Sunday, January 29, 2006

How did i end up sat in a boat in Lanzarote...?

For the last two years I've been preparing for this trip. There have been hundreds of changes to the plan along the way, and the only thing that has remained constant, is that as soon as I'm certain something is going to happen, something happens to change it.

In 2004 I was in my first year at Portsmouth university, studying water sports science. I had never really planned on going to university, but towards the end of summer in 2003, I wasn't getting any work and inactivity was eating away at me. I had got my yachtmasters and cruising instructor qualifications that year, and was hoping for a job teaching people to sail or in yacht delivery, but a lack of experience was counting against me. I thought that if I could be close to the solent studying something water related then I would soon get the experience I needed. It worked in a way, as soon as I committed myself to the course the phone started ringing and I was having to turn down jobs that a couple of days ago I would have jumped at.

Anyways, I started looking for a boat, thinking that I could live on it, attend university and do it up for a trip around the world. After months of searching I went to visit my Grampa who lives just outside Amsterdam in Holland. While I was there I went to look at a Sweden Yacht 340 I'd seen advertised. To cut it short, I fell in love the moment I stepped foot on her, and three months later was sailing her back to England.

I had helped on a couple of deliveries with a company called PYDWW (professional yacht deliveries worldwide), and as the end of my first year at Portsmouth uni was coming to a halt, I got offered a delivery of a 'luxury' 30m sailing boat from Sicily to Auntibes in France. The boat was privately owned but was going to charter under YPI. It had an interesting history comparing it had only been launched 2 months before. They needed a first mate and I took the job. After allot of blood, sweat and tears refitting in Antibes, and against all the odds we picked up our first charter guests in Spain and went on to have a successfully season, although we did seem to have more than our fair share of problems.

As a new academic year approached I decided not to return to Portsmouth. I'd learnt more in a couple of months working on a boat than I had in a year at Uni. In November I left Awol Again and went back to England to prepare my boat and earn some more cash.

While this was going on my sister Alice had been in Thailand for the last year, and was constantly inviting me out to see her. With Alice away I had no close family in England, and with preparations for Christmas in full swing I was feeling very alone. I gave in to her requests and booked the flights to Koh Toa in Thailand, planning to return home in the beginning of the new year..... Koh Tao is an incredible place, and it has a magnetic influence. I learnt to dive and worked as a dive master for a while. Before i left i took my IDC and became a PADI OWSI diving instructor. 8 months later I returned home for the last time and finally set to work on my boat.

My aim for the boat was to be able to trust the integrity of the hull, (so at least she would remain afloat!) the integrity of the mast (so it wouldn't fall down!) and to be able to trust the electrics (so she wouldn't catch fire!) with all this accomplished I kitted her out and left for Falmouth, where I planned to leave from, to cross the Bay of Biscay. It wasn't till the 1st of September that I got down to Falmouth. The season was advancing and I didn't want to get caught out in Biscay. The deep water of the Atlantic hits the continental shelf of Europe in the middle of the bay, and in bad weather massive confused seas can make it a terrifying place to be.

On the 5th of August a weather window developed and my sister and I left Falmouth in a force five from the South East. I'd finally left. From there we sailed down to La Coruna, then on to Cascais, just outside Lisbon, (excellent aquarium and some very good surf!) then on to Marina Rubicon on Lanzarote, where we tied up on the 17th of October.

My Mum died when I was three and then 8 years ago my dad had a stroke and died as well. I was 14 and my sister had just turned 18. Amungst other things, as a result of this we lived together in a beautiful big house in the country outside Milton Keynes. The problem was that we're both never there. My Sister is an excellent diving instructor, which takes her all over the world, and I've got this boat. So we decided to rent it out for the time being. Once again I had to leave the boat were it was and fly home so we could move everything out and make the necessary preparations.

Things moved very slowly to start with. The tenants weren't moving in till February and Alice was, understandably, reluctant to move everything out before Christmas. I had met a family from Norway on the way to Lanzarote, Trond, Lesley and their children Colin 6 and Camilla 9. They were taking part in the ARC which left on the 20th of November. They needed a hand and I needed to get back out there, so I went with them and another friend of theirs from Norway, Jan Christophersen. We crossed in three weeks with a brief stop in the Cape Verdes. I couldn't have wished for a better 1st crossing or a nicer group of people to be with. If my crossing is anything like that one, I'll be very lucky.

On returning to England we had Christmas and new year, found a small house in Buckingham to live in, and moved everything. Moving is hell. On Tuesday the 24th I flew back to Lanzarote.

Which brings me neatly to Sunday night in Marina Rubicon, on board Magic Roundabout. It hasn't exactly gone to plan since I arrived here, but I can't face going into that yet.