I’ve been aware of sailing for a long time. When I was a kid, probably around 12, I was obsessed with boats. It was one of my many passing obsessions.
At the time, I was a member of the local sea cadets in Medway (Kent, UK), so I learnt about knots, went out in rowing boats and marched around dressed up in a mini navy uniform.
My mum and stepdad lived on a boat for much of my teenage years (they still do!), and I found one of their boats in particular, Bibury, pretty magical. A former fleet tender to the navy, to me Bibury felt like Calypso, Jacques Cousteau’s boat.
I used to spend summer evenings in my stepdad’s canoe, paddling around the marina where Bibury was kept.
But the eye-opening moment for sailing came when I had my first job in London. One summer my office organised a trip down to Southampton. Where, we sailed across to the Isle of Wight and back. My team were on a beautiful Beneteau First 40.7.
As soon as I got back home, I booked a spot to crew on a boat for Cowes week later that summer. I spent one day racing on a Sigma 33 and another day on a big fifty foot Jeanneau. I remember trying to grind the winches on that Jeanneau – it’s put me off big boats forever.
For the next couple of years I spent two weeks crewing for a guy called Keith in the summer. He owned a boat down in Falmouth – a 39 foot Nicholson called Alleluya.
We cruised around the southwest, sailing to Fowey, Portland, the Isles of Scilly and the River Yealm. I had a great time, handlining for mackerel, which we ate fresh every night. Once I caught a huge (or so I thought) pollock, which I christened ‘Jackson’.
As the years passed, I got more into climbing and mountaineering, so sailing took a backseat. I think climbing offers a lot of the same that sailing does – it’s all about having an adventure in a cool place, in the middle of nature.
When I met Elena, three years ago, I knew she loved the ocean, but sailing wasn’t really on either of our radars. The idea of escaping from the traditional money and career based life was however on our minds, we just hadn’t made the link. As soon as we did, it was like a switch had been flipped, and all we did from that point was to plan our new life afloat and how to make it happen.
And now here we are, at the start of this exciting journey. I don’t really know what will happen. I don’t know how we’ll find it, or how successful we’ll be at it. But these big unknowns are more exciting than knowing exactly how every day of my life is going to be.