How did you spend your May Day Bank Holiday? Did you lounge around the house in your PJs, trawl the aisles of the DIY stores or pig out at the local carvery? Most of us choose such habitual pursuits, but these were not the choice of ten more adventurous souls to be found at Fambridge Yacht Station this morning. These daring folks chose a sailing holiday with a difference.
Whilst family, friends and well-wishers shivered nearby in a cold south-easterly wind, two crews of the Premier Sailing’s “Sail for Macmillan 2017″challenge completed final safety checks of rigging and safety equipment. As onlookers braved the cold to wave them off, the two teams stepped aboard their vessels and bid us all farewell before casting off and heading off on a seven-week long trip of a lifetime. Over the coming weeks, this round-Britain voyage will see some crew members swapped each week, allowing more such intrepid individuals to take part in this trip of a lifetime, whilst raising invaluable funds for charity.
Colin and Jan Stracey of Premier Sailing organised this unusual fundraiser for the first time in 2016. Following their personal experience of the expertise of Macmillan Cancer Support, they wanted to give something back to the charity as a means of showing their appreciation. Last year, over a period of 7 weeks, 38 crew and 7 skippers successfully sailed anti-clockwise round the British coast, raising over £5000 for Macmillan. This year, encouraged by the interest of more potential crew and extra sponsors, they are aiming to raise even more essential funds for a cause so close to their hearts.
This circumnavigation will take the team around our spectacular coast, spotting amazing wildlife in the sea and air on the way and viewing our coast and historic ports just as our ancient ancestors may have done. This week, leg one will see the two yachts sail up the East coast from Fambridge to Newcastle. En route they will stop off to rest and savour the local delights of ports such as Shotley and Whitby. Some of the crew are experienced sailors, but others joining for one leg or more may never have sailed before and so will face new challenges and learn skills for life.
No previous sailing experience is required, as the fully qualified RYA instructors will skipper each part of the voyage. Crew members taking part will gain the opportunity to learn and develop a range of boat handling, navigational and watch keeping skills as well as sharing in the day-to-day jobs of cooking and keeping the boat clean. Over the coming weeks, this blog will follow their journey, with daily reports from the crew and skippers, sharing photographs and videos of their ever-changing surroundings.
Anyone with a sense of adventure, a desire to try something different or a wish to fund-raise in a pioneering fashion should talk to those who know all about nautical holidays and sail training, Premier Sailing. Colin and Jan will be happy to share more details and if you wish you may express an interest in taking part in 2018, without obligation. Who knows, next year it could be you!