I started sailing dinghies when I was 6 years old with my father. When I was 13 years old my father purchased a Sailor 23’ “White Roma” lifting keel yacht, which was based at Whitby on a drying mooring. The majority of sailing was in the local area but we did several passages up the Humber River, as it was placed in dry storage over the winter in Wakefield.
When I was 16 years old this yacht was replaced with a new Macwester Whight 32’ ketch, “Huckleberry Friend”. We sailed this yacht from Littlehampton where it was built to South Ferriby on the Humber River. This was a locked entrance and we both gained experience in coping with the strong tidal currents of the Humber. “Huckleberry Friend” had twin keels and we maximised this in our cruises. We sailed to Wells and Brancaster on the East Anglia coast and made two fortnight long cruises to Holland crossing the North Sea to Imuijden, travelling up to Amsterdam and through to the Inland sea and up to the Friesen Islands. For the majority of these cruises there were just the two of us. The highest winds we experienced were Force 7.
I had a break from sailing whilst I went to medical school. When I joined the Royal Navy I managed one trip on their fleet of Nicholson 55’s when we went from Gosport across to Cherbourg, over to Alderney and back via Dartmouth in a Force 7-8.
I spent a year at sea with HMS Hecate, an ocean survey ship, as Ships Medical Officer completing a 3 month tour in the North Atlantic up to the Artic Circle and Northern Iceland and a second 4 month tour to the South Atlantic visiting the West Coast of Africa, Ascension Island, St Helena and eventually reaching Uruguay. We experienced several Force 9-10 storms during this period.
In 1987 my father purchased a Hallberg Rassey 9.4, “Ellos Star”, which he based at the Hamble. We sailed extensively in the Solent for a few years before he moved it down to Spain. Due to work commitments I was only able to sail once in the Mediterranean with him.
He returned to the Solent after a few years and berthed “Ellos Star” in Lymington and we continued to explore the Solent. After he had sold “Ellos Star” the two of us went on a sailing holiday to Croatia and sailed a Feeling 32 which I skippered. He purchased his final yacht in 2000, which was a LM 29 motor sailor that he had berthed in Christchurch. The vast majority of my sailing up to this point was just with my father. We rarely had any other crew with us and shared helming and navigation.
In 2000 I had sufficient time to commence studying for my Yachtmaster exam. I gained initially the Day Skipper shorebased course at night school followed by the Yachtmaster Offshore shorebased course the following year. I also gained my VHF short range licence.
In 2003 I gained my Day Skipper practical qualification with Devon Sailing on a Hallberg-Rassy 34 and a Hallberg-Rassy 36. In order to gain large boat experience my partner Shirley and I spent 2 weeks cruising from Barcelona to Gibraltar in a Hallberg-Rassy 49 with a Yachtmaster Ocean Instructor. As there were only the 3 of us on board we worked a two-watch system whilst at sea with the instructor doing one watch and myself and Shirley doing the other. This enabled us to gain experience and confidence in managing larger boats as I helmed the yacht into most of the anchorages and marina berths.
In 2005 we purchased our first yacht “Baboujai”– a Feeling 44 lift keel sloop. Shirley and I picked the yacht up in Les Sables-d’Olonne and sailed it two handed back to the UK via the north coast of Brittany and the Channel Islands to our home port of Lymington. That first season we completed two cross channel trips.
We sailed most weekends during the season exploring the Solent, each year we took two 2-3 week holidays exploring the Channel Islands and the North Coast of Brittany. We utilised the advantages of the lift keel to explore small ports usually not suitable for 44’ yachts. On average we sailed around 700 miles a year. In total over the 5 years we owned her we sailed about 3,500 miles, the majority of this has been completed with just the two of us.
I passed my RCA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore qualification in April 2007.
In 2011 we purchased “Lazy Jack” (LJ) a 19 metre aluminium Gerald Dystka designed Aerorig sloop previously owned by Gordon Brown who had completed a 5 year circumnavigation in her with just his wife for crew. We continued to cruise around the south coast, Channel islands and France moving to a berth at Portland for 2 years before sailing to Gibraltar in 2013 for me to take up a post with the local Health Service. We lived onboard LJ in Queensway Marina regularly cruising up the Costa coast.
I maintained and serviced all the systems and upgraded her ready for the commencement of our planned world voyage due to commence in May 2018 when I retired. Subsequently we had to alter our plans, so I returned to Cartagena with a friend and sailed LJ back to Gibraltar. I returned to part time work in Gibraltar taking the opportunity to sail LJ singlehanded for short voyages. I was in the UK for the Covid pandemic and it became clear our plan for a world cruise would have to be cancelled. I sailed LJ back to the UK with a friend in 2021 non stop, 1,200 miles in 7 days due to covid restrictions and put her up for sale. In 2023 she sold and I started to look for a suitable yacht to enter the GGR 2026.
“Annie Jo” a Biscay 36 sloop came up for sale in Falmouth. She had an unusual history – moulded in 2002 and hand built by a local joiner and finally finished when purchased by a local Rigger, Ben Carne in 2021. She had been coded for charter but due to pressure of work, Ben decided to sell her. She is the last built Biscay 36 and is like a new boat and has been strongly built and fitted out to a high standard.
Annie Jo is berthed in Plymouth and I am preparing her for a solo Plymouth Azores non stop singlehanded voyage next June. I have commissioned the yacht surveyor involved with her original build to oversee and advise on the changes required to bring Annie Jo up to GGR standard. I have a three year plan with a major refit this winter and a further refit during winter of 2025 when I will bring her into the sheds at Plymouth Yacht Haven.
I have completed around 2,500 sailing ocean miles and over 10,000 sea miles of coastal, cross channel and Med Sea sailing.
|Boat Name||Annie Jo|
|Boat Type||Biscay 36 Sloop|
|Builder||Robert Ives / Falmouth Boat Construction (UK)|
|LOA||35.92ft / 10.97m|
|LWL||27.23ft / 8.30m|
|Beam||10.75ft / 3.28m|
|Draft||5.75ft / 1.75m|
|Displacement||15680lbs / 7112kg|
|Sail Area||667sq. ft / 62sq. m|