Friday, 17 July 2009

Caledonian Canal

I’ve been so busy since my last blog, so sorry for not updating more often!!

The Ellen MacArthur Trust Skandia Round Britain voyage has now passed its most Northerly point and is heading South again! I’ve been giving talks to people about the Trust, my life and the importance of sustainable living at our key stopover ports along the way, who have all been so welcoming to Scarlet and her crew.

Scarlet Oyster is now nearing the end of the Caledonian Canal. This leg of the voyage has been slightly different because instead of a crew of young people who have sailed with us before, there have been two crews from Scottish Hospitals sailing with the Trust for the first time. At this time of year a hospital group from Scotland usually comes down to the IOW for our summer sailing trips, but this year as Scarlet was in the area, and after discussions with Clic Sargent Scotland we decided it would be great if they could join the boat nearer to home. The Caledonian Canal is a beautiful stretch of water, and pretty sheltered, which makes it the ideal spot for giving sailing a go for the first time. I remember making the hard decision to take this route during my sail Round Britain as the weather wasn’t looking promising and if I’d taken the longer route North in my little boat Iduna I probably would have had to stop altogether. It took me a week to sail down and I spent my Nineteenth birthday alone in Kentallen Bay eating Haggis, a dish the Scottish girls on board Scarlet recently cooked during their voyage too! The crew have had a great time negotiating all the lochs and taking in the amazing scenery in that area. Shadabs blog summed up her trip on her last night, writing ‘Its sad we are coming to a end and leaving tomorrow but has been a experience I will never forget. It was a great opportunity just to forget the world and all the stresses of cancer the long term side effects and just be in peace away from cars, streets and roads to be around trees, mountains and water, Shadab.’

Meanwhile on the IOW the summer trips are also over halfway, and over 70 young people from hospitals in Cambridge, Cornwall, Oxford, London, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Northern Ireland, Bristol and Cardiff have converged onto the Isle of Wight for four days of fun, sailing and waterfights!!

The Ellen MacArthur Trust Skandia Round Britain will continue until September 13th with seven stopovers left and my talks in Glasgow (on 27th July at The Institute of Engineering and Technology), Liverpool, Cardiff, Torquay and Cowes still to come, so continue to keep an eye out for us as we head down the West coast.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Trust leaves London, after a great stopover!

Well, leg 3 has now begun and Scarlet and her new crew of Dan, James, Jamie and Steffi are leaving London now on their way to Ipswich, but the Trust's time spent in the city was just fantastic. I've been lucky enough to sail up the Thames and under Tower Bridge several times in the past, but this time, with six young people who have all sailed with the Trust before on board, was really special. Thanks to all the people who came down to cheer their support, and went online to "Buy a Mile" that day, to boost our fundraising total. To arrive and moor up next to HMS Belfast with Dan, Michael, Jay, Emily and Maxine, and see their family and friends waving and waiting to greet them at the end of their journey (some with a tear in their eyes) was amazing and I hope they all enjoyed the experience as much as I did. The Trust was helped greatly by Chris Livett, Waterman to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II who boarded at Sheerness to make sure the journey up the Thames was as easy as possible and arranged the opening of Tower Bridge for us, so a big thanks to him.

The next day, after the young people had taken a flight on the London Eye, and spent their last night on the boat, their final trip was to UCLH to give a presentation to patients still in treatment, their families and the staff there about their voyage. Introduced by our Ambassador Dan Monk, all the crew spoke about their experiences and received a great reception from all listening. Afterwards they stayed to have a bit of lunch with the patients and I can't help but feel this is one of the most important and rewarding parts of the trip for the young crew. To be able to go back and communicate their message of recovery I think is invaluable, to both themselves and those still in treatment. It's a huge step forward.

That night, the Trust held a dinner on HMS Belfast for some of our most valued supporters who I spoke to at length about the work of the Trust, answering many questions to give those who may not have participated in a trip before a real insight into our work and a good evening was had by all at a superb venue.

I also gave two talks whilst in London, one in Greenwich and one at BT Centre and it was great to see familiar faces in the audience at both, as well as having Dan our Ambassador receive a huge round of applause after I mentioned him in the Q & A session at the end, explaining how he sailed with the Trust at 16 and now skippers on our Summer Trips - a true inspiration to all.

I wish the crew on Leg 3 a safe and fun passage up to Ipswich, and hope to see some of you at my next talk in Hull on Saturday 6 June.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A big, big thanks to everyone who came along to hear me talk in Brighton yesterday evening. I've been really overwhelmed by your kind comments and support and interest in the Ellen MacArthur Trust Skandia Round Britain trip - we're glad that you think it is as exciting as we do!

In the afternoon, the Scarlet Oyster crew came with me to visit the Musto store in Brighton with me - Musto have been fantastic and are kindly providing all the clothing for our Round Britain trip. At the store, we were interviewed by a schoolgirl called Carla who had won a competition in a local newspaper. One of Carla's questions was "Are you all friends onboard?" - we were all quite relieved that Joseph answered that with a resounding "Yes!".

The next stop for the Ellen MacArthur Trust Skandia Round Britain trip is Dover - weather permitting, Scarlet Oyster should be arriving in Dover Marina on Friday 10th June and I will be speaking at The Ark in Dover at 1430 on Saturday.

So for now, thanks Brighton ....and Dover here we come!


Thursday, 2 April 2009

The round Britain route we are about to sail with the Ellen MacArthur Trust has played a significant part in the story of my life. I remember vividly the exact moment I decided to sail my little Corribee 21 Iduna around our shoreline, and many moments remain crystal clear from that fantastic journey back in 1995. The round Britain trip taught me so much – about myself and my capabilities, about how small and tiny my boat was, about how incredible people can be and how kind they are. I was welcomed by all sorts of people during that journey, taken in, fed, watered and more often than not entertained!

It’s for this reason that the Ellen MacArthur Trust voyage is so close to my heart. For me in 1995 that voyage was the beginning of a dream, the first solo sail and the first real adventure. I remember the feeling I had vividly as I sailed down the River Humber from Hull to begin my journey. I felt like the future was ahead of me, and the past behind me on the dockside – and I was there in the middle just raring to go! I hope that each young person who participates in this journey feels a little, if not a lot of what I did.

They, however, have already shown far much more bravery than I ever did… I cannot wait to get started!