Wednesday, 4 September 2013
Follow Your Dream
Last Thursday dawned grey but mild and I dropped off Moll at Sheila’s, then Mr B and I walked through Falmouth to the marina by the Maritime Museum. There we made our way down to the pontoon and stood, looking at possibly the most famous boat (of her size) in the world.
Sir Francis Chichester commissioned Gipsy Moth IV so he could sail single handed around the world, against the times set by the clipper ships of the 19th century.
Since then the boat spent nearly 40 years in concrete in Greenwich next to the Cutty Sark, before being bought by a couple desperate to stop her going to America. Now she is owned by the UKSA Trust who aim to help both able and disabled people to gain confidence and acquire skills that could lead to further employment.
With such a wealth of history behind her, she carries a lot of baggage, but 6 of us assembled that morning and clambered on board: all with a love of the sea and sailing. I now get to the point where I have physical withdrawal symptoms if I don’t sail – I get a tugging in my stomach like you do when you experience loss on a grand scale. I get short tempered and tired. I really am an addict in need of a fix.
I was having bad withdrawal symptoms that morning, which was one of the most magical times I’ve spent in a long while. The boat is kindly and, compared to other boats I’ve sailed, much easier. Hoisting the mainsail was like pulling a curtain cord. Chichester is reputed to have kicked her when he finally made it ashore in Plymouth – how could he have?
By the end of the morning we were all good friends. We’d shared experiences, taken endless photographs and were treated to pasties and champagne by Charlie Choak. Most important of all, we’d shared a morning sailing over to Helford on this lovely lady who just took us there, ably and without fuss. I defy anyone not to feel how special she is. I felt incredibly humbled afterwards, and privileged.
Talking to Emily, the First Mate and herself a qualified skipper, she told me that she turned down a better job in marketing to pursue a career as a professional sailor. She was unsure whether it was the right move, and only had 24 hours to make up her mind but an old boss of hers said, “Follow your dream, Emily.”
She did so and has been having an amazing time as a freelance sailor ever since. This is her second year working on Gipsy Moth IV and I can only hope that the boat and Emily continue to inspire future generations to follow their dreams.