Octogenarian is sailing solo for wildlife
HEADING off on a solo around the world small boat journey is for one octogenarian his way of bringing to the attention of the world the plight of indigenous wildlife.
Gold Coast former lawyer and 60-year sailing veteran Peter Steele is taking his message to many coastal destinations around Australia before he heads off around the world on what he expects to be a four-year journey crossing the oceans to the Pacific nations, America, across to Europe and beyond.
Peter's vessel is a sturdy 33-foot yacht called Teena-Marie. It will carry the fit 82-year-old, who is experienced in single-handed sailing, close to 55,000 nautical miles. Peter will be 86 by the time he finishes the journey. "With a positive approach, I believe I can do it," he said.
Peter confesses he is truly passionate about animals, but so much about people so the time he sails solo from port to port doesn't concern him.
That passion is a family affair. His daughter Kobe is the founder and president of the Orangutan Foundation International Australia while his London-based niece is working with rescuing persecuted Indian elephants.
The first stop on his journey is Yamba where Peter is spending a month talking to local groups about wildlife conservation and about the foundation he set up, the World Wildlife Sanctuaries.
"It's a wildlife not-for-profit," Peter said. "I have bought 411 acres to help conserve koalas. Koalas, especially on the east coast, will be extinct soon if something isn't done. I will be stopping at various places around Australia to create awareness and raise funds for koalas."
"The reason that koalas are dying off, like a lot of native wildlife, is we are destroying their natural habitats to make way for urban and rural development," Peter added. "That has isolated them in pockets and they are dying off in those pockets. Koalas have gone from 8 million down to about 40,000. We are losing them fast."
From Yamba Peter will head south to Coffs Harbour and then to Sydney on his 10-month Australian circumnavigation.
In each port he is looking for volunteers to help him spread his wildlife message.
To follow Peter's voyage and volunteer to help when he is in port, go to www.wws.io.