My interest in sailing started with childhood reading of stories about messing about in boats. Books like ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and ‘Swallows and Amazons’ captured my imagination but real sailing experience was limited to model yacht voyaging in tide pools. During my teens I sailed dinghies and later crewed on yachts in the Solent. In my thirties I took a sabbatical from work and managed to secure a passage across the Atlantic on a yacht delivery to the Caribbean by grossly exaggerating my sailing experience. Fortunately, the skipper didn’t question my yachting credentials too closely and with the help of a friend on the same voyage I managed to pick up enough on the first leg across Biscay to pass off as a competent crew member. The crossing to the Canaries and on to the British Virgin Islands via Antigua was memorable and eventful. From then on I was hooked.
Twenty years on I’m fortunate enough to work for understanding employers who have agreed to a request for three months’ leave. Originally, I wanted to work as a volunteer at the Olympic sailing events near Weymouth. However, three months’ leave from work seemed too good a chance not to take on another sailing challenge of my own. An advert for an opportunity to sail around Cape Horn on a sixty foot steel ketch caught my imagination for a while but after thinking about this and sailing in other far flung places I decided to stay closer to home and sail round one of the most interesting and varied coastlines in the world – the shores of Britain.
I still sail yachts from time to time but moving to a house next to a river, eight years ago, sparked an interest in sailing canoes which I’ve sailed from home, as well as along some of the more remote stretches of the UK’s coastline. As far as I know, no-one’s attempted a circumnavigation of Britain by sailing canoe and the idea of setting out from home appeals. So, the challenge I’ve set myself is to set sail from the end of the garden and to keep on turning left until I return, whilst also raising money for a charity.