For the past year, Will Fantom and his sidekick ‘Mistchief’ have been sailing around Newcastle to learn the ins and outs of being on the water ahead of an incredible journey.
On Saturday 26 December, the pair will climb aboard their British-built Colvic Countess 37 Cutter Rig yacht to embark on a 10-year voyage around the world.
It’s all for a good cause, too, with Mr Fantom using the trip to raise awareness and money for sailing initiatives that support the lives of people of all abilities.
“Whilst here in Newcastle, I have been prepping to ultimately fulfil my dreams of a 10-year solo circumnavigation of every single continental coastline on the planet,” he says.
“We will start in Sydney on 26 December, and we will follow the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race down to Tasmania.
“I’m going to unofficially race them – I reckon I am in for a fair good chance, then we will loop around back up the east coast, around the rest of Australia over the next two years, stopping at various sailing clubs, visiting and saying hello.”
After sailing around Australia, Mr Fantom will then leave our waters to visit the rest of the world.
“It’s going to be a challenge and a half once Australia is over – that’s the easy part,” he says.
“But as long as I can see the Southern Cross and have a compass, I’ll be right.
“I’ve learnt the true exploratory nature of how they got across the planet with just a wing and a prayer and sheer determination.”
Mr Fantom also has plans to enter Mistchief in the Guinness Book of Records as the first dog to be documented sailing around the world.
For Mr Fantom, it’s not the first time he’s taken on a treacherous 10-year journey.
In 2003, after suffering a mental breakdown, he was diagnosed with agoraphobia, a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
Mr Fantom then bought some horses and travelled around the countryside to find himself while raising awareness for Riding for the Disabled – a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation that provides opportunities for anyone with a disability to enjoy horse riding.
“The relationship I had with the horses was amazing – the horses gave me security, direction and purpose,” he says.
“They became family – they weren’t beast and burden, I learnt more about myself and the things I had already known, they became more apparent because of the patience you have to have with a horse.
“After about 10 years travelling around the countryside, I eventually came into sailing.
“Once the horses had passed away, I prayed and put it out there and they just weren’t coming back, so I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do.
“Then I came across a YouTube video of a young couple who were sailing around the Solomon [Islands] to the non-tourist destinations helping out the locals with food, providing telecommunications and education material and I loved it.
“It was a maintainable lifestyle that appealed to that type of nature I had about being away from society and being independent of it all.”
So, after tragically losing his mother, Mr Fantom purchased Sailing Vessel Skeese with the money she left to him and will keep her in his mind as he journeys around the world.
He has a few people to thank for helping make his dream a reality.
“I am grateful for Watermakers Australia, ClientSat Communications, Brew Tales at Wickham, and the Foran Foundation for providing support over the years to get me this far,” he says.
“Thanks to their help, I am completely self-sufficient of land-based resources, providing I can catch a fish.”
Mr Fantom also needs to raise some money to help him buy food for the year, go to pozible.com/profile/will-fantom to donate.