Other than a few weekend sailing trips with friends and the move of Coralee from Lymington to Hayling Island, I had done no significant sailing since May 2016. The magnitude of my plan to quit work and sail around the world was starting to bear down on me – was I dreaming of a different life purely to change where I was, or was this something that I truly wanted to do? So with some trepidation of discovering that I was planning an audacious global single-handled circumnavigation purely because subconsciously I wanted a change in direction, I headed to Cornwall in May 2017 for a fortnight’s sailing with Turn to Starboard.
Turn to Starboard is a sailing charity that assists ex-servicemen and their families who have suffered due to the “unique demands placed on them by Service life” through the provision of sailing as a component of their wider rehabilitation. This broad remit allows for flexibility but the beneficiaries are predominantly those suffering from physical or mental issues caused by service life. The charity is small and personal, ensuring good value for money and it has demonstrated very good results with many of the beneficiaries having been found jobs in the marine sector or been able to return to ‘normal life’ with positive outcomes for them and their families.
Set up in 2013 by Sqd Ldr Shaun Pascoe (Retd), an RAF trauma nurse and erstwhile Officer Commanding the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) in Afghanistan, the charity now has three yachts that it can take beneficiaries out on. From a small Bavaria 32′, up to the Spirit of Falmouth, their 92′ Mersey Pilot Schooner, they can teach a wide variety of yachting skills and are an RYA accredited school.
I have been supporting the charity when I can for a few years and I enjoy spending time with them as a volunteer skipper. I have taken families and individuals sailing in the local Falmouth area and it’s always rewarding to hear how sailing is helping these men and women rebuild their lives.
The weather wasn’t particularly wonderful this year, with winds varying from 4 – 34 kts but sailing their ‘middle’ yacht, a well-built Swan 43′, allowed me to head to the Scillies in what was a cheeky F6 night passage. Getting back to sea in challenging conditions was just what I needed and although the passage was nauseating the achievement was wonderful, as was the Scillies’ weather which blessed us for two days.
I returned to Cornwall in June (after a month back in London) and this time it felt like a proper break. Working outside and living on the water is so cleansing for the soul. Being back in that environment reaffirmed my faith in pursuing this challenge of circling the globe. The magnitude of the endeavour hasn’t lessened at all but my commitment to it is strengthened. There is a lot still to do but those trade winds are beckoning me forwards.
John & Coralee