was welcomed by a cheering crowd which included his mother.

“He has been away for so long and seeing him today has been my most incredible experience,” said Christa Dominick. “As a mother, you worry about his well-being while he is at sea…You read about all the storms and typhoons and hope they don’t affect his journey. But I am happy that he is home safe.”

Describing his journey on his 53-foot (16m) monohull yacht, Imvubu, (Zulu for hippopotamus), Dominick said it had been “spectacular”, and he had no regret for making it.

He said he had always been fascinated by boats and wanted to sail from when he was a young boy. The motivation behind his latest adventure was the need to explore the world on his own terms.

His experience in US and Canadian waters was memorable, he said.

“Drifting in front of the Blackstone Glacier in Prince William Sound on a perfectly clear and still autumn day, the incredible fjords, mountains, scenery and hospitable people of Newfoundland and the Alaskan Inside Passage from Cape Spencer to Ketchikan is just spectacular,” Dominick said. “To have been able to witness these scenes for me is just completely humbling.”

Only about 150 people have sailed through the North-west Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The highlight of his journey, he said, was arriving in Nome, Alaska and realising that he had got through the passage unscathed.

Dominick had more than 50 books and 1 000 movies on board to while the time away. Nestled among his supplies was a bottle of 1990 Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Brut champagne a friend had given to him for his 50th birthday.

Dominick popped it open in celebration on Wednesday as he spoke of spending the next few months catching up with his family, friends and business before he embarks on another journey, through Antarctica, in November next year. - Daily News


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