Silence at sea broken

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NOV. 21 — A seasoned British sailor says he’s fine and sailing off Western Australia, after losing communication with his shore team for 11 days.

Tony Bullimore and his crew aboard the 102-foot catamaran, Doha 2006, contacted their shore team by satellite phone Saturday about 420 miles off Albany, Australia, a press release says. Bullimore anticipated reaching Albany by Tuesday morning.

“The crew and boat are fine,” Bullimore, who is 67, says in the release. “We have simply been out of satellite range for our Mini M phone, which is working again now that we are approaching Western Australia. We have two other satellite phones on board but there seems to be a problem with the aerial connections, which we will try and get fixed in Albany before heading to Hobart.”

Bullimore set off from Doha, Qatar, for Hobart in Tasmania where he is expected to begin an attempt to beat the record set by Ellen MacArthur — 71 days — for sailing around the world, according to information on his team Web site. Bullimore plans to make the 27,000-mile solo circumnavigation in 70 days.

Once Bullimore arrives in Hobart, Doha 2006 will undergo a final refit before setting off for the record attempt, the release says. Bullimore plans to hold a press conference about his passage from Quatar in Albany on Tuesday.

— Jason Fell