Sailing legend docks at Burnett Heads, tested for COVID-19
IF YOU were at the Burnett Heads marina today, you would have thought royalty had sailed into town and many locals wouldn't disagree.
While the Queen of England made no appearance, an 81-year-old sailing legend who has single-handedly travelled around the world by boat on 11 separate occasions, did make an appearance.
In the midst of a global pandemic, Australian yachtsman Jon Sanders also battled some of the worst ocean conditions he's faced in the last 10 years, with winds exceeding 120km/hr.
Receiving a warm welcome from local spectators, Lorraine Keen and a group of friends turned up in the early hours of the morning to greet the sailor.
"A bunch of ladies and I from Burnett Heads meet every Thursday morning for coffee and I happened to notice our local hairdresser posted that Jon Sanders was coming in," Ms Keen said.
"I thought 'who is this guy' so I Googled him, looked at a few videos of him on YouTube and I just think he's such an amazing person."
Travelling more than 40,000km since the yachtsman left Fremantle last year, his vessel Perie Banou II, was damaged in ferocious storms, flooding the engine so severely that it was unable to generate backup power.
The experienced sailor was also forced to continue his journey with a bare mast and he replaced the anchor with a tyre to ensure the boat was facing into the wind and waves, preventing it from being caught in a drift.
Similar to how historical ships once sailed, Mr Sanders completed his voyage using just a paper chart and sextant for navigation.
"This gentleman has gone around the world 11 times solo and that's just incredible," Ms Keen said.
"And my goodness, he's 81-years-old - I'd like to think that I might be doing anything when I'm 81 and he's a warrior for plastics in the water which I'm quite passionate about myself.
"It's just amazing that this famous sailor has come out to our tiny little village of Burnett Heads and I hope everyone comes out to see him, give him a wave and congratulate him."
During his journey, the yachtsman from Western Australia has collected water samples which will be analysed by researchers at Curtin University in Perth and will determine the extent of plastic pollution across oceans in the Southern Hemisphere.
An estimated US $2.2 trillion is spent repairing environmental and social damage caused by plastic, each year.
COO of Sea the Future, an initiative which was created by the Minderoo Foundation, Nakul Saran said the 81-year-old sailor was an inspiration to many, encouraging the public to change the way they dispose of plastic.
"Jon's remarkable voyage and his important water sampling supports our objective to promote the responsible use of safe plastics to governments, regulators and consumers," Mr Saran said.
"Bundaberg has given him a warm welcome back to Australia, and we're all sending him on with warm wishes for smooth sailing on his journey back home to Perth where he will complete his circumnavigation."
After spending more than a month in isolation at sea since departing his last port of Tahiti, Mr Sanders will be tested for COVID-19 and will be required to stay on-board until the results are confirmed.
Set to take a well-deserved break while his yacht undergoes repairs, Mr Sanders will then continue south along the east coast of Australia.
For more information about the #NoPlasticWaste campaign or to follow his journey, visit noplasticwaste.org