5 things I’ve learnt about sailing

Beachy head and the Seven Sisters

It’s two weeks into the adventure of sailing around Great Britain and I’m adjusting to being on the water and living in a 28-foot space. 

I’m a newbie to this sailing game so it’s been a full-on introduction to the rigours of sailing. 

Here are five things I’ve learnt so far: 

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Why I’m fundraising to tackle domestic abuse

If there was one word to describe the realisation that I had been in an emotionally abusive relationship, that word would be shame.

It would quickly be followed by the word weakness.

How did I not realise I was in an emotionally abusive relationship? How weak was I to get into this sort of relationship and to stay so long? What does that say about me? What will other people think?

For several years, those two words have hung around me like a bad smell.

I no longer want to give them power, which is why I’m talking about it now and why, during our upcoming sail around Great Britain, my current (and amazing) partner Mark and I are fundraising for the UK charity SafeLives, which works to end domestic abuse. You can donate here.  

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Adventure alert: I’m going to sail around Great Britain

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.

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Learning to sail – the baptism-by-fire way

I can count on one hand the number of times I have been on a sailboat – and that’s with chopping two of my fingers off.

I know nothing about boats. I can’t remember port from starboard, stern from bow, gybe from tact (opps I mean tack).

I have no idea if I get seasick.

The toilet is a bucket with a toilet seat, the contents of which I have to chuck over the side of the boat.

There is currently nowhere to decently wash my hands and I don’t do dirty hands.

And dirty hands are part and parcel of sailing – disgusting, wet, dirty, muddy, mouldy ropes wherever you look. As well as large, copious amounts of gluggy bird poo. Yuck!

So, when my partner Mark, who has been sailing for 20 years, bought a new boat recently, I was suddenly introduced to a whole new and scary world.

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