InReach Plays Pivotal Role In Saving Novelists Life

When Tadd and I talk to people about our planned adventures sailing around the world, starting with crossing the Atlantic next spring, they are typically surprised that we’re so excited about the prospect of being out in the middle of the ocean, hundreds of miles from land. Of course there is a scary element to launching on any offshore voyage, but like anything in life, preparation is everything. And a big part of that prep is safety equipment, from lifelines running from bow to stern of the boat (so that we can be tethered to the boat at all times) to auto-inflating lifejackets on all people on deck, and from exposure suits (it’s damn chilly out there!) to a “ditch bag” all packed with emergency items, first aid, gps and food etc, to be grabbed at the last moment before abandoning ship (should the worst happen… remember, always step up into a life raft!). So last year Tadd invested in one more safety device, which until now has been used for fun rather than any emergency!

We have a Delorme inReach, which is what allows friends and family to check here on our site and see where we are. It’s a small but great device… so great this amazing piece of innovation was, of course, acquired by the giant, Garmin. But as fun as it has been, it will be a great comfort to us during our major journeys, and here’s precisely why:

michael-hurley “Less than halfway through his 3,400 ­mile solo trip to Ireland, novelist Michael Hurley’s sailboat began taking on water. What could have easily become a tragic tale was saved thanks to his inReach, which he had brought on the trip to stay in contact with family and post to social media. Michael used his DeLorme inReach to send out a distress text which the Coast Guard relayed to all vessels in the area, including Michael’s exact coordinates and bearing. Help arrived less than two hours after the signal was sent. Now Michael says he’ll make sure to bring his inReach with him whenever he plans to go off the grid.”  To read more…

Accepting The Fear

I think this is a well written article that describes the fear of electrical storms that I have.

There are some powerful statement that Emma’s father makes it here, and although I am not quite to the level of sailing zen he seems to embody, I believe I’ll get there eventually.

Accepting The Fear

The Charles W. Morgan Sails Again

The Charles W. Morgan Sails Again
Rachel Kashdan | June 10, 2014

One hundred and seventy-three years after it embarked on its maiden voyage, whaling vessel Charles W. Morgan, the oldest American commercial ship still afloat, is once again plying the coastlines of New England, this time ready to give locals a glimpse into what it was like to live onboard during whaling’s golden age.

In May 2014, the Charles W. Morgan set off from Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT, for the first time since she last pulled into that dock, back in November 1941, following an eighty-year long career on the high seas. From Mystic, she will spend her 38th voyage visiting New London, CT; Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard; New Bedford, MA (where she was constructed in 1841) and Boston, MA.

Along the way, the Morgan will bring along an entire dockside exhibition with live demonstrations, music and waterfront activities. Visitors will also have the chance to step aboard and tour the ship to learn about the Morgan’s storied past right from her deck—and storied it is.

The Charles W. Morgan, a wooden whaleship—today the only remaining of its kind—stretches 113 feet long and 27 feet wide. She was built fit to sail the globe—chasing whales through violent storms and even surviving an onboard fire, as well as close encounters with cannibals.

The Morgan became widely known as a lucky ship, not only because of the dangers through which she prevailed, but also because of how astoundingly profitable she was within whaling industry. Over the course of her 80-year career she earned nearly $1.4 million dollars, almost $20 million by today’s standards.

After she retired in 1921, Charles W. Morgan made a quick foray into the world of show business and was featured in the silent film Down to the Sea in Ships (1922) and in the British drama Java Head (1934), before Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green bought her. Green worked to restore her and then docked her as an exhibition at his estate in South Dartmouth, MA until his death in 1936.

For the next several years the Charles W. Morgan withstood both abandonment and the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, which struck the Long Island Sound area at a peak gust of 186 MPH and left 2,600 ships destroyed—but not the Morgan.

In 1941 the Mystic Seaport acquired the ship and transformed it into a floating historical exhibit. She was named a National Landmark in 1966 and has welcomed over 20 million visitors during her time in Mystic.

In 2008 the folks at Mystic Seaport realized the old girl was in dire need of a major facelift, and began a new phase of restoration to get the ship ocean-ready once again. Much of the five-year period of restoration that followed centered on renewing the ship’s hull, as well as work on its rigging and interior.

Captain Kip Files stepped up to the helm, making him the ship’s 22nd captain. Files owns and captains the 132-foot three-masted schooner and United States National Landmark Victory Chimes, and captains Elissa, a 207-foot barque owned by the Galveston Historical Foundation and Texas Seaport Museum.

What’s perhaps most special about the ship’s journey is that she’ll be returning home to New Bedford, MA, the same coastal town where she was born almost two centuries ago. Her stop in New Bedford is personal for local residents, many of whom are descendants of the ship’s original crewmembers. The City of New Bedford will be welcoming her with great fanfare over the course of a nine-day homecoming.

“The ties between the Morgan and New Bedford are profound,” said City of New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “We’re proud to host the Morgan, and even more proud to give residents and visitors an opportunity to celebrate New Bedford’s rich history as a thriving seaport.”

Festivities include a homecoming ceremony followed by an evening gala and the Buzzard’s Bay Swim on June 28; whaleboat races on June 29; a whaling history symposium from June 30-July 3; Fourth of July celebrations; the New Bedford Folk Festival on July 5 in New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park; and an official closing ceremony and bon voyage party on July 6. For more on the Morgan and her 38th voyage, visit Mystic Seaport.

Photo Credits: Mystic Seaport, New Bedford Whaling Historic National Park

The Hebrides Islands of Scotland – by Nigel Calder

In between the wind and the rain, Scotland’s Hebrides Islands offer some truly spectacular cruising. Pictured here is the magnificent Eilean Donan castle 

In between the wind and the rain, Scotland’s Hebrides Islands offer some truly spectacular cruising. Pictured here is the magnificent Eilean Donan castle

The warnings are ubiquitous. On the plaque in the Tobermory distillery that declares: “Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whiskey.” From the mouth of a local fisherman who told us: “This is a Presbyterian country. We need five days of rain to pay for a day of sunshine.” In the pages of a sailing magazine, where I read: “In Scotland there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

The foulness of the weather on Scotland’s west coast is legendary. At 56 to 58 degrees north latitude, the region is directly downwind of the Icelandic low pressure zone, the Northern Hemisphere’s principal weather maker. In August of 2013, at what was supposed to be the height of the summer, we had three gales in two weeks, a force 8, a 9 and a 10.

A rare sunny day in Plockton 

A rare sunny day in Plockton

In May of that same year we had rain pretty much every day, both outside and inside the boat. (The porthole and hatch rims all dripped with condensation, and mildew was an ever-present problem.) A succession of hailstorms left our decks covered in ice. We got lucky in June with two weeks of settled weather in which to explore the Outer Hebrides, but then paid for it with what the Met Office called “an unusually vigorous low.” In the first half of July, while the rest of the UK basked in a heat wave, we rarely saw the sun.

Terrie, my wife, and I now have the luxury of being free to cruise pretty much anywhere we choose and of having the perfect boat with which to do it. But there we were in Scotland, somewhat bemused by the fact we were planning to lay up our boat on the River Clyde for the winter so that we could return next year. The Scottish isles have sunk their teeth deep into us and so far refuse to let go. What is it that is drawing us back?

The answer is the incredible rugged natural beauty of the place. It’s the spectacular wild landscapes, with islands on every side and not a house to be seen. It’s the play of light and shadow on the towering cliffs and mountains as shafts of sunlight pierce the clouds and rain showers, sweeping across the countryside like a giant searchlight. It’s being in both sunlight and rain at the same time with a glorious double rainbow stretching across the horizon. It’s having the clouds and mist lift for a few minutes, an hour or two, and sometimes a day or more, to reveal majestic 3,000-foot peaks all around, dusted with snow in the early summer. It’s the fleeting and astonishingly beautiful sunsets on those evenings when the sun drops free of the clouds minutes before sinking over the horizon.

Look a little closer and you will also find a fascinating record of human habitation stretching back as much as 8,000 years, but abruptly terminated in the “clearances” of the 18th and 19th centuries, when the highlanders were forced off the land to make way for sheep. The prehistoric standing stones at Callinish are second only to Stonehenge. An impressive double-walled 2,000-year-old defensive “broch” on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides testifies to a long history of strife. The Vikings rampaged and settled here. The region is littered with ruined castles, the occasional one magnificently restored, and none more impressive than Eilean Donan.

The haunting beauty of St. Kilda 

The haunting beauty of St. Kilda

For thousands of years right up to the clearances, the common people lived in rock-walled hovels with heather-thatched roofs, a peat fire in the center and a hole in the roof to vent the smoke. The remains of these primitive dwellings, “black houses,” are everywhere. Then there is St. Kilda, 50 miles out in the inhospitable Atlantic, with no all-weather anchorage and a near perpetual swell, inhabited by a primitive peasant community until the 1930s, the Holy Grail of Hebrides cruising. We were lucky enough to get the spell of settled weather and flat seas necessary to visit, albeit at the cost of having to motor there and back. The low clouds lifted halfway up the mountains as we anchored, with the sun breaking through and lighting up the ruined village long enough to dash ashore and capture the magical scene before us. By the following morning a fog had closed us in.

Traditional Highland games are a serious business in this part of the world! 

Traditional Highland games are a serious business in this part of the world!

The sea life throughout the western isles is phenomenal. As the tide recedes clusters of seals wiggle their way onto the rocks. On a beach on Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides—another exposed anchorage that can only be contemplated in settled weather—we watched upwards of 40 young ones surfing onto the beach and then swimming back out to do it over and over again. Later that evening we were escorted by a school of dolphins up the channel into Castlebay on the island of Barra, where we went to find a sheltered anchorage for the night. On any passage of more than a few miles porpoises are likely to be seen. Giant basking sharks occasionally ripple the surface. We have drifted on a placid sea between the “Small Islands” of Eigg and Rum (there is nothing small about the deer-stalking mountains on Rum) while a pod of Minke whales fed on schools of mackerel around us. When the mackerel are running the fishing is extraordinary—we have cast a string of six hooks over the side and immediately pulled in six fish. In many anchorages there are mussels for the taking at every low tide.

The tides and tidal currents are impressive. Terrie mutinied when I proposed sailing through the Gulf of Corryvreckan. Unfortunately, she had done her homework and read about the 10-knot currents, whirlpools and 10- to 15-foot standing waves. This is nature at its most elemental. We have several times run through Kyle Rhea in the Sound of Sleat with 5-knot currents driving us forward. A set of tide and current tables and knowledge of how to use them is essential. Allowing for the 10- to 14-foot rise and fall is a critical aspect of anchoring, and there is no substitute for first-class ground tackle.

Secure anchorages abound in the Hebrides  

Secure anchorages abound in the Hebrides

Our principal anchor is a 73lb Rocna (or Manson) with an all-chain rode. Other than my misjudging where to drop it, we have only had to reset it a handful of times, such as when we picked up an abandoned lobster pot, and when I set it too aggressively in heavy kelp, ripping out a clump by the roots, which then prevented the anchor from digging in. We have found it to be a phenomenal anchor in everything from soft mud to rock (far better than the CQR, Delta, Bruce and Danforth-style anchors we have used in the past; I suspect the Spade and Ultra anchors have similar properties to the Rocna and Manson).

It is the plethora of all-weather anchorages scattered strategically throughout the region that makes cruising a practical reality. No matter where you are, other than at St. Kilda and on some stretches of the western shores of the Outer Hebrides, there is an anchorage within a few hours sail with sufficient protection to ride out the worst gale. However, negotiating the entries to many of these requires a fair bit of rock dodging (notably Loch Moidart, with its romantically ruined castle and great beach, and Arisaig). One will greatly benefit from good charts and a knowledge of how to use them.

We have been running Nobeltec electronic charts on the laptop and Navionics on the chart plotter (and iPad) and have found both to be remarkably accurate, even when grossly overzoomed. Beyond where the charts have run out of detail, we have crept into many anchorages with a bow lookout watching for rocks and only bumped once (attempting to pass between the slate islands of Seil and Easedale). We have recently been told the Antares charts ( provide highly accurate details for many popular anchorages.

Terrie does not like this rock dodging; it is the bird life that draws her. Circling the Isle of Mull we saw both white-tailed and golden eagles. In the Shiant Islands we drifted in the dinghy into a mat of razorbills and guillemots, watching the birds swim under us in the crystal clear water. Ashore were a quarter million nesting razorbills, guillemots and puffins. We thought it could not get any better than this until we went to Boreray off of St. Kilda, where we circled close inshore, gazing up at a million birds: including tens of thousands of magnificent gannets, perched on ledges on the face of massive vertical cliffs that disappeared into the mist and low clouds above us, with a constant cacophony and the ever present smell of guano adding a dimension that no photograph can capture. Even this could not top the thrill of being able to wander close to nesting puffins on the Treshnish Islands, with the birds clumsily flying on and off the cliff tops and hopping into their burrows, unconcerned at the human presence a few feet away.

A pair of puffins in the Trenish Islands 

A pair of puffins in the Trenish Islands

The only protection of any sort close to Boreray is the open roadstead at St. Kilda. The Shiants and Treshnish have exposed anchorages subject to ocean swells. But at least for the Shiants you can beat an overnight retreat to Scalpay and for the Treshnish to the South Harbour on Gometra, both just a few miles away. We found Scalpay to be testimony to the strength of Protestantism in these parts: the local store does not sell Sunday newspapers and the children are not allowed to use the playground on this day!

Between the Treshnish Islands and Mull lies Staffa. It is the epitome of the dramatic geology of the region, with hexagonal basalt columns topped by a thick icing of lava and pierced by Fingal’s Cave (the inspiration for Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides” overture). The mountains of Mull and Skye have been thrown up by massive volcanic eruptions and carved by ice a mile thick. In contrast, there are the low islands such as Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides with miles of sandy beaches on the western shores and not a footprint or person to be seen. We have sailed in many parts of the world and have not seen landscapes to rival these.

The local seal population visits Nada at anchor in Lock Finsbay 

The local seal population visits Nada at anchor in Lock Finsbay

Finally, there are the people. Whatever happened to the legendary “dour” Scot? We have been greeted with helpful friendliness in the pubs and on the roads, where people have stopped to offer us rides and always seem interested in what we were doing. There is music in the bars, ceilidhs, or traditional Scottish dancing, in the village halls, highland games with bagpipe competitions and hammer throwing, and haggis and oatcakes. Life ashore, with the ongoing Gaelic revival and a strong sense of community, adds a delightful dimension to the cruising experience. And of course, there are the distilleries and whiskey tastings…

Even the weather has its good side. The corollary to the frequent low pressure systems and gales is that there is generally plenty of wind for sailing, and over the course of a week the wind is likely to box most points of the compass. So long as you are flexible as to your destination, and so long as you have the time to sit out the gales in some protected anchorage, it is generally possible to sail with a favorable wind to somewhere delightful. I typically do not make a firm decision on where to go on any given day until the night before or the morning in question. Sometimes we change destinations in mid stream. As a result, we have had numerous fast and exciting passages and have rarely had to beat to windward in anything particularly unpleasant. On the backside of our current gale, I expect a fast reach to our next port of call. For me, this has been some of the most enjoyable sailing we have ever done.

I have come to the conclusion that the fundamental keys to cruising in this part of the world are first, to give yourself sufficient time to be able to sit out the nasty stuff, and second, to avoid sailing to any kind of a schedule (so you are not driven to undertake unpleasant passages).

And so it is we find ourselves looking forward to another season in this often miserable climate. After that, it is definitely south to sunnier climes.

Photos by Nigel Calder


ABC’s of Navigation

Conrad Colman, now competing in the doublehanded Barcelona World Race, contributes in this report to explain the tools now being used in offshore racing…

Navigation at sea used to be dominated by the question ‘where are we’ and sailors from Polynesians in canoes to Columbus looked to the sun and the stars for help. But when navigating by star charts and sextant, one could only establish their position once or twice a day in ideal circumstances. In cloudy or inclement weather, the navigator was reduced to “naviguessing”!

Now, our location is given to us by highly accurate GPS several times per second, so the question has changed from ‘where are we’ to ‘where do we need to be in 6 hours or tomorrow in order to go fast’.

We judge time and distance all the time in our everyday lives using our sight and experience of how the world works. In running to catch the bus, we wouldn’t step out to cross the road in front of a speeding Ferrari. But if the next vehicle is a VW camper van with flowers on the sides and Bob Marley wafting from the windows, we know that we’d have time to get across.

At sea this is harder, because we can’t see over the horizon to see if the next weather system is a camper van or a sports car, and our ability to cross the road is defined by the wind direction and strength we have now. In order to catch the bus, in this case a favourable wind, we need help to know more about the coming weather system and also how to define our potential performance of the yacht.

The first part is taken care of by various models of weather forecasts that we download in a format called GRIBS, in which we can choose the zone we are interested in and the relevant time. Since racing yachts very in speed for a given wind strength and point of sail, our computer then has an algorithm in the routing software that looks at the wind we have now and tells us that we can, for example, go 10 knots upwind, 15 knots reaching or 12 knots downwind.

So if you put those two elements together – weather conditions and boat performance – in the routing we can have a pretty good idea of where we can be in any future time given the forecasted wind.

Because the boat goes faster on certain points of sail than others, going from A to B is not as simple as a straight line. For example, when there is a light air bubble of high pressure ahead, it could be faster to sail extra distance around it then to sail the shortest distance through it.

Modern navigation tools provides answers the sextent and paper charts could only dream of.

– See more at:

Cruiser live-aboard for sale Chesapeake

Hello faithful reader, this particular boat and its owners are an integral part to our sailing stories. We met Rupert and Dory back in 2009 as we were sailing down the east coast of the USA in S/V Third Aye. Good times.

This is a fantastic boat and I’ll tell you why. There are two reasons I recommend buying this boat; the structural safety of a ferro-cement hull and my full confidence in the craftmanship of it’s rebuilder, Rupert. This is a true cruiser’s kind of boat, and a well-cared-for one at that.


Cruiser live-aboard for sale


Sandpiper, British-flagged yacht, one of the last ocean-going boats to be built in Baltimore, MD, by NASA engineer John Laudadio. She is a customised copy of Ocean Racer Finisterre and has taken us through the Carolinas, Florida, Bahamas, Cuba and the Caribbean.

35 ft(38 ft overall) Keel-Centreboard rock-solid Cruising Ketch. Perfect for Bahamas and other shoal-draft areas, but with a world-cruising capabilities, this pedigree Ferro Cement classic has been immaculately restored and refitted.

She is very much a hands on traditional sailing boat with hank on sails and a classic manual bronze gipsy windlass and barlow winches. Fast, comfortable, beautiful and unique. Built over-strong by NASA engineer John Laudadio, this is one of the last five boats produced in Baltimore in the 1970s and as such is allowed to parade in the Baltimore yearly historic regatta.

An all-round Chesapeake classic – traditional Skipjack above deck, on a racer-cruiser hull (Finisterre: Teak lined with huge headroom. Radar, Wind, Solar, SSB, Garmin Plotter, Refrigeration etc etc. All fully functional and newly overhauled.

Recent installation of long-range Yanmar 35hp engine on custom-built steel engine-bed, with only 1500 hours and a new transmission, this boat was known and loved for 30 years all around North Chesapeake.

We have upgraded the systems for blue-water cruising (including re-wire, hot water etc.) over eight loving years.

She was kept in fresh water and launched and raced/cruised seasonally until two years ago. We have found her to be ideally suited as a cruiser live-aboard vessel, with her roomy and airy living quarters and a 4ft shoal draft with a drop keep centre-board which makes total draft 8ft 9” when down.

Many photos and cruising blog at and on facebook atVoyages of the ketch SandpiperThis is a communal website for all those who know or are associated with the Yacht Sandpiper, her crew, her history, and her itinerant ports of call. Any and all questions welcome, as we know every technical aspect of the boat in finest detail!


Full set of sails with 120% Genny, brand-new storm jib, spinaker and spare mizzen – all in very good shape with a couple of minor strengthening repairs made on the main clew by Irish sail lady in St Augustine.
Dinghy – Brand new Westmarine Zodiac inflatable with Mercury 7.5 outboard
Two fold-up Dahon bikes for shore side wanderings.
Water – galley hot water pumped from engine, manual salt water and fresh water rinsing taps in galley, hot water tap as above and fresh water tap in head. Three water bladders with capacity for 420 litres of water. Also extra water storage in four jerry cans carrying 100 litres in total

Living quarters – 
Check out our youtube video for a tour! 

Teak lined throughout, with Perko bronze portholes and insect screening. Ample storage under cushions in Saloon also in bilge and deck lockers.
V-berth, Saloon, Galley, Head and Navigation area. Boat has 5 berths in total (double in V-berth, two pullman berths in saloon and one storm berth in navigation area.) All cushions recently reupholstered in teal Sunbrella by a professional seamstress.
Force 10 stove in galley – two burner with grill and oven. 

Force 10 stainless steel barbecue on deck.
Adler barbour 12 v cold machine refrigeration, in built-in large capacity well-insulated ice chest.
Engine – 35hp 3HM35F Yanmar, approx 1500 hours, with new 80 amp alternator, and two fuel tanks holding 40 gallons fuel in total. Two jerry cans with 10 extra gallons on board.
Lots of spares come with this engine including hoses, filters and alternator.
Self steering – Navico/Raymarine WP5000 Wheel Pilot
Depth/Speed – NASA
GPS – Garmin 210 plotter
VHF Radio Uniden Seahawk
Handheld GPS/VHF Uniden Mystic
SSB radio ICOM 600 with AT150 Tuner
Radar: Autohelm ST50

On deck
Full set of sail covers, bimini and dodger in Pacific Blue Sunbrella.
Ground tackle –
45 lb CQR, 35lb Max, 25lb Danforth, 200ft of 3/8th chain and 300ft of rode on CQR, 20ft of chain and 200ft of rode on Danforth, solid Plath/Simpson Lawrence bronze Gypsy Windlass.
Brand new Air breeze wind generator and four Siemens solar panels giving 180 watts.
Parachute Drogue/Sea Anchor, and 600ft of spare rode.
Hull is sound – boat was hauled and repainted inside and out last year and there are no problems with structure of boat. Teak and mahogany cap rails have also been refixed and finished to ensure ongoing dependable protection of ferro cement below decks. Decks are resheathed and in very good condition – epoxy over ferro cement.

Price: $55,000 
Currently docked in Chesapeake USA

Abandoning the Rat Race

Around the world in 36 years: Couple who cast off rat race in 70s and embarked on a 100,000 mile odyssey finally drop anchor back in Blighty

But Bill Cooper and his wife Laurel actually did it – and, 36 years later, can say they have lived the dream.

Mr Cooper, 83, a former City broker who used to advise Harold Wilson, decided to cast off for good as he made his daily commute to work in 1974.

Bill and Laurel Cooper aboard their current and third boat Faraway, which they started building in 2005, now tied up at their final berth on the river Medway in Kent

Bill and Laurel Cooper aboard their current and third boat Faraway, which they started building in 2005, now tied up at their final berth on the river Medway in Kent

On the high seas: Bill and Laurel on the Phoenix in 1954 before they  decided to travel the world

On the high seas: Bill and Laurel on the Phoenix in 1954 before they decided to travel the world

He returned home from the railway station and asked Mrs Cooper to call his office and tell his colleagues he would not be coming in. Ever.

Over the next two years, they built a boat before selling their house, bidding farewell to family and friends, and setting sail for a life of adventure.

Now, after an odyssey spanning  more than three decades and 100,000 miles, berthing in 45 different countries, they have returned to drop anchor  back home.

Age and ill-health have brought their astonishing journey to an end, although they still plan to remain afloat – on the calmer waters of the River Medway in Rochester, Kent.

It is a well-deserved rest for a couple who have crossed seven seas, negotiated 22,000 miles of canals and rivers, and coped with storms bringing 25ft waves and 100mph winds.

Boat number one: The couple's first boat, called Fare Well, at sea in Spanish waters, in 1977

Boat number one: The couple’s first boat, called Fare Well, at sea in Spanish waters, in 1977

Boat number two: The couple's second vessel, 87ft barge Hosanna, in Moudros Bay, Greece, in 1993

Boat number two: The couple’s second vessel, 87ft barge Hosanna, in Moudros Bay, Greece, in 1993

Boat number three: The launching of the couple's third and current boat Faraway in 2007

Boat number three: The launching of the couple’s third and current boat Faraway in 2007

Mr Cooper, a former Royal Navy officer, became disillusioned with his high-flying career as a gilts broker and government adviser in London.

He recalled how, on the day he changed the course of his life,  he set off for work and was half- way to the station in Chatham, Kent, when ‘I said to myself, “I’m not going in today – I’m fed up with it” ’.

He added: ‘I said to Laurel, “I’m giving up, tell my partners I’m not coming in any more”.

‘I’d been working as an informal adviser to Harold Wilson and there came a point where I decided I couldn’t get on with it.

‘Swanning around the City with a top hat on is all very well, but you don’t get much pleasure from it and I wanted a bit more from life.’

With Mr Cooper in charge of the woodwork and his wife taking care of the painting, the couple built a boat together, and in 1976 sold their detached, six-bedroom house and gave the money to their  children Shelley, now 58, and  Benedick, 54.

Funded by a Navy pension and the proceeds of selling Mr Cooper’s partnership, they set sail on their 50ft steel ketch Fare Well and never looked back. The first ten years were spent sailing the Mediterranean and Caribbean, across the Atlantic and along the American Intracoastal Waterway from New York to Florida.

The happy couple on their wedding day in 1952
Working man: Bill in the 1960's while at his desk job as a bonds broker

The happy couple on their wedding day in 1952, left, and Bill in the 1960s when he worked as a London broker

The pair, who once kept a one-eyed cat called Nelson on board, even received a medal for crewing the only vessel to survive the devastating Hurricane Alberto north of Bermuda in 1982 without calling a lifeboat for help.

In 1986, they bought a new vessel, an 87ft former industrial barge which they named Hosanna. They then spent the next two decades cruising around canals in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and sailing the Aegean.

The couple, who have three grandchildren, returned numerous times over the years for Christmases and other family occasions.

In 2005, they took on their  third and final boat, the 40ft  Faraway, which will continue to be their home.

But on its maiden sea voyage to North Africa in 2007, Mr Cooper began suffering eye problems and was forced to stop in France.

Bill sailing in 1948
Bill and Laurel on board the Phoenix in 1954

Bill, pictured left in his Captain’s hat, and Laurel, pictured right, on the Phoenix in 1954, both love the ocean

The couple's Transat team enjoying the sunshine up on the deck of the Fare Well in 1981

The couple’s Transat team enjoying the sunshine up on the deck of the Fare Well in 1981

After several years of travelling back and forth to England for treatment for macular degeneration, he has now decided it’s time to moor up for good.

He said: ‘We’ve had a wonderful time but I’m afraid I have been overtaken by ill-health.

‘When I got to about 78, I thought, “This isn’t going to go on forever”, so we built a boat we could manage when old age really strikes. We call it the geriatric boat.

‘We will have to get used to the life here. I plan to write a book and decay gently.’

He added: ‘I really think we have had the best of it.

‘We’ve had modern materials to build the boats, but we did most of our sailing before health and safety really started up.

‘Now I’m not walking as well as I used to when I was young, so we’ve had to come back to England.

Laurel with shipmate Nelson the cat  boarding Fare Well in 1976
Laurel makes a turkey dinner in 1978

All aboard: Laurel with fellow shipmate Nelson the cat boarding the Fare Well in 1976, left, and Laurel making a turkey dinner at sea in the ship’s small kitchen in 1978

Laurel on deck during Hurricane Alberto, in 1982, which resulted in the pair receiving a medal for being the only vessel to survive the devastating without calling a lifeboat for help

Laurel on deck during Hurricane Alberto, in 1982, which resulted in the pair receiving a medal for being the only vessel to survive the devastating without calling a lifeboat for help

Laurel enjoys the trade winds in the tropics in 1981 aboard the Fare Well
Laurel leaving her mark on the old wall Horta, The Azores, 1983

Globe-trotters: Laurel enjoying the trade winds in the tropics aboard the Fare Well in 1981, left, and Laural again leaving her marks as she paints boat’s name on the old wall Horta in The Azores in 1983, right

‘And why would we spend a quarter of a million pounds on a house that isn’t built to our requirements? Everything on the boat fits us perfectly – even the galley is designed to be the perfect height for Laurel.’

Mrs Cooper, 82, said: ‘I’m like  a cat, I can be comfortable anywhere – it’s how I have survived all this time.

‘Bill’s a brilliant sailor. He was very much the captain and I was the mate – he would always steer and I dropped the anchor.

‘We have had an absolutely amazing life. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

‘I’m very happy looking back at all the wonderful places we’ve been, the people we’ve met and the adventures we’ve had.

‘We have been very lucky, but  we always knew that it wouldn’t last forever.’

Laurel and Bill stand infront of the 87ft barge Hosanna in Levkas, Greece, in 2005

Laurel and Bill stand infront of the 87ft barge Hosanna in Levkas, Greece, in 2005

The couple took this image of Mirina, in Limnos, during a visit in 1985

The couple took this image of Mirina, in Limnos, during a visit in 1985

The couple travelled down canals as well as the on the high seas and took this picture of Bachausen Lock Rhein Donau Kanal in 1995

The couple travelled down canals as well as the on the high seas and took this picture of Bachausen Lock Rhein Donau Kanal in 1995


After sailing 100,000 nautical miles in boats they made themselves, Bill and Laurel have travelled to varied and unusual locations around the globe, taking in sights that many of us can only dream of.

The countries they have visited include:

Gibraltar, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Crete, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Sicily, Sardinia, Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Canary Islands, Caribbean islands, Rhode Island, the US coast, Portugal, Cadiz, Morocco, Greek islands, Monaco, Azores, Lowestoft, Corsica, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Tunisia and Cambrai

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