My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
Adventure’s been in my blood since I was a small boy living on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales in northern England. After leaving school, I hitch-hiked alone from Cape Town to Cairo and visited Afghanistan before the Russian invasion. Travelling and writing have always been my ambitions and I’ve been fortunate to be able to indulge them both. Living life as a great adventure and accepting whatever happens are key.
I emigrated to Canada in 1980 and in 1983-84 walked the entire length of the Ganges, India’s holiest river, raising money for Save the Children Fund. The fascinating journey took seven months and was the subject of my first book, “A Walk along The Ganges”. From 1985 to 1991, I travelled extensively in the Amazon in a canoe, carrying little more than a rain canopy, mosquito net and a hammock, and wrote about the experience in “Amazon”. During these travels I was fortunate enough to met and eventually stay with Yanomami Indians in a remote area of the rain forest north of the river Amazon.
At that time their land was being invaded by illegal goldminers, with government sanction. I was able to chronicle their fight to survive in “Savages, The Life and Killing of the Yanomami”. Fortunately, for several different reasons, the Brazilian government eventually agreed to demarcate the land of the Yanomami and declared a reserve. Real efforts to remove all the goldminers were made. I was intensely involved in their struggle and afterwards it was difficult to find any project equally fascinating and compelling.
So I took a break from travelling and writing and in 1995 built and operated Still Life Retreat in southern Ontario, Canada, offering peace and quiet to the “wilted and the wired”. I also edited and published two editions of the “Canadian Retreat Guide”. Still Life was non-denominational – the idea was to create a comfortable, safe and beautiful place where people could relax and become centred. A quiet time away from normal routine is a great way to gain a new perspective on troubles big and small.
After four years I left Still Life just before the new millennium and after a stint living in the city of Toronto soon took up sailing. The new hobby was so addicting that I had to stop for a year. But in the end a quest for a cabin by the Atlantic Ocean in Noiva Scotia became a $30,000 sailboat in Thailand. I didn’t actually do much sailing and after two years sold the boat and moved ashore.
Then in 1995, I opted for the sea once more. I now live most of the year on my 32-foot steel sailboat “Kuan Yin”. My current project is retrace the extraordinary voyage in 1811 of an Inuk sea captain and Moravian missionaries along the coast of Labrador into Ungava Bay, in northern Canada.
In preparation for this voyage I completed refitted Kuan Yin over two summers, with help from many friends, then sailed down the St. Lawrence to Newfoundland and the Atlantic Ocean last summer.
2011 was supposed to be the summer when I went north – or “down the Labrador” as they say in Newfoundland. However, I was plagued with mechanical problems all summer and the season passed. it took three months to install a new transmission and a lot of money. However, there’s always next year.