Don McIntyre is a lifetime adventurer. He has inspired and supported adventurous souls around the world, and achieved some amazing adventures himself.
Many of his adventures have been directly related to life on the sea.
In this interview podcast, I try to find out about what drives Don to achieve things that others struggle to even imagine.
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LINDSAY: Today I’m interviewing Don McIntyre. Don’s a man with a passion for the sea and undeniable quest for adventure. Not only for himself but encouraging and supporting others to do extraordinary things by creating and, or nurturing big events.
Don was recognized by the Australian Geographic Society in 2012 with their highest accolade – a gold medal for a lifetime of adventure. In this interview I’m going to try and find out a bit about what makes Don the way he is. He seems from an outsider point of view to have boundless energy, major resources to draw upon and a huge drive to follow what he believes is important in life.
So thank you Don for agreeing to this interview and welcome.
DON: Yeah it’s really good to catch up hey! Long time no see so it’s good to be in cyberspace and talking.
LINDSAY: You’re an interesting guy who has achieved a lot in your life so far. I’d like to take you back to when you first started sailing and a life of adventure. We would also like you to rattle off in bullet point style, because there’s so much to cover, a timeline with a short explanation of the many projects you can remember that you’ve either initiated or played a major part in. My first question is, what were the first memories you had of sailing and adventure, and what were the titles or goals and reasoning behind each of the projects or your life that followed those early days?
DON: Sailing wise it was off the beach at Brighton Seacliff. Just a metropolitan beach in South Australia in Adelaide. It was all good fun, you know you get in a little Heron dinghy and you start sailing. It was fun going around the buoys, but I quickly realised if you put a tent onboard and put an esky in there full of food – because I was pretty young then, and a few other bits and pieces, you could actually go exploring. I used to take off for a week or something up the Lake Alexandrina, up the Murray and use that as my first cruising boat.
In my later teens I hooked up with a retired US naval commander who’d commanded submarines during the war and had a price on his head in Singapore – he was one of the last guys out of there. Absolute classic. Great stories. It was a thirty-seven foot traditional schooner with no winches, and it was just him and me. We used to take off across the gulf and the stories that he told me just fired the imagination a bit.
I’d also followed Robin Knox Johnston and Suhali in the Golden Globe race when I was thirteen believe it or not. I’d seen Chichester go through and I thought that was kind of a bit interesting. I heard about the Golden Globe race and just sort of filed that into the memory banks. So then sailing this keelboat for the first time I realized that had an opportunity as well to go wherever you want. On the way home from high school you know you’d look at the boats and think, “Woah. You can live in that like a caravan.”
My first boat that I started building when I was eighteen was a replica of Suhaili because she’d inspired me to realise that it was a safe boat. It was a concrete version. It was a ferro-cement boat. It ended up after a couple of years I sold it unfinished because the girlfriend took off and I decided the boat was too big, so I built myself a little twenty-nine foot – Duncanson 29. I finally set sail when I was about twenty-three. Set off for three years out through the Pacific. Had a girlfriend with me for the first year but that changed pretty rapidly so started my solo sailing career. Had a great time. Met up with some real characters.
One guy during that voyage was a guy called David Scott Cowper, quite an interesting character, now quite famous in England. He was doing a solo attempt around the world to beat Francis Chichester’s record and called into Apollo Bay when I was there. I helped him fix his boat up, and then flew over to New Zealand to help him re-rig the boat there as well.
That got my imagination going again, and one thing leading to another when I finished my three year cruise on the little boat, I’d helped David again on another expedition and the BOC Challenge came along. That was in 1982 and at the time I’d just started a business being the Aries wind vane agent for Australia, because I met the manufacture helping David Scott Cowper on his second circumnavigation to beat Chay Blyth’s record – a solo attempt around the world, which he did beat.
So I ended up in Sydney dealing with Philippe Jeantot and Bertie Reed, and Jean-Luc Van Den , you know all sorts of these guru sailors that were now in the middle of a solo circumnavigation – a race, called this BOC challenge. A very interesting thing happened. My hero at that stage was still Robin Knox Johnston and while I was at the race office there, I heard that Robin was not only going to arrive in Sydney in a few hours on the plane, but he was going to be in the race office. Then what happened I thought, “Woah, I’m sticking around town.” I hung around for an hour or so and sure enough I’m waiting in the race office and in through the door walks Sir Robin Knox Johnston, my hero from when I was a kid. It was just unbelievable. Anyway, I was hanging out like a bad smell and eventually he finished to talking to all the official people he had to and we got a bit closer and I sort of said, “G’day.” To my shock horror when we started talking all he wanted to do was talk about the cricket. He didn’t want to talk about Cape Horn or the southern ocean, and I didn’t follow cricket so I was a bit muffed and I thought, “Woah, this is an ordinary guy. “ So from that moment I thought, “Right, next thing for me was to enter the BOC Challenge.” That was a turning point. That was a real turning point because I’d been doing lots of other adventures along the way – little things here, there and everywhere but that was the first big move.
At the time I had virtually no money, so to cut a long story short in the end of this little session I tried to do the 1986 BOC Challenge. I had the boat half built but I ran out of money. I’d formed the Shorthanded Sailing Association in Australia to try and legitimise the sport and that was going really well, and I became quite good friends with Sir Robin. He was the patron. So I couldn’t do the ’86 race but I was the race chairman for Sydney for that event. As soon as that was over, through the Shorthanded Sailing Association that I’d organised, we ran the 1988 Bicentennial Around Australia yacht race, and when that was finished I got back into finishing my BOC boat and I actually competed and raced the 1990 BOC Challenge. That was a synopsis I went through. When I started keel boats I was about eighteen, and when I started the BOC Challenge I was thirty-five. That gets us to that point.
LINDSAY: After you did that, what happened next? You had a few major projects that came along and obviously you were starting to get into business?
DON: I’d started the marine side of the business very early on, from ’82 when I was involved with the first BOC, and I’d been running a marine equipment importing business. That started from me wanting equipment to use myself in the BOC and other people wanted to buy it. I started selling them and making a profit and it went from there. Even with the boat, people wanted to get hold of the design, which was my design with Jo Adams – but I’d paid for it so I owned the design, that I built a yacht mould and started and building boats. It was the second or third biggest yacht mould in Australia at the time. I was well and truly in the business and the business was doing the things I wanted to do. The BOC itself was an epic…I mean over the campaign it took nearly eight years to build the boat, then raise the money, we’d spent about $750,000. I was $350,000 in debt during the race paying about a $150 a day in interest. It was really crazy, but I came second in class and it was an incredible experience. This was before the internet, we still got plenty of press. That changed everything.
When I got out of that lot I was actually sitting in a helicopter with Dick Smith and Tim Macartney-Snape, about to fly under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’d got to know Dick, he was launching a new book about his round the world helicopter flight and as we’re approaching the bridge, I’m operating the cameras in the back of the helicopter and Dick said to me, “What are you doing next? What’s the next program?” I didn’t know what to say, I’d been thinking of going to Antarctica but I had absolutely no money. We were really broke because I hadn’t sold the BOC boat, and I said to him, “Oh I think I’ll go to Antarctica.” I stuck my foot in it quite literally.
I got together with three other guys and we took two hundred teddy bears down to Antarctica. That was in 1993. People paid to send the teddy bears, we took photos and stuff and we gave the money to the Children’s Hospital at Camperdown. That trip in ’93 was incredible. Finally got to Antarctica, saw Mawson’s Hut and I thought, “Woah. If Mawson was living there for the year, why couldn’t I?” So I came back and talked to Margie at the time, my wife then and said, “Hey do you want to go and live in Antarctica for a year?” Two years later that’s exactly what we did. We got a bigger boat, five tonne of equipment and we sailed down to Antarctica. Chucked everything on the beach there. Built the box – we had a box that was eight foot by twelve foot, chained to rocks because it’s the windiest place in Antarctica if not the world, and the yacht sailed back to Australia. Margie and I hung out there for a year, and that was another incredible experience. Quite special. Quite tough at times, but all pretty good fun.
Eventually they did get down to pick us up which was good. We were prepared to stay for two or three years if we had to, if they didn’t get through. They did get to us and we got out. That was the end of another era because during that year in Antarctica we had a huge following of people all over Australia and around the world. We were doing big school’s programs and all sorts of stuff. That was our year of 1995 living in a box in Antarctica. In fact, it ultimately to our great surprise lead to an amazing claim to fame. We are and were actually the first people ever to technically colonise Antarctica, and that’s an excepted title now. Everyone else that had been before had gone down for specific purposes, or had been government funded or in scientific programs, but we just went there for the hell of it to go live there. That was our big claim to fame at the time.
LINDSAY: That’s incredible. Quite a lot that you didn’t say there about the survival in those conditions as well. No doubt you’ve got stuff online that talks about that and people can search that. Is that correct?
DON: Yeah. We’ve got most of the stuff grouped on our website. If you just go to mcintyreadventure.com. It covers a few subjects but in there you can see a lot of the various articles I’ve written – when you go into Don McIntyre you’ll see them down there. On our various adventures over the last twenty-or-so years, twenty, thirty years, are all listed there. If you go to the section that’s called “Expedition Icebound – A Year In Antarctica,” You can actually get the entire log. They weren’t blogs in those days, it was a weekly log that we did, and you can read the whole story there. There’s also a book called Two Below Zero that you might be able to get hold of, and the documentary is actually on our YouTube channel. There’s an interesting documentary about the year in Antarctica on YouTube and that’s called Two Below Zero too, so you might want to check that out.
LINDSAY: I’m sure there’ll be a few people interested in that. That’s quite an adventure you went in for sure.
It’s getting close to the time that I first met you in Sydney around 2002. That’s when you shortlisted as Skipper for one of your McIntyre fifty-five foot yachts designed for the Together Alone Around The World Race. You really had me digging deep there when I first saw that and I had a few sleepless nights trying to work out whether this was for me. At the end of the day I really believed in my gut that I could do a good job in this race, so I pursued it. The opportunity was really inspiring. The project involved, from a race between one design yachts to an expedition with just one yacht. What was the original vision from your perspective and what constraints did you encounter that forced the original vision to change?
DON: It was an interesting lead up. We’d been running expeditions to Antarctica for virtually every summer from when we lived there for the year, we then left our hut there – Gadget Hut and so we put another guy in by himself for one year, a couple Jim and Yvonne Claypole in there for a year. That was going for quite a few years. A lot of people enjoyed the opportunity to take on those sorts of adventures in a controlled way with good people.
The next extension to that was that having done the BOC Challenge, I knew there was a lot of people wanting to sail around the world. We were already building boats. We’d been building quite a few. So I thought, “Well we should organise a round the world race.” because no one had done one out of Australia. That was the key to it and we knew we had the design to build the boats – we could use the same hull that I had and modify that. So we had a new version designed. We launched it as a paying crew race so we hoped to have at least five or six, fifty-four footers that had ten crew onboard – a skipper and a mate, and eight paying crew. Similar to the Clipper Race now. Then we had a two-handed and single-handed division that also in one design boats. It attracted a lot of interest and we were actually getting very good support. Then it was modelled around the Clipper Boat races and also the British Steel races which Chay Blyth had organised with paying crew. All started and finishing in the UK in England. We headlined and talked a lot about our own expedition yachts through to Sydney. That was the one that we were taking to Antarctica all the time. That was a marketing tool as well.
So everything was going well. We had about three and a half boats filled with crew, all paid up and stuff. We’d started building the boats and then two things happened; all the people that were looking at joining our race were also watching the British Steel Challenge and they were having some real issues with crews and skippers, and their boats and so on. It was sort of not giving negative press, but it wasn’t a good look. Secondly, we’d also got involved with a ship at that stage, we had our own thirty-six metre, six hundred tonne ship called, “Sir Hubert Wilkins” that was sponsored Dick Smith Electronics. We’d virtually our sold our boats through to Sydney, but the last trip to Antarctica with crew they got trapped in the ice. They punched five holes in the hull, the rudders were broken off, it was all a bit of a grim story. All the entrants were following all these little dramas and in the end the net result was that some of them started to pull out. Instead of having three and a half boats full, with five boats on the way to building and so on, we were down to two and a half boats full and the prospect of losing more crews.
I had to make a really tricky decision – if we carried on I had to invest about another million dollars and we stood the chance of losing a hell of a lot of money. The other option was to shut the race down and lose about a quarter of a million dollars. We’d been at it for few years at that stage and the risks were simply too high. So we decided the prudent thing to do was to cancel the race which is what we did. We lost about, as I say, about a quarter of a million bucks back in 2004 or whenever it was. A lot of the crews didn’t get a chance to go, but some were adamant that they really wanted to just sail around the world. We put one boat on, and filled it up with some that didn’t get to do the race, but they still had a hell of an adventure around the world via Cape Horn and all the rest of it. So that was unfortunate, but that’s life hey.
LINDSAY: Yeah, well you’ve got to have a plan and they don’t always turn out the way you expect, but at least you’ve achieved something great for a few people and it was interesting to follow that. I was a little bit disappointed myself that the opportunity didn’t come my way, but that’s fine.
I’m going to change tack now and just ask a question that I often ask of people that spend a lot of time at sea. Do you get seasick and how do you manage seasick crews?
DON: Yeah I used to get seasick a lot. When I started sailing I’d get seasick all the time. I was only with Morrie Bellam you know, that retired US sub commander, so it was him and me and he was about sixty-five then, which I thought was very old but now that I’m sixty-two that was very young. Nonetheless I was fit and healthy, so I couldn’t afford to get sick and just go to my bunk, you know I had to keep working and that was very good training. That always put me in good stead.
Basically as the years went by the more sailing you did, you were less and less crook. When I sailed in the BOC, when I sailed solo around the world I think I was sick on three occasions and two of those was when I was head down and arse up in the bilge or working on the engine, or something in rough conditions which were really horrible. You’re just not good. Now I’m virtually never seasick. Sometimes I’m a bit sensitive the first day or so, but I can’t even remember the last time I was seasick.
What I will say, over the last twenty-three summers virtually every summer I’m sailing down to Antarctica now managing expedition cruise ships, or sailing down, or whatever, and I’ve been involved with the Ocean Youth Club taking young kids out offshore for days at a time, I’ve seen a lot of people seasick. There is three simple issues there; there’s a biological issue, a physiological issue and a psychological issue, and they go like this. This is the best way to fight it or get over it. The first one is if you do not eat, if you were going to work for a day and you didn’t eat for the day, you may well feel sick because you haven’t eaten. Some people stop eating from fear of being seasick and that will actually trigger a feeling of sickness in your gut. Whatever happens, just keep eating. Don’t let the fact that you’re hungry and you’re not eating make you feel a bit off and then you think it’s seasickness and it triggers you.
The next one is if you ever get a really big fright or see something horrific like a really bad car accident or you’re doing some medical training and you see some photos of really sorry things, you can often feel sick from that. That comes from being frightened or fear, you know like or just a bit of shock. The way you get over that – that’s fear of the unknown quite simply. Fear of the unknown. So you need to get as much knowledge as you can. If you know that you’re in a strong boat, or you know what the weather forecast is and how the boat’s going to cope with it and you’ve got faith in your skipper and the rest of your crew, and you’ve sailed all sorts of things and you feel really comfortable in your environment going to see – so you know a lot of things rather than know nothing, that gets over the fear of the unknown. Therefore you won’t be too scared and the physiological factor is basically diminished. So ask questions, get comfortable with the situation, don’t be scared. Knowledge is everything. So that’s that one.
The last one is simply the biological issue of what your eye is seeing and what your brain is telling you because of the inner ear imbalance. The only thing that’s going to fix that is either acclimatisation – so you might be seasick for a few days and then you’ll get over it because your body’s got used to it and understands what’s happening, or you’ve got to take some sort of a seasick tablet or remedy. What I’ve found to be best in that, not for me, but for people that we give it to is one that you can’t get in Australia, you’ve got to bring it in yourself, and that’s Sturgeon. It’s a tablet that you take that’s used for Meniere’s disease for quite some time. It was the official number one motion sickness tablet in the British Navy. We have a huge success rate with that. About 70% of people we give it to, it knocks it straight away, and the good news is that the only symptom is that it makes you hungry, so that sort of helps.
The other one that I’ve seen people use a lot, it’s very expensive and it is now a lot better than it used to be, is the Scopolamine patches behind the ear, they seem to be reasonably effective as well. Most of the other stuff, forget it. Waste of time.
LINDSAY: Well that’s a great answer Don. Thank you very much for that. Very detailed.
I’ve always worked for wages and I’m aware at this late stage in life that I’ll never realise my hopes and dreams if I don’t educate myself about money and how it works for some and not others. You’re a businessman, this next question is probably quite personal. I’m going to ask you if you can give us some insight about your attitude to money, how to generate – or how you generate the funding to make great things happen in people’s lives, and how that affects you personally. Here’s the question, what insight would you give wage and salary workers with a strong desire for a perpetual adventurous lifestyle, and how could they fund that in today’s world.
DON: The answer’s really simple here. There’s a couple of issues. The first one is the best thing that you can do is just get into adventure. You don’t need money for the adventure, you just need to make the decision to go and do it. The definition of adventure is any activity with an unknown outcome. Once you do that, you know, doesn’t matter what it is – you can do a $500 adventure, you can do a $1000 adventure, you can do $20 adventure – just get into it and do it. When you do that a few things happen and it’s really quite remarkable. The first thing that happens is you become a much better communicator, because you’ve got something real to talk about. You’ll find you want to talk to people about it. When you become a better communicator, that’s going to put you in good stead for the rest of your life. The next one is that you gain a lot of confidence because you’ve done something that had an unknown outcome. Who knows what happened, but whatever happened it’s going to change you. You either succeeded or you…In fact you can’t fail, but something happened and you either…If you’re riding your bike and you keep falling off you’re going to learn and get back on it. You’re going to learn new things and eventually you’re going to get back up on the bike and you’ll start riding it. You’ve learnt that and you’ve achieved something really good. So you feel, “Woah. I can ride a bike.” With that confidence you can then go out and approach different things in another way.
You’ll also start to realise that you can do anything you like. The biggest, common thing that I get from people when I say I’m doing something, often they’ll say, “How can you do that? You’ve never done it before?” Now that’s like rocket science. Be real. I mean, of course you haven’t done it before and you’re going to learn it, and get into it, and do it.
When you’ve got into adventure you’ve become a better communicator, you’ve got a lot more confidence and the other thing surprise, surprise, because you fell off the bike a few times in the beginning, you had to make some critical value judgements. You had to decide, “Now I’m not balancing right. I was going too slow so I fell over. I got to go a bit faster.” And that’s all about risk assessment and value judgements. All of those aspects that you pick up from adventure are going to make you not only a better person, but they’re going to make you a real thinker and you’ll be able to see opportunity. You’ll be prepared to take risks in the financial world and in the business world. Unless you do that, you’re going to be a wage earner and a salary earner. That’s the trick.
Now there’s nothing wrong with being a wage earner and a salary earner. That’s the important thing. In fact, some of the most content people I’ve seen in my life, that’s exactly what they do. They enjoy their yearly holiday, they’ve got a great family, great relationships and they just really enjoy life. However, those that are currently salary earners and all those sort of thing, that are a bit disinterested or looking for something different – that’s the way you break the cycle. You’ve got to get into adventure and it’ll change the way you see the world.
The next thing that happens is there’s a few basic principles involved. The first one, and I see this a lot because I have a lot of people in their late 30’s that are joining our expeditions. They’re not late 30’s – they’re late 20’s and early 30’s and they’re really confused because they realise they’ve got nothing. They don’t have a house, they probably don’t have a car, they’re traveling around the world and they’re starting to think, “What the bloody hell am I going to do now? I’m already 32, 33 and I’ve got nothing. What am I doing?” You’ve got to remember a very simple thing, the prime time to earn money is between 30 and 45. If you’re not working your butt off to earn money and set yourself up during that period, you’re missing out on a opportunity because that’s where you’re going to earn your most money. If you’re clever, you’ll go out and play up until you’re about 28, 29, 30, then you’ll have to knuckle down. You should have some sort of a skill, or some sort of direction or something that you decide is the best way to make money and you go for it right up until you’re 45. You still try and enjoy life during that period, but when you get to 45 you should be ready to kick back and enjoy that later part in life.
I’ve used that philosophy since I was about 16. I’ve seen a few different things and it’s a long story but I’ve used those principles and that’s how I’ve done it. I’m not saying I’ve succeeded in life or anything like that. I keep spending way too much money that I don’t have. People say to me, “How do you do it?” in fact, I’ve got a book contract to write a book called, “What’s Next?” and it’s supposed to be about not only all the adventures that I’ve got, but how I funded the whole thing because I started with nothing. I’m basically too busy to write it at the moment but I will one day.
It comes down to believing in yourself, having those valued judgements, making sound decisions, and giving it everything you’ve got if you truly believe that’s what you want to do. If you’re passionate about something and you stick with it long enough, you will become much better at it than someone else. Therefore you become one of the leaders in that area, and you can usually find ways to make money from it. I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination I’ve got to tell you, but I’ve managed to spend a lot of money doing crazy things which have cost an absolute fortune. I always tend to keep moving forward. Whenever I’m spending money on something it’s an asset. Okay, you’re going to sell it second hand and lose money, but you don’t blow it. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t waste money on crazy things. I put it all into what I think are things that I want to do. You just keep moving forward.
It’s a bit hard to describe how I’ve achieved all these different things, but I’ve had sponsors, I’ve sold houses that I’ve had – and I haven’t had many, I’ve only had a couple of houses. They get sold along the way. You give up everything to do these things. You take a risk. The final thing I’d say is that when people see you out there doing something, they then probably want to come and help. They want to join you. They see something in it and they want to support you. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve had some really strong support at times on some of the major projects, but I’ve never had quite enough money on any project that I’ve ever done. You really have to struggle and it’s really hard, but that’s part of the enjoyment of it. Achieving it and having a go. Another pet saying I have is, “You can never give up because when you do it’s all over.” You just can’t give up. You’ve got to keep going and surprisingly when you do take that philosophy things keep happening. So just never give up.
LINDSAY: That’s a great answer. It sort of almost answers my next question which is one of the final questions that I’m going to ask you. I’m going to ask you to do something that’s sort of aimed at helping people that are around the age of 30 and they’ve been out living the adventurous life. Based on the hindsight that you’ve got and the knowledge that you’ve got, if you could start your life again retaining all the knowledge you’ve got now, to start your life again at the age 30 what advice could you give to young people to live an adventurous life, utilising the tools and opportunities that are available to us now. What would you do to maximise your enjoyment and accomplishments.
DON: Part of the reason I’m so passionate about adventure is that I’ve seen what happens to people when they get involved with adventure. The system is so corrupt in its ability to make the majority of people…No make some people good people or whatever. It’s a bit hard to describe. You know, you go to school and you’re taught certain things and then your whole life is directed towards making choices rather than making decisions. Your first choice would be what colour car are you going to get, what car are you going to have. Then the next choice would be when are you going to get married. The next choice is going to be what design house do you want. The next choice is going to be this, that and the other. A lot of people won’t make decisions on what they really want to do. They just wander through. The majority of people – that’s fine, but there’s some people there that are just stuck in a rut and they wonder, how did they end up in this space. What was wrong with that? Usually it’s because they take the easy way out. Most people don’t want to do the hard yards. They don’t want to make the hard decisions that are the important decisions.
I’ll never forget one thing, and this is funny, the headmaster at my high school at Daws Road when the last year I was there, at the last assembly, when the school’s signing off. He said, “Whenever you come to a decision, take the hard one. Don’t take the easy one. Take the hard one every time.” It’s funny hey. Sticks in your brain. That’s really good advice. Get into adventure and take the hard decisions. Don’t be scared of them. Believe in yourself and look for opportunities.
The next thing that happens is people have opportunities staring them in the face and they don’t even know what it is. They think they’ve got to go and do what everyone else is doing. Be prepared to take some risks. If you’re not taking risks, you’re not going to go anywhere. To be good at taking risks you’ve got to know and understand a valued judgement. It comes back to adventure again. When you’ve done a few adventures you will understand the difference between a good decision and a bad decision, and how to weigh up all the issues before you make those decisions. That’s what valued judgement is about. If you do it when you start when you’re a little kid, you’ll be able to manage your pocket money better.
Adventure is all about planning, preparation and execution. That process, when you’re doing an adventure becomes second nature and I use it today. For everything I do. It’s all planning, preparation, execution. If you do that with all the decisions and all the plans you’ve got, it’s a pretty full proof way to do it.
The other thing I see people – people never have long term plans. I call their long term plans my short term plans. I never, ever have been throughout my life without a five year plan. I’ll say, “Right, between now and the next five years I’m going to do this.” I start organising my next five year plan at year three of the previous five year plan. Some people never have a plan on anything. They don’t know what they’re doing. Keep working on those five year plans and shoot for the sky. If you don’t think big you’ll never do the things you really want to do. People are scared of it. I don’t know why.
A lot of people are happy with that, so don’t get me wrong. I’m relaying it specifically to your question. For those that are trying to achieve something better.
Lastly, it’s not all about money. Now I could probably be quite wealthy now if I really wanted to but I’d rather be wealthy in experience. Things are important sometimes for doing adventures, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m using an iPhone that’s about four years old that was given to me as a second-hand one from someone who had finished another contract. Why buy a new iPhone ever year. Yet at the same time I’ve had half a million dollar boats, and million dollar boats because that’s what I wanted to do, to do some of my adventures. But adventure doesn’t have to cost money.
Believe in yourself, get involved with adventure as early as you can, learn from your mistakes – which is really important, and keep moving forwards. Start dreaming. Have an imagination. If you haven’t got an imagination and can’t laugh, you’ve really got a problem. Everything starts from those two things. If you’re imagination is slow you’re never going to come up with dreams. If you can’t come up with dreams, where are you going to go? If you can’t laugh at things and laugh at yourself, life can be pretty boring at times, so that’s probably enough I reckon.
LINDSAY: Yeah that’s fantastic. Very good advice.
I was having a look through your web page a little earlier on. You’ve got a few things on the boiler there when I looked through it. There’s a few opportunities for a few people there that have got adventurous souls. I’m going to give you a chance to promote your latest projects. Tell us a little bit about what your hopes and dreams are for the next decade or so. Tell us the name of the website for a start.
DON: McIntyre Adventure – you can get to everything. It’s just mcintyreadventure.com. That links to most of the other things.
I’m involved with some really fun stuff. I flew an ultralight gyrocopter solo around the Australia. That was a world first and that was a lot of fun. Reenacted the mutiny on the bounty open boat journey in 2010, from Tonga to West Timor Kupang. It was four thousand miles basically in a row boat with virtually no food, water and no charts, no toilet paper and all the rest of it. That was epic. We all nearly died. I lost eighteen kilos. It was incredible. That was one of my most fun expeditions.
We got involved with treasure hunting here in Tonga for three or four years. Chasing Spanish gallons and that will go on for the next ten, fifteen years. We found some stuff which is kind of cool. That has lead us to now being given an island in Tonga which is owned by the crown Prince here and the royal family. He’s given us a license to occupy. It’s a beautiful uninhabited island and that’s my new home. We’ve sold up out of Australia now. There’s a flagpole on the island. That’s all that’s there at the moment. We’re building the Royal Nomuka Yacht Club there and we’ll be setting up the Vaka sailing and training the Tongan youth in that.
We’re also setting up a marine discovery centre here for research and junior university students for field experience and so-on. That’s just starting. We’re linking with the James Cook university and a whole pile of other things.
The big one is that through all of that, well in fact it started back in living in Antarctica in the box way back in ’95 in the middle of winter. I thought, “Woah, I really should finish that Suhaili replica from Robin Knox-Johnston who won the original Golden Globe race in 1968, and recreate the voyage for the 30th anniversary. It didn’t happen. I got involved with other adventures. Then at the 40th anniversary I very nearly bought a replica Suhaili in Adelaide to do the voyage again for the fortieth anniversary. It didn’t happen because other adventures got in the way. I think it was a bounty boat trip. So when we were over here treasure hunting in Tonga, I thought, “Holy dooley the 50th anniversary is coming up. I’ve got to do that voyage.” and I thought, well if I want to do it there’s probably a truck load of others as well. That’s where the idea came to form the Golden Globe race for 2018. It’s second addition of the race, fiftieth anniversary, all sailed in small simple boats – thirty-two to thirty-six feet long, six-thousand pound minimum displacement, fiberglass production boats, designed before 1988 with a full keel and an outboard rudder. When we launched this race, it’s just non-stop from England to England. Thirty-thousand miles over about nine months. We were swamped. The story went viral all over the world and we’ve now got a fully subscribed fleet. Twenty-seven entrants all paid up. Some of the biggest names in the sport, some of the nobody’s, two women. It’s going to be an epic adventure. It starts in Plymouth in the UK on June the 30th, 2018. It’s going to be big. That website you can link from mcintyreadventure. If you want to go direct, it’s simply goldengloberace.com. There’s going to be millions of people watching that. It’s going to be huge.
So yeah, lots going on. Watch this space.
LINDSAY: That’s certainly inspired me too to hear that. The timing is wrong but I understand that you’re going to make a four year cycle, so the race will be held again in another four years after the first one. Is that correct?
DON: Yeah that’s right. What happened was I set the race up thinking we might get another four or five entrants and that will be a lot of fun. I bought my boat – I had a Tradewinds 35 and I was in the race. It was all good. Then we launched it in April 2015, and by December 2015 I had to retire from the race because it had become a huge operation and I need to concentrate on the management of it. That’s my new adventure is to make a big success of the Golden Globe Race. The third edition will be in 2022, and we’re going to be making some big announcement about that in August of this year – the 2022 event. I will definitely be sailing in that one, and I’m already having the boat built now for that event in Turkey. There’s some news hot off the press that no one else has got. I’ll get to finally sail it in 2022 and I think I’ll be about 67 or something. The oldest guy we’ve got in the race for this current one is 72. A guy called Jean-Luc Van Den – great mate of mine from ’82 onwards.. We have a lot of laughs. So yeah, a great race. Good fun to watch and hopefully we’ll see you there Lindsay in 2022.
LINDSAY: Yeah well that’s certainly a goal to aim for. I’ve got a few things I got to put in place first to cover all my commitments and I’m working on those as we speak.
DON: Oh fantastic. Don’t give up.
LINDSAY: No I never have.
DON: Don’t give up. There’s always a reason not to do it.
LINDSAY: I’ve achieved a lot of what I set out to do. I have changed a few plans over time because of family and what-have-you, but I’ve always achieved a bit of what I’ve set out to do anyway. I haven’t peaked yet and who knows what the future is bringing.
DON: Plans are meant to change. I’m doing that all the time. I’ll have ten plans and I’ll settle on one, so that’s quite normal. I look forward to seeing you at the start Lindsay.
LINDSAY: Alright then. That’s a challenge.
I’d just like to thank you very much for giving me your time. I know you’re flat out and I really appreciate your time. I’m sure some of the listeners will as well. Thank you very much.
DON: Not a problem. One thing I forgot to mention – we’ve got a new operation called, “Whale Sail Tonga”, you can come and sail with us on a Lagoon 450 catamaran in Tonga and go whale swimming. That’s another website – just simply called whalesailtonga.com.
LINDSAY: Yeah I saw last season’s videos on that. That was absolutely phenomenal video footage that people were getting on that. Whales coming right up close and beautiful, crystal clear water. Not overly expensive either. I did a little search earlier on for the price of air tickets from Australia there, and looking at the individual fees for a six or seven day trip when the whales are at their busiest. Something I wouldn’t mind doing as well maybe one day.
Fantastic that you’re doing all these things and make life enjoyable for people. Thank you very much for the interview.
DON: Yeah good to chat. Thanks a lot mate and good luck there. We’ll keep in touch. Bye bye.
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