My three big fears of sailing around Great Britain

Four months with my partner Mark on a small boat, sailing approximately 2,000 miles clockwise around the coast of Great Britain. 

Think wildlife, cute coves, spectacular sunrises and stunning sunsets, picture postcard views of the dramatic British coast, four months off work.

What’s there to worry about?

And this is where I take my rose-tinted glasses off.

I’ve sailed only a handful of times. I don’t know if I’ll get seasick. The toilet is a bucket with a toilet seat.

It could be cold, wet, monotonous, even boring.

And the voyage is totally dependent on the weather and tides – and we all know what British weather is like!

So, again, I ask – what’s there to worry about?

Well three things in particular. These are my biggest fears:

  1. Mark falling overboard and me having to sail the boat and rescue him

I’ve manned the tiller a few times but in the heat of the moment remembering how to turn the boat around, do a mayday call and figure out how to rescue him – possibly all in horrendous stormy conditions – scares the bejesus out of me.

What if he’s hurt or unconscious or I can’t see him because the waves are so huge or I can’t turn the boat around fast enough or or or….. you see where I’m coming from.

The answer, as Mark says, is to not fall overboard in the first place. We’ll be tied on when we’re moving around the deck and we don’t plan to be sailing in storms anyway.  And we will carry out practice drills, just in case.

2. Getting seasick or other types of sick

As those who know me know, I don’t do sick. I have a huge phobia of anything vomit/potty related. So, the thought of one of us getting sick on a cramped boat with only a bucket for a toilet, which we then have to carry through the cabin, past the galley and out onto the deck to chuck overboard fills me with dread. My skin crawls just writing about it.

I will be investing in hand sanitiser!

3. Tension between Mark and me

The boat has a total length of 28 feet or 8.5 metres and is made up of two rooms – the cabin and the toilet area – and then the deck. On a boat like this, there’s not really anywhere you can escape to if you need a moment to yourself.

I have a worry that such cramped quarters could create tense moments between Mark and me, that the sailing conditions will cause us to snap at each other. I worry that I won’t be a good enough sailor, that I’ll do something wrong, that I’ll let Mark down. And then what does that say about me. What does it say about the relationship?

But Mark and I are strong and a good couple – we survived five weeks of lockdown in a yellow motel room together with just a phone, a tv and a handful of books and games to entertain us. We said then, that if we could survive that we could survive anything. (Also, he is lovely).

What are fears anyway?

Fears are just our thoughts or our ego trying to keep us safe and in our comfort zone. Or as some like to say – False Evidence Appearing Real. They stop us from growing.  

We believe wrongly that our fears stop us from taking action but I know from my walk in New Zealand that we can take action, we can achieve our dreams in spite of our fears and in spite of feelings of self-doubt.

The truth is not the fear. The truth is that behind the fearful thoughts is an amazing human being, stronger and more capable than they realise with the awesome potential to achieve so much more than they can possibly imagine.

I could be scared of sharks, of drowning, of not enjoying the sailing. But actually I’m scared of things that deep down question who I am. Am I good enough? What’s my worth?

I’ve made these fears important because I’ve made them to mean something; I’m taking them seriously.

These fears could stop me from going sailing. But I plan to meet them head on.


For those who followed my walk 3,000km walk down the length of New Zealand, you’ll remember that was about overcoming my chronic self-doubt and raising money for mental health charities.

What you may not have known was that I happened to be dealing with an emotionally abusive relationship with my previous partner at the same time. A lot of that and its effect on my self-worth and self-esteem ties into my current fears.

It’s for this reason that Mark and I are fundraising for SafeLives, a UK charity working to end domestic abuse. We’re aiming to raise £2,000 during our sail.

Please say no to domestic abuse and help support the amazing work SafeLives does with a donation. You can donate here:

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