When the grossest injustice makes you poor – nearly broke – it’s amazing what you learn to give up and yet manage to enjoy the limited pleasures of life.
|My favourite yacht ... eM on her final swallowing-the-anchor voyage. I am sailing her alone, photographed not very far from the Canaries, in the Atlantic, by my fiancee of the time. The gorgeous Farr 38 was snatched and confiscated by a crooked prosecution.|
Why not become a professional yachtsman, I thought, and work on the sea.
After all, going to sea, particularly sailing across oceans, certainly feels right, and good, and what I should do.
I attended nautical college and graduated as a Department of Trade professional Yachtmaster. The work was great, I never lacked it, and took yachts on some very long passages indeed.
A few close calls
In my later fifties, and after a few close calls on the water – such as a losing a yacht and almost perishing in a liferaft, and surviving a month-long passage adrift on a mastless, engineless dinghy with only nuts and raisins for food.
It felt as if Fate might well be nudging me towards early retirement.
I sailed off on my last voyage, my swallowing-the-anchor 8,000-mile retirement passage, telling the story of that wonderful, exciting and extraordinary voyage in my book, Sailing to Purgatory.
When the hurricane season began, altering course to Britain seemed a good idea. However, in the Bay of Biscay, the mainsail tore almost in two.
I had no choice really but to abandon the route to noble Albion and sail south into a region of fair weather. The voyage ended eventually in South Africa.
I came to UK with the fiancée I had met in the Canaries, after the mother of my daughter Emily asked if I might look after her for the school summer holidays.
|I really thought I would end up on the street, begging and busking for a crust or two. Instead, I found a brilliant side to British life that is very, very far removed from crooked injustice.|
A highlight of the holidays was visiting dear friends, Gerry and Pat Adamson, in Hampshire … and I was ambushed. The unforgettable date was 1st September 1999, just a moment or two before noon.
The Customs people insisted I was a smuggler and rushed me to London. Astounded by the drama, I still believed I would be ok.
Envy of the world
After all, wasn't English justice the envy of the world? Thankfully, I had no idea then that I would not emerge for eight years and 14 days.
The horror of that gross injustice by a prosecution which I feel sure soon realised that the charge was false is touched on in Sailing to Purgatory.
What I would like to show here is how perhaps even a little self-discipline lets you survive without funds.
I really thought that I would end up on the street, begging and busking for a crust or two. Instead, I found a brilliant side to British life that is very, very far removed from crooked injustice.
Let me continue tomorrow and tell you more of this appalling real-life nightmare and what parts of a normal diet it isn’t difficult at all to do without. As people who like a tipple might recognise, I expected the absence of wine to be the cruellest blow. It wasn’t.
In fact, it is surprising how much of our normal diet we can go without, and after a week or two almost hardly even notice.