|KNYSNA NEWS - "I knew I could never be an '8-to-5' person with two kids and a picket fence," says Don Clements, an architectural technician who is one of those rare individuals who had a dream and actually turned it into a reality - all 60 000 nautical miles of it.|
Clements, who works for Knysna Municipality, hails from Port Elizabeth but has been living in Knysna permanently since 2007.
"I had this passion to build my own yacht and sail it around the world," he explains. "I travelled a lot before 1976, when I started building the yacht and decided this was the only way to do more travelling."
So in that year Clements began working on what was to become his 'darling Clementine'. Still keeping his day job, Clements used all his spare time and cash, building his dream from scratch.
"A lot of research had to be done and I had to learn a lot of new skills. Suddenly you find yourself having to be the boilermaker, carpenter, electrician, diesel mechanic and rigger - you name it, you have to know how to do it yourself!"
Determined and driven by his vision, Clements was ready at last to set sail in 1983, taking along his sailing partner, Jenny King. Circumnavigating the world along the Tropic of Capricorn, they sailed from South Africa across the Atlantic Ocean to South America and continued West around the globe.
"Our adventure took us to such far-flung places as Tahiti, Bora Bora, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga. We saw the Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos and we also crossed the Panama Canal," Clements remembers with a twinkle in the eye.
"Give me my youth back and I'll do it in a flash!"
Clements and King lived on thousands of tins of canned food and took odd jobs along the way.
"I will never forget the time we crashed into a humpback whale off the coast of New Caledonia. Amazingly, Clementine came out of the experience unscathed and, we hope, the whale with just a slight headache."
To make sure his epic journey would not be lost to his family and friends, Clements recently achieved another of his dreams - to become an author. He has written and self-published, The Adventures of Clementine, of which all 50 copies have already been sold. For those who missed out on getting a signed, original copy, the book is now available at the following libraries: Knysna Main Library, Hornlee Library, Leisure Isle Library and Rheenendal Library.
ARTICLE: ANOESCHKA VON MECK, KNYSNA-PLETT HERALD JOURNALIST