Eighteen months ago I was searching the internet for sailing around Britain challenges. I was getting very bored with day to day life and thinking that life's too short after the death of a friend and the loss of my business, I was also losing faith in human nature and wanted to see what else was out there!! I came across Nathan Whitworth, a man who sailed the east coast of England and produced a video diary and I could not stop watching it, this was the start of the dream, I was inspired.
I started to enquire and research information about the challenge of sailing around Britain single handed and realised that this was possible, even with my limited knowledge.
So, by mistake, I started telling people that I was going to sail around Britain and following an article in Practicle Boat Owner about my intentions, there was no turning back.
After the article in PBO, a gentleman called Phil (www.cowmansdream.com), called me and informed me that he was planning the same trip in April/May 2011. Over the next few months, Phil and I exchanged many phone calls and spent hours exchanging thoughts and feelings about the challenge. This proved priceless, as to share your thoughts with someone who was going through the same pre-challenge nerves was priceless.
I've always wanted to raise money for a charity and with suffering from Crohn's, I thought there was no better charity to raise money for. Then the phone calls started, trying to raise sponsorships and talking with the charity over the best ways to raise monies. Thank you to everyone who donated.
A close friend of mine, 'Dos' Christos, agreed to compile the website and once the website was up and running the interest started pouring in.
May 1st soon arrived and I found myself in Liverpool Lock saying 'bye' to friends and family, as the lock gates opened I thought to myself, "here goes" and as I passed the Liver Birds, I couldn't believe I had even got this far.. the rest is history.
The trip was everything I thought it would be and more. It scared the life out of me at times and there were moments I thought I wasn't going to survive the seas, but then there were times of absolute jubilation.
One of the most memorable things were the people I met, unbelievable generosity and help from strangers who would offer me meals, a shower and a bed, to a total stranger who they had never met before. Bags of shopping brought to the boat, lifts to shops, taken out for meals etc etc; the generosity goes on and on, thank you.
Towards the end of the Fourth month, I was ready for getting home as the weather had taken its toll on me and the stress and worry over the seas and weather was taking its effect. I contracted Shingles and my Crohn's was starting to play up and I just didn't feel brilliant.
I would like to say a massive thanks to the following people for their support and help as without their support this would not have been possible-
Solo sailors who I met on the way
Phil Ashwin (Hero and Sea wife) www.cowmansdream.com
Tom Webb (Legend) www.tomwebbsailing.co.uk
Ste (You know who you are)
My Family - Hardakers, Arnolds and Usherwoods
Lisa Stewart (constant support) and her family
Bonnie and Family
TK and Parky and Dos
All Facebook followers
Mike and Wendy off October (thanks for your words of wisdom)
Heather and Paul (Thanks for keeping me occupied)
Malcom and Kate (Thanks for so much to mention)
Andy and Mandy
Walter (the one my dad owes a pint too)
Paul and Sam off White Tiger
Sarah and Colin Brown
Alan from Liverpool Marina
Dods family from Arbroath
Peter and Emma
Yvonne and Ian from Kerrera
Doug and Tracy
Dave and Heather (Weatherman)
Simon Gez and the other guy (Sorry about damaging your boat in the Round The Island Race)
John from Hartlepool
Paul from Milford
Richard and Janice (Shikara)
Orwell Yacht Club (Fred and Sue)
RNLI (Especially Paul from Fishguard)
Ellen MacArthur (Loan of charts)
Robin Knox Johnston (Support)
Mad Jonny (Brighton)
Ben from Brighton Marina
RNLI Roderick (Girvan)
Grimsby people (not the ones who took Finley)
Yacht Haven Marinas
I've probably forgotten loads of people and apologies to those I've missed.