Having returned to Falmouth from Hayling Island, where Coralee had her bottom re-CopperCoated, I was most definitely on the home straight in terms of setting off. With some work still outstanding, I was targeting early September as a departure window. At the time I was engaging with a few media outlets to try and get my story heard further afield and after speaking to Yachting Monthly a suggestion was made that there might be interest in putting “a Savage way to Sail” on at the Southampton Boat Show.
The opportunity to promote aSwtS, Turn to Starboard, and Blue Marine Foundation at the Boat Show was really exciting and, if it was to happen, I would certainly accept the slight delay in departure that it would cause. On top of this, having been so well supported by marine firms who exhibit at the Boat Show, there was definitely some interest in being able to get back around the stalls and offer some thanks in person.
After a week or so, the Boat Show confirmed my slot and I reviewed my departure date. With the talk to be given on Mon 17 Sep, I chose Thursday 20 September to slip the lines – weather dependent of course. August sped by and Coralee progressed well, as I split my time between her, organising the media, and Boat Show presentation.
With only weeks to go, things started to feel a little unreal and I honestly cannot remember too much detail about that time. I was bouncing Coralee between berths again and a few friends and family came down to see me – which was really touching given the distance many had to travel. Soon the Boat Show came and the CEO of turn to Starboard, Shaun Pascoe, and I headed up to Southampton from Falmouth the day preceding.
I always enjoy visiting the Boat Show but even so, I was amazed how quickly the day came and went. The presentation itself was to about 50 people – or rather about 150 people if you included all those in the vicinity who were at that time eating their lunch around the Main Stage’s outdoor seating area. Having spoken at a number of military briefings and events, as well as presenting at a number of professional seminars in London, I should be less nervous at speaking at such events but nerves aside, the talk was well received and I was paid back with some additional interest in the Social Media side of things soon afterwards.
My father, who was travelling to Falmouth from Suffolk, to be there for my departure on 20 September, was passing by Salisbury the day after the presentation, so after a respite in Wiltshire, I was picked up and driven back to Falmouth (and Coralee on 18 Aug). With the equinoctial gales barrelling in from the Atlantic, I was wisely counselled not to depart on 20 Sep and so I delayed until Fri, 21 Sep instead – what they say about departing on a Fri and whether that delay was in itself sufficient is another story.
The last two days in the UK were a bit hectic, with jobs having to be clearly prioritised between “Must”, “Should”, “Could”, and “Would like to do” (otherwise known as MoSCoW). Some jobs got done and others were put to one side. The food order, that seemed a sizeable quantity on paper did significantly fill the boat yet failed to convince me it would last 90 days if required – my planned standard food ration for all trips.
Fri 21 Sep came sooner than seemed normal and I was up early prepping the boat. After a few beers and rums the night before, my stomach felt a little bit like a lepidopterarium, or was that the nerves – it was hard to tell. So, into the back end of the previous day’s gale I was to head and hopefully get south of Brest before the next one came in. More on that to follow…
John & Coralee