During the first day of June 2010 I set sail in 'Equinox' my 24ft 6' Cornish Crabber from Chichester Marina and headed West down the Solent on a once in a lifetime adventure. Three and a half months later I completed my challenge; having sailed solo around the entire UK; visiting the Scillies, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Hebrides; going with huge trepidation over the top via Cape Wrath - the 'big right turn', before the next 'big right turn' heading south, at John o'Groats. This blog is my diary, written most evenings as I took stock of the day's progress; often with a huge lump of Cheddar cheese in hand and a pint of Speckled Hen to keep it company. Sometimes I was almost in tears; tiredness and frustration having taken its toll. Other nights exhuberant after breathtakingly beautiful passages along our stunning coastline with favourable following winds. It describes the ups and downs; the tears and laughter; the extraordinary kindness shown by complete strangers who offered a tired sailor in their midst refuge, solace, warmth and company; their generosity often humbling. My hormones were, I'm sure, in a mess making me perhaps rather vulnerble; as just six months earlier I'd endured the surgical removal of a cancerous prostate gland; laprascopically - a six hour procedure that left me physically weaker than before. You can read the background to the illness and the reasons for the challenge - to raise awareness of this terribe disease; that could have so easily have killed me elsewhere on this blog.

I am indebted to many; and recorded their names elsewhere; but as I reflect on the voyage many months later, I have not fully sung the praise of Cornish Crabbers, the builders of my sturdy little yacht and Roger Dongray the yacht's brilliant designer who drew upon a hull shape that had developed over hundreds of years by men who worked and fished at sea and whose very life depended on their vessel's seaworthiness. It's long keel, sail configuration and weight distribution in seemingly monsterous seas; quite incredible for a yacht so small. A Crabber 24 is not the swiftest yacht to be had for her size, for sure. But what she lacks in that respect she makes up for by her abilty to take heavy weather and harsh conditions in her stride. Built solidly without compromise, Equinox delivered me safely home after a voyage of well over 2500 miles in some of the most hostile and dangerously tidal waters you can find anywhere in Europe. In Wales, for example, the RNLI were phoned by an experienced commercial fisherman watching Equinox from his harbourside office; reporting to them, that a yacht was struggling in heavy seas and a F7 a mile outside the harbour entrance. By the time the lifeboat had been launched, I was tucked up in Aberystwyth marina; a little bruised and battered it has to be said, but safe and sound; I never even saw the lifeboat!

I've recently set up the blog so that readers can cover numerous diary entries in one go. To access earlier diary entries just click on the link 'Older Posts' at the foot of each page. Only a few clicks are needed to get to the entries at the beginning of the voyage and my preparation beforehand.

I hope you enjoy reading it; and if you do, or have done, please be kind enough to leave me a message. For which, in anticipation, I thank you.
The voyage also raised over £10,000 for the Prostate Cancer Charity - not my main goal but those who donated on my 'Just Giving ' page made a huge contribution too; as I was notified by email of each donation as it was made; each raising my spirits immeasurably. My main goal was to encourage 2500 men to get PSA tested - one for each mile sailed; and I beleive that goal was achieved too. And finally, I would also like to thank the growing number of men who have, both during and after the voyage ended, taken a PSA test, as a result of the publicty the voyage attracted; been diagnosed with the disease and taken the time and trouble to email me.

Saturday 6 March 2010

More kit....more cost... but a growing sense of security!

Met up with Roger Upham yesterday on a gloriously sunny but cold afternoon, on Equinox and spent a happy 30 minutes working out where best to install the Navtex and Hifi systems. He is, while fitting these, happy to check all the instruments - Radio DSC, GPS connections and the Raymarine Wind, Depth and Speed display heads and sensors; while he has the boat's gizzards exposed. It makes total sense to have an expert uncover any potential weaknesses in them now rather than non-technical-me, deal with a failure at a critical moment later on!

A 2010 Reeds Nautical Almanac together with a coastal flare pack, to compliment my existing pack of rockets, flares and smoke canisters, was purchased. These together with an emergency aerial made quite a hole in my wallet! The Almanac, seems to get fatter ever year and carries a serious weight penalty; but it's a 'must have'!

Thursday 4 March 2010

A big thank you to Garmin who have kindly loaned me an eTrex Vista® HCx handheld GPS with Garmin MicroSD cards based charts for the entire UK and Ireland coastlines for the duration of the challenge. Knowing I have this facility independent of the main navigational system is a real confidence booster.
In passing, I've made a habit of always carrying a handheld GPS when going ashore having first entered Equinox's position as a waypoint. It makes finding her again, in a crowded anchorage, a whole lot easier and considerately (Seagulls are noisey engines) after dark – especially if I’ve had a good session ashore! Fog too, has caught me out two or three times in the last thirty years. As recently as last May, when I was returning alone back to Equinox, moored just outside Yarmouth harbour entrance, in the tender. The strong ebb tide took me well West of my intended destination; by quite a margin. An easy mistake to make, made worse by the engine drowning out all sound references too!

Monday 1 March 2010


Spent an hour last night with a GMTV presenter and cameraman being interviewed and filmed here at home promoting Prostate Cancer Awareness. Two clips of me on the GMTV news were shown, together with the Prostate Cancer's CEO, on this morning's program. Good publicity for the Prostate Cancer Charity but sadly no mention of the Challenge even though they filmed me preparing sailing kit and a close up of this Blog's front page. I'll endevour to get the film clip on this blog, if I can!