Monday, February 25, 2019

Facing the irresistible lure of the sea

The anniversary of the highlight of what might rate as an overly-adventurous life happens this Wednesday. Twenty years ago to the very day, I landed at St Helena Island at the end of the 8,000 miles swallowing-the-anchor voyage of my professional yachtsman's life.
Although, as the name states, it was to be the retirement, the finish of the adventure side of a life packed with quite an assortment of sea dramas.
For instance, I'd spent eight days in a liferaft after the yacht I was delivering from Rio sank not far from the Roaring Forties.
A young woman and I were tormented by increasing schools of tiger sharks that seemed determined to have us.
The weather was very worrying, and the only vessel we ever saw was the container ship that blessedly rescued us.

Trapped underwater

On another voyage, a yacht I sailed solo was knocked down in a storm. I was trapped underwater in the rigging.
When it surfaced eventually, I drifted in what was left of the hulk for thirty days till I reached safety.
And yet nothing matched the crooked, man-made nightmare, the complete altering of life, that followed my very relieved landing at that island where Napoleon saw out his days.
Before the crooks in uniform had their way, life looked wonderful. I had fallen in love with a young yachtswoman who joined me as soon as I arrived on my final shore. And astonishingly to classical music-mad me, the lady turned out to be a concert pianist.

We were ambushed

However, what was to follow would defy the most imaginative crime writing. As we visited friends, we were ambushed. I think I can say it was the most frightening drama of my life.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A real advantage of sailing the Roaring Forties

Poor old (obviously not old) round-the-world yachtie Jeanne Socrates (76) sails into her 139th day down in the notorious Roaring Forties and may well be suffering for want of news about Br-x-t.
How sad, but life down there does have its brightish side because very unusually, the lucky and
plucky gal keeps running into a succession of friendly light winds in that tempestuous part of the world.
Who says Nature doesn’t side with our species' (allegedly) gentler gender.
In her log on board the yacht, Nereida, yesterday, Jeanne recorded, ‘Wind fairly light, making boat speed of minus three knots.


'Back to slow progress as we get into yet another High system.’
Placid conditions like that are very unusual as I certainly found on my circumnavigation when Spirit of Pentax was knocked right over in huge seas very close to Jeanne’s current position.
For her, that historic path round Earth is rather gentler than the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric agency’s description of the Roaring Forties as 'one of the most treacherous sailing passages in the world.’
Even more blessed, lucky and plucky Jeanne, from Lymington, doesn’t have to endure day after day the almost endless news squalls of
     * Br-x-t,
    * nor grim news of the economy,
     * nor of departing industry in the face of us leaving Europe,
    * not splits in a squabbling Labour Party,
    * nor the saner news of our society with Vince Cable pointing out that the majority of Brits do want to remain part of Europe, which thanks to our, er, glorious leaders will be ignored.

That really bazaar news

Plus, of course, that really bazaar entry into the news of the seemingly unrepentant modern-day terrorist’s moll who wants to enjoy English life again.
Thanks to the long reach of the Beeb, of course Jeanne doesn’t have to miss out on the joy of our news. … Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Monday, February 18, 2019

So what if you've been a traitor? Well, it happens ...

A schoolgirl somehow passed unchallenged through immigration, passports and security at an international airport here - a girl who was obviously a schoolgirl, I want to emphasise - and who
looked decidedly Muslim at a time when recruiting by Islamic State was very much in the news.
I understand she had no parents, not an adult with her, and yet was able to pass through to journey off to join Islamic State terrorists.
Now nearly four years later, aged 19, and the mother apparently of two dead children but with a fresh baby, wants to return ‘home’.
Who was Islamic State fighting? You and me, and just about the world.

Despicable act

In the education of my upbringing, in school, in scouts, in National Service training for Vietnam, her performance would be considered the stuff of traitors.
The most despicable act a man could be guilty of, we learned, was to side with the country’s enemies….   Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at