I’ve spent no more than a handful of days in a sailing boat. I don’t know if I will get seasick. I forget my port from my starboard. And the toilet is a bucket with a toilet seat.
Yet from May 1st 2022, this will be my life for four months onboard a 28 foot (8.5m) long yacht named Speedwell as my partner Mark and I sail an estimated 2,000 miles (3,218km) around the coast of Great Britain.
Mark has been sailing for more than 20 years so is a dab hand at this floating thing but I’m coming at it new and green – and just a little bit nervous.
The aim is to coastal hop clockwise around the country, starting from the River Medway, which feeds into the Thames estuary at the southeast corner of the UK. Each night, we’ll moor in a marina or anchor in a sheltered spot, check the weather and plan the next day’s trip. If in a marina, I’ll likely get a shower and a flushing toilet.
Our progress will be completely dependent on the tides and wind, and the challenge is to sail as much as possible without motoring and to survive the four months on just one 90L tank of diesel.
Mark has done the maths – that works out as using the engine for a maximum of about 20 minutes a day. Not much when you have to motor into and out of marinas and you have a lot of electronic equipment (depth gauge, wind speed gauge, GPS tracking, lights etc) that need to be charged off the battery, which is charged from using the engine. (Although, we have got a wind generator and solar panels to help achieve this without relying on the engine.)
Beyond a lot of water, we hope to see seals, dolphins, otters and maybe even a puffin or two when we get around to the north of Scotland. And, crossing fingers, maybe even whales.
There is the promise of spectacular sunrises and stunning sunsets, quiet coves and bays where the water is clear and the sand is golden. And there will be the fine vista of the British coast – think the White Cliffs of Dover, the Jurassic Coast, the cliffs of Cornwall, the isles and inlets of Scotland.
And bucket-toilet aside, the lodgings are quite luxurious compared to the cramped tent and basic essentials I had on my walk down the length of New Zealand. Onboard I have a proper bed with a proper mattress and a proper pillow. There’s a kitchen with two hobs and a sink. There are lights, electricity, a Wi-Fi connection. I can stand up inside and not hit my head on the roof and there’s storage space for more than four pairs of underpants. This is glamping.
But this adventure won’t be all rose-tinted glasses. Mark tells me this won’t be physical like #WalkNZ was. It will be a mental game. Expect monotony, boredom, constant movement and possible motion sickness. There could be 2am starts to catch the tide and days sitting around twiddling thumbs waiting for wind. For much of it I will probably be wet and cold and we’ll be sailing if the wind’s right – even if it’s raining.
We’ll be continually on the lookout when sailing, having to navigate and dodge sandbanks, mud, rocks, lobster pots and other boats. Anything could go wrong and when things happen, they happen fast on a boat. There will be long days, big waves, days without a shower, and lots of bruises. We’ll be living in a confined space so Mark and I will have no respite from each other. And did I mention the bucket toilet?
So why are we doing this?
For Mark it’s a dream he’s been wanting to complete. It’s called him for years the way the Te Araroa Trail called to me.
For me, it’s about reconnecting with my true self, experiencing who I am inside – strength, resilience, confidence, overcoming challenges, pushing myself, removing expectations of who I think I should be, finding freedom, falling in love with myself.
When I walked the Te Araroa Trail, I did it to overcome my chronic self-doubt – to prove that self-doubt doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving something incredible. In the process of that walk, I learnt I didn’t have to walk the trail to prove I was enough, I walked it to learn I was enough already.
That walk however was overshadowed by an emotionally abusive relationship. And while I found strength to end it partway through that journey and then fell gloriously in love with Mark, the scars of the emotional abuse have run deep. It left me questioning my worth and my identity and filled me with a shame that means that only now I can start to talk about it.
This sailing adventure is part of the healing process, to show there is hope beyond a toxic relationship, that we are more than we think we are, that we are worth it.
It’s for this reason, we’ll be fundraising for SafeLives (https://safelives.org.uk/), a UK charity that works to end domestic abuse. Please donate to help others because no one should be affected by domestic abuse. Click here to donate https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/markandkatrina.
You’ll be able to follow the voyage in a number of ways:
- Blogging about my learnings on my website and LinkedIn (www.katrinamegget.com and https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrinamegget)
- Posting about day-to-day sailing life and posting pretty pictures on:
my public Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KatMegget/)
Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/katrinamegget) .
Please sign up to follow my blog and social media.
You’ll also be able to follow our progress online through GPS tracking https://share.garmin.com/sailgreatbritain.
Thanks for your support and remember you’re stronger, more capable than you think you are.