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.

Thursday 27 May 2010

Radio Wave FM

Just finished a recording for Radio Wave FM. Very excited to be getting the airtime and coverage.

Monday 24 May 2010

Marathon completed!

Yes,  our three children completed it!
They finished the hottest Edinburgh Marathon EVER in a little over 4 hours. All three are badly sunburnt, dehydrated, exhausted and all said it was by far the toughest thing any of them had ever done! Knowing how fit they all are and how hard they trained - and in Mike's case he's done the London Marathon already, that's saying something! Sadly hundreds failed to finish in the blistering heat with medics treating collapsed runners every hundred yards! The local weather forecast was totally worng! They started in thick fog but within minutes were in clear blue skies! A mighty effort!

Monday 17 May 2010

26 PSA tests ---- a long way to go... but it's a good start!

So far 26 confirmed tests have either been booked or attended! My Old School Ellesmere College in Shropshire are, I think, running with my story in the Old Boys magazine. That should get the message to thousands of potneital candidates.
I've added the link below to my Blog as It's such a good site for those who don't know what a PSA test is and want to know more. Please  have a look and let me know what you think.  www.prosdex.com/index_content.htm

Monday 10 May 2010

The five first PSA tests.

Already 5 people have promised to have their PSA checked. That's in the first 45 minutes!

This Blog and JustGiving website launched.

The time has come to launch the two sites, so at 4pm this afternoon I sent out emails to all my chums and family. Only a few people have seen the site under construction..... until now that is... so any feedback or comments would be very welcome.

Hotting Up.

10:45 Just come of the phone with Lucy Dormer. She's a freelance health journalist. The Daily Mail are apparently running my story in their health pages. She was not sure when, but potentially good publicity for the Charity and the Challenge. With just over 2 weeks to go, this is great news!   

Thursday 6 May 2010

Nearly there.... from a preparation perspective

Equinox is nearly there! A few final things to stow on board - mostly provisions. Her topsides shine as does her hull following another two day stint scrubbing and polishing her while up on her beeching legs. Her nether regions are pristine!

Some very good news. I had my three monthly PSA test last week and the results have just come back today. They're still less than 0.011, or to put it another way, unmeasurably low. This was my last test before setting off, so, my voyage begins with a clear anxiety-free head - well, from a medical standpoint anyway!

I'm swimming every day in a barely heated pool - just under 64F first thing in the morning, hopefully, building up some resiliance to the cold. I began this regime on April Fool's Day! One of my biggest fears is having to face the sea with just a mask and knife to cut away a net or lobster pot that's fouled the prop. Equinox has a rope cutter fitted to her prop shaft, but many of  my sailing chums have had to resort to a swim after their prop suddenly ground to a halt; even those with a cutter fitted; as they're by no means a guarantee. Going for a swim is OK'ish if you have a crew to help.... but when on your own; leaping over the side at night or in a rough sea; and maybe out of site of land, seems altogether too daunting to dwell on; so I'll just hope for the best...... and, of course, keep a good look out!

Had my photograph taken today at Specsavers in Farnham with the manager, Hugh Draper. There should be something about The Challenge in the local press next week. The PR release from Specsavers, who are one of my sponsors, is brilliant and great publicity for the Prostate Cancer Charity. Thanks Hugh for organising it, and for the donation of a £100 to the Charity.