The Seven Stages of Buying a Boat

So, you’re thinking of buying a boat or you’ve just done the deal! Now prepare for the seven stages of grief boat buying!


  1. Acceptance and Hope
  2. Reconstruction and Working Through
  3. The Upward Turn
  4. Depression
  5. Anger and Bargaining
  6. Pain and Guilt
  7. Shock and Denial

Sold Stock Illustrations – 31,858 Sold Stock Illustrations, Vectors &  Clipart - Dreamstime
  1. Acceptance and Hope

You’ve bought the boat and everything seems full of promise!

  1. Reconstruction and Working Through
Boat Repair: How to repair cracks and scratches in 8 easy steps | Norton  Abrasives

You start the repairs and upgrades. You want to replace the old lights with energy-efficient LED lights, maybe the battery charger needs upgrading/replacing, solar panels or a wind turbine. Things are looking so promising!

  1. The Upward Turn
2009 Pixar film Up

You’ve installed a few upgrades and are so full of excitement. But then you realise that there are a few issues that didn’t get picked up in the survey. Maybe the rigging wasn’t quite as solid as you first thought or the boom has hidden corrosion and needs replacing, the new rigging is delayed due to supply shortages and two weeks turns into six.

  1. Depression

The delays continue, the costs keep on increasing and you now realise the £10k you budgeted for repairs and upgrades is closer to £20k

  1. Anger and Bargaining
Is Your Bargaining Perpetuating Your Anxiety? 5 Things to Try. — Eileen  Purdy LCSW Is Your Bargaining Perpetuating Your Anxiety? 5 Things to Try.

You’re now (rightly) annoyed at the continuing delays and costs. You start trying to negotiate discounts and cost savings, you may even begin to look to negotiate finance so that you can still afford the dream. You start to cut your cloth as you realise that it’s either rigging on the boat or food (well ok an extra bottle of wine) on the dinner table tonight.

  1. Pain and Guilt
How to save yourself another pointless guilt trip | Psyche Guides

You start to realise that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all. You’ve spent way more than you budgeted and you’re still no closer to actually being able to go sailing. You think about all the other things you could have done with the money, the good that could have come from it (the mortgage payments, starving children, credit card bills).

  1. Shock and Denial

The sailing season is now pretty much over, and you’ve still not actually made it out under canvas. Then the “final” bill arrives. You don’t believe for one second that it has really cost THAT MUCH! You wonder if you could maybe sell the boat, a lot of the work has already been done, she would be a bargain for someone who just wanted to start sailing when the season gets up and going again.

Why did I buy a boat? (Part 2)

The trials and tribulations of buying a 1977 Moody 39CC and moving from a desk job and into the cruising lifestyle – or “Welcome to my mid-life crisis”, as I like to say 🙂


“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore”

André Gide

One thing is for certain; I had lost sight of my reason for living for a long time. I’d had a failed marriage, my business was about to collapse (some would say it never really ever got off the ground), my physical and mental health was in decline, and I was still struggling to come to terms with the death of my father at the age of 66 from lung cancer. One of my biggest regrets is not spending quality time with my parents, who had moved to the Isle of Man about the same time I moved to London to work at Demon Internet in 1995.

We’ll have plenty of time once I retire and you’ve grown your business“, he said. Well, we never managed to get that time, sadly.


David Morby 1946 – 2013

After my father died in 2013, I started spending more quality (guilt?) time with my mum, and we went travelling a little bit, as our schedules would allow. We would eventually go away for a month here and a few weeks there visiting Greece, Lanzarote, Mexico, South Africa, etc. I would sometimes go to the Isle of Man, or mum would come to London, and we would see a show in the West End (or whatever). We started to get to know each other again, and it was great! And then COVID and we’ve been unable to see each other for 18 months. Thank God for Skype and FaceTime!


Through all of this, it became apparent that I loved to travel and to explore countries like a local (not doing the mundane touristy bits). I had been travelling for work for years, but never really getting to see any of the places I visited. Running 14 companies in 9 Countries for a UK PLC, you see lots of airports and hotels, but very little of the actual country that you are in 🙁

Film School

Raindance logo square.png

To get me out of my funk, in 2017, I signed on to an HND in Filmmaking with Raindance in Trafalgar Square,

2019 Cannes Film Festival poster.png
Cannes 2019

London. The course was for 2 years, from October 2017 through to August 2019. Graduation was supposedly March 2020, but COVID put a stop to that. I did graduate with a Distinction though! (all be it without the fanfare). We had made over 50 short films; most were classroom exercises, but 7 of them did make it into the Raindance Film Festival, and at least a couple ended up subsequently winning awards on the festival circuit. We even went to the Cannes Film Festival and experienced the delights of the French Riviera…

The following year, I vowed to return to Cannes in my own yacht; and host some of the students as they submitted their films to the various competitions in the festival.

By 2018, it was obvious that my heart wasn’t in running Fido anymore, and I took the radical steps of effectively quitting my day job, finding someone with the will and strength (and time/gumption/faith) to turn the business around. I decided to make some big changes in my life.

Road to Yachtmaster

After a suitable handover period, I was free to follow my dreams. After a week in Zante in September and then most of December 2019 in Lanzarote with my mother, I flew to Gibraltar on 3rd Jan 2020 to start a FastTrack Yachtmaster course with Allabroad Sailing.

Things were going great guns, I was having the time of my life, I’d met some amazing people and I was losing weight! I had lost some 15kg and clothes that didn’t fit me when I went out there were now falling off me!

Then COVID struck, and just 3 weeks before I was due to take the Yachtmaster exam, the world closed its borders. I opted to fly back to the UK to rescue the cat which I’d left with my neighbours (or is that rescue my neighbours from the cat?!) rather than risk the uncertainty of many months in Gibraltar being unable to leave as the pandemic took hold.

Elite: Dangerous PlayStation 4 Front Cover

A year passed, and nothing much happened in my life. I had put an offer in on a 32-foot Westerley near Brighton, but that fell through when Boris announced the 1st nationwide lockdown and we couldn’t get a surveyor anywhere near the boat. I spent months playing Elite: Dangerous and even bought a new PC, partly for Elite and primarily (I convinced myself) for video editing purposes (oddly, a year in, I’ve barely edited any video, but I have played nearly 1,000 hours of Elite)

By this stage, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life; and was going through some fairly dark times. I had been locked away for over a year, hiding from COVID, hiding from life. I had earned some money doing consultancy work remotely. Still, I hadn’t made a film for over a year, the feature film I was going to write “when I had the time” had failed to materialise, and I had put on 25kg in the meantime sitting in front of a computer playing games and not getting any exercise.

I eventually managed to get the first COVID vaccine in March 2021, which gave me a bit of a mental boost, and I started to venture out again. The world was a different place, but slowly getting back to normal, and I too was starting to feel more like my old self again – and this is when the sailing bug came back with a vengeance, and I desperately felt the need to get out/on/near water. I started calling around to sailing schools trying to book refresher courses, mile builder courses, anything just so I could get back onto a boat and do some “recognisable” miles for my logbook, but the schools were all mothballed; they weren’t sure when they were going to be able to operate again and at that stage I knew, I just knew, that I needed to buy a boat and go do it myself.

Mid Life Crisis in full swing

To make matters worse, I had now turned 50 (May 2021). The mid-life crisis was well and truly upon me!

When I was 25 I bought a sports car, 30 I learned to fly, 35 I bought a plane, 40 I got married, 45 I got divorced (and had to sell the plane), so I guess it was only natural that by the time I was 50 I should be looking to buy a boat.

Every waking moment had ended up being either my watching YouTube sailing videos or searching online for boats. However, now the world was staying at home this summer, there were no boats for sale. Brokers were telling me that boats they took on at 9 am were being sold, above their asking price, by 3 pm the same day. It was a seller’s market! I found a 32 foot Moody in Portland but couldn’t view it as the brokerage that had just listed it was closed due to a COVID outbreak. Subsequently, it seems the boat has sold 2 or 3 times, but the buyers have dropped out; I’ve not as yet been able to find out why, though.

Whilst waiting for the brokerage to re-open and re-arrange the viewing, I stumbled across a Facebook marketplace listing for a 1977 Moody 39CC. I had wanted a 38-40′ boat (or even a 50′ boat), but they were out of my price bracket. I did not have £100k to spend on a boat, and even the cheapest I had found was £75k and they pretty much all needed the rigging replacing and other work, so add £15k to the price (as a minimum) for repairs.

The find (of the century?)

Pamela C was listed at £25,000. I could afford that .. barely. She probably needed new rigging, but the sails seemed in good condition, the boat itself seemed sound, and the guy selling her was amenable. He had apparently already sold her once, but the buyer backed out when he realised that, post-Brexit, he would have to pay VAT on her to get her into Ireland, where he lived.

I engaged a local firm of surveyors, and they found a few minor issues, no show-stoppers (sadly, they missed the issues with the mast, which has cost me about £2,000 more than budgeted so far). Still, they did find enough for me to get £2,000 off the list price and get the vendor to include about £2,000 worth of items that he was trying very hard to unscrew and remove before I saw them. (AIS, Hydrovane wind vane, courtesy flags, etc.).

Now the real work begins!

So that was it, I had, all of a sudden bought a boat! Now the hard work begins, cleaning, sanding, painting, repairing and then learning to sail her. The last bit is the biggest challenge. I have never single-handed a boat this large, and I’m not 100% certain where all the bits of rope go either .. this is, of course, harder to envisage when the boat has no sails, no boom, no mast and no rigging. This, however, is a story for next time!

What is it about sailing?

What is it that I love so much about sailing? Good question! 🙂


Take everything you own that you can’t live without, put it and yourself into the shower turn on the cold water all the way, stay in there for at least two hours. If you come out with a semi-sunny disposition you’re in the club

unknown

The Appeal


Sailing appeals on so many levels, it isn’t easy to know where to start. The fact that you can travel the world without burning any fossil fuels is certainly high up on the list, as is the fact that you can travel to pretty much anywhere in the world!

Yes, it is slow. Pamela C will cruise at roughly 6 knots (7 mph/11 kph), which isn’t really much faster than your average jogging speed, but the fact that she can go 24 hours a day without stopping means that you can easily cover 264km a day or 1,848km in a week, all pretty much while you’re sitting there reading a book, drinking a cup of tea or eating a cake 🙂

When you get there, you have your entire home with you too. You’re not restricted to 10kg of luggage like you are with Ryan Air. You get to sleep in your own (very comfortable) bed every night, and if you have friends along with you for the ride, then you can chat, play games and generally enjoy the journey as part of the experience, without the rushing and cramped quarters of an aeroplane or car.


Life is about the journey not the destination

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yes, there can be bad days, stormy seas and wet weather, but we take the rough with the smooth!

I love waking up on the boat each morning; the fresh sea air and the gentle rocking motion of the boat all lean towards a generally relaxed and happy feeling first thing in the morning. Pamela C has a fairly roomy head with a shower (somewhat larger than showers I’ve encountered in some hotels!) and a gas boiler which heats the water to quite a nice warm temperature.

Since buying the boat, in fact, it no longer feels “right” waking up at home. I really don’t sleep as well as I have been sleeping when I’m on the boat, whether it is the noisy neighbours or traffic zooming past my front door at 3am (the speed bumps just seem to encourage them to go faster in a lower gear between each ramp).

Exercise

Coke Zero 10 X 330Ml - Tesco Groceries

I also love the fact that I’m getting exercise all day, every day, whilst on the boat – without it feeling like I’m going out of my way to exercise. I’m walking roughly 5km a day while the boat is in the marina, compared to less than 1km a day when I’m at home. My core gets an excellent workout when I’m at sea, and the weight seems to fall off. I seem to pick and nibble on sweets and drink lots of Coke Zero when I’m at home. Yes, I have Coke Zero and sweets on the boat, too, as well as beer and alcohol, but I find I’m drinking considerably more water when on the boat and “doing more” every day.

Solitude

Siege is swinging back to being way too strong — Elder Scrolls Online

Yes, some days, sailing on your own can be lonely. I certainly miss the cat (Vesta) and hope that once the boat repairs are finished, I will be able to bring her down to the boat, and she will “cope” with the change of scenery. Inside, I’m a little scared that she’ll get upset, climb the sails/mast and then get catapulted into the sea when a big wave hits the boat, to then be eaten by a shark or similar before I can fish her out of the water. Hopefully, that cartoon scenario of cats being flung into the ocean will never happen, but there is a risk of her getting out and doing something stupid in a state of panic.

Vesta

What about my friends, I hear you say? (Once you’ve stopped laughing at the vision of the cat flying through the air in slow motion). Well, my friends are all more than welcome to join me for a day or a week or longer. Most have day jobs or wives and, as such, can’t get “permission” to be away from home for weeks on end. Yes, they can (and will) come for a day sail or a weekend or whatever, but the concept of dropping everything and sailing for a month or more to Lanzarote seems too alien or shocking for them. Even my last girlfriend decided she couldn’t cope with the thought of me either being away for weeks at a time or that she had commitments and as such couldn’t see how we could even go sailing for a weekend, let alone a month – and promptly ended the relationship. Probably for the best at the end of the day. (I think she could also see that I loved sailing and Pamela C potentially more than I loved her, who knows)

Destinations

Well, as I’ve already said, it is more about the journey than the actual destination, although you obviously need waypoints along the way. I have already come up with a few waypoints while thinking and planning, waiting for the mast and new rigging to be installed. In the short term, I think I’m going to explore the Jurassic Coast of England, then head up to see my mother in the Isle of Man and maybe spend a month there before returning to Portland for the winter (assuming they have found me a berth by then) otherwise I may put Pamela C back on the hard for the winter and dream of sailing further afield in the new year.

Turtle Beach, Zante

I had hoped to be able to sail down to Lanzarote or the Meditteranean for Christmas. With the delays in getting the mast on and the need for some time to do shakedown trips and snagging, it is unlikely that I will be able to get across the Bay of Biscay before September and the insurance company’s moratorium. (No crossing Biscay between September and April). If I manage to get down to Gibraltar before September, I would need to cross to Lanzarote before mid-October to avoid the worst of the weather. Alternatively, I still have a tentative reservation at a little taverna we found in Kiri, Zakynthos, which overlooks Turtle Beach, where we can drop anchor and row ashore for some amazing prawns.

The Views!

Sunset in a marina

The views are also something it can be hard to describe. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets, amazing vistas as you sail along the coastline.

another amazing sunset

The Challenge

Not every day is a simple bimble, every time you go out on the water; you learn something new. Something can break, the weather can turn for the worse despite forecasts saying clear skies. It’s how we deal with these challenges that make a difference.


Sailing – Fixing your boat in exotic locations

A sailor

So, what is it about sailing? You decide. For me, it’s all of the above and more. Hopefully, some of this will tug at your heartstrings and perhaps convince you to go to your local yacht club or sailing school and experience sailing first-hand.

Cheers!

Why did I give up my day job and buy a boat?

Well, those that know me well know that this has pretty much been a lifelong dream to buy a boat and explore the world. As a child, I was captivated by tales of sailing and the sea, stories such as Swallows and Amazons, Robinson Crusoe, Hemingway’s tale of “The Old Man and the Sea” and so many other stories I’d read as a child.

In recent years my hankering was made worse by YouTube and watching the exploits of SV Delos, Sailing La Vagabond, The Sailing Frenchman (Hugo Picard), Sailing GBU and others.

not me at the helm

I first started sailing when I was 14 years old on the reservoir behind my school in Birmingham. I was bitten by the bug and enjoyed sailing a small mirror dinghy whenever I could, up until the time I started working full time and then moved to London to work for Demon Internet in 1995. Over the next 20 years I tried to go sailing as/when I could, but it never really seemed possible, there were always too many obstacles, problems finding a boat to crew and my heart wasn’t in balls-out racing – I preferred to cruise and enjoy the journey.

My career blossomed working for iii PLC and Redbus Interhouse PLC in fairly senior positions, which involved lots of travelling and no real personal time. Then in 2001 I bit the bullet and started my own business (Fido), which meant the end of any free time!

Over the years I had managed the odd day here and a week of sailing there, but it was more disappointing than fulfilling; so I pretty much gave up. When I tried to take my (now ex) wife sailing, she openly laughed “You don’t expect me to get involved in this do you?!” and promptly headed to the nearest 5-star hotel to recover.

Then, having finally “retired” in 2018 (selling the business I had spent almost 20 years developing), I decided to spend 3 months “unwinding”, sailing in the Med at the beginning of 2019 and signed on for a fast track Yachtmaster course, primarily to squash the nagging bug once and for all.

It didn’t work, I was just more determined to find a way to sail and in March 2019 I found a 32-foot Westerley yacht that was calling to me, I put an offer in, was in the process of arranging the survey when COVID struck and the UK went into lockdown. The deal fell through, and I spent the rest of lockdown cursing my luck and focusing on playing computer games, making videos and generally ignoring the call of the sea.

Lockdown finally came to an end and I arranged to go to Portland to view a 32 foot Moody. That took longer than anticipated because the broker’s office tested positive and they went into their own mini lockdown, but in the meantime, I found a 1977 Moody 39CC which was abandoned on the hard at the National Sailing Academy, it needed a little work but generally looked sound. I arranged a survey, which the boat passed with minimal findings (problems) so a deal was struck. That was June 30th 2021.

I had finally (suddenly?!) bought a boat! My dream was starting to come true! … Or, as I have often joked, welcome to my Mid Life Crisis!

What to watch?

I’ve been asked a few times to put together a list of films to watch for people who want to see some of the classics, from a film maker’s perspective

So, here’s my list of suggestions

Narrative Feature Films

Documentary Films

Documentary Short Films

Narrative Short Films

My Manifesto

I have often been asked “so if you don’t think they (Boris, et al) are doing a good job, what would you do in their place?” … so I decided it might be time to put it down “on paper” so I can answer the question more simply and openly.


COVID-19 Response

I would have closed the borders in March last year, with enforced quarantine and testing for arrivals (key workers and UK residents returning home) … basically do what the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Australia and New Zealand did (note they all have 0 infections in the general population and are on the whole carrying on as normal) … (the Isle of Man had 6 cases just before Xmas, so they put the whole Island into lockdown for 3 weeks and they’re now COVID free again as of today)

Currently, you can still arrive in the UK from pretty much everywhere … ok so in the last week you now need to show a negative test that’s 72 hours old (and fill in a card saying where you’re going to be staying for the 14 days) .. then you jump on a train / tube / bus and head home where you self isolate for 10-14 days … but if you have the infection you’ve spread it around your entire route home.

The EU / EEA

I wouldn’t have left the EEA … tbh I wouldn’t have left the EU either, I would have worked on the issues that the leave voters had and addressed their concerns on immigration / etc (note, we had the power to close borders, require EU visitors to have a job within 3 months of arriving/independent means or to return to their place of origin). I would have worked to educate regarding the supposed “EU dictatorship and red tape” … (note they’re elected officials who appoint some civil servants, just as we have elected officials who appoint/hire civil servants in the UK – who for example voted for Dominic Cummings????!)

NHS


I would not be sitting on NHS pay increases … those guys have had a net reduction in salaries over the last 10 years taking into account inflation.

Homeless

I would be doing more to help the homeless

Fake News and The Media

I would be doing more to counter fake news and the bias of the Murdoch press

Government Reform


I would work to reduce duplication and waste within Government, I would pressure MPs to reject the repeated pay increases they’ve received – or even better – tie MPs salaries to every other Civil Servant and Government worker so everyone gets the same level of pay increase at the same time.

Taxation

I would bring in additional taxation levels for those earning more than £100k, £250k, £1m and £5m / year … look at finding ways to tax the likes of Amazon and Starbucks more fairly … and I would look at bolstering the NHS with additional funding from these taxes.

Development and Regeneration

I would also be working to encourage more development of IT skills across the country, promoting numerous “Silicon Valley” style business hubs in every major city across the UK
And I would be working with our MEPs to work in Europe for the good of all, promoting UK values instead of letting the likes of Farage showboat but actually not do anything while in office (note he turned up to 1 of 42 fisheries council meetings as an MEP, yet he purports to speak for the UK fishing industry)

Crime and Punishment

Focus on reducing crime, especially knife crime but also cybercrime (see the IT hubs across the UK which would be developing security applications amongst others and broadening awareness of cyber fraud tactics originating from overseas)

The Arts

I would also ensure we supported the Arts within the UK, increasing funding for Theatre and Film productions

Tourism

Additional support for tourism throughout the UK, promoting the UK as a viable tourist destination for both domestic and international holidaymakers.


and that’s just a start ….

Are you sitting comfortably?

It’s been a while since the most expensive chair I ever bought has arrived, and I have to admit it was worth the money!

I have had a bad back for years, made worse by a stupid accident at work which resulted in me being laid up for the best part of 3 months with torn ligaments.

The cat approves too!

Suffice it to say, proper posture and a comfortable seat is important to me – so much so in fact that at Raindance I’ve actually had to go as far as getting a proper chair to sit in. This was a “cheap” £75 chair from Amazon, and it was the same as one I’d had at home for a year or so. Comfortable, but it didn’t stand the test of time and the arms broke off it not once, but twice!

I finally decided it was time to take the plunge as I’d heard such good things about Secret Lab chairs …. Turns out, they weren’t lying!

The chair took forever to arrive, but once it did it was obvious why it costs so much money. The build quality was like nothing I have ever seen before! Putting it together wasn’t too difficult and within half an hour or so I was sat in my new throne.

Comfort, posture, adjustable everything – this has it all

So I can strongly recommend the Secret Lab chairs (I have the Titan). And they’ve just sent me an offer/referral link which will get you £20 off your order.

Couple that with the 5-year warranty that these chairs come with, and I really don’t think you can go wrong.

Reminiscing

Scrolling through Facebook this morning, as you do, I was greeted by an image reminding me it was Zoran‘s birthday today. This made me think back over the various DoP’s I’ve known, worked with and/or studied under and I thought now would be a good time to locate and collate all those “crew” photos from ages past.

We have the birthday boy himself – Zoran with credits ranging from Raindance Film Festival trailers through to features such as “Love is Thicker than Water”, Deadly Virtues, Dangerous Parking and more

Cinematography with Raindance

Tony Pierce-Roberts who worked on films such as Disclosure, Underworld and Vampire Academy

Tony Pierce-Roberts masterclass in cinematography 2016

And then my own films and crew photos including

The Night We Opened for the New Ed Sheeran

The Night We Opened for the new Ed Sheeran (2019)

Geneticide – my first Sci Fi short

Geneticide (2019)

behind the scenes / unofficial crew shot from Dating Dilemmas
– a satirical look at love in the naughties

Dating Dilemmas (2018)

There are a number of other films I’ve worked on in the last 2 years however I’m struggling to find crew shots for them currently – which I think highlights the need to make sure that they happen, and that they’re kept archived somewhere useful like this post 🙂

They include

Under Duress

Damellette

Lenore

Momentum

The Power of Max

Britain’s Little Broadway

Coping With Lockdown

It’s (almost) November 2020, and the UK is heading back into a series of local lockdowns or “Tier 3”. COVID is rife and the much anticipated second wave is starting to take hold. 

This is my personal story on how COVID has impacted me to date, and how I’ve coped with lockdown and the associated isolation. 

When all of this started, I was single, 48 years old and living one of my childhood dreams; preparing to sail around the world on a yacht. 

You join me in Gibraltar with a bunch of guys who I’d met only a couple of weeks earlier and hardly knew. We were training for the RYA Yachtmaster ticket, improving our skills and building miles.

I had been travelling in one guise or another since October the year before. October, my mother and I had gone to Zante for 2 weeks as a chance to get away and spend some quality time together.  My mum lives in the Isle of Man, so I don’t see her nowhere near as often as I’d like. 

December we went to Lanzarote for 3 weeks, again to spend some time together and get away from the cold and wet British weather.

Yes, you may have noticed i seem to have spent most of my time scuba diving and no, at 74 my mother doesn’t scuba dive … in fact she doesn’t even swim! But we did still spend at least half of each day together! 

Towards the end of February we are starting to hear reports of COVID and by March it was evident things were going to get worse. 

Through local contacts, I had heard that Spain was about to close her borders and I decided it was time to head home, I could always come back later this year to finish the course.

I arrived home on March 15th.  Oddly this would have been my Dad’s birthday.  It was also the day we said goodbye to him in 2013 following a brief battle with lung cancer.

David Morby, 1946-2013

March 17th, a group of about 20 of us got together for a last supper, I went home, closed my door and pretty much didn’t emerge again until September.


During the next 6 months of self imposed solitary confinement, the UK saw more than 918,000 cases of COVID and experienced more than 45,000 deaths.  We were told to stay home if we could, save lives, save the NHS.

source uk.gov Oct 28th 2020

Having spent the previous 2 months on an 11 meter (37 foot) yacht co-existing with 4 other blokes, coming home to my 2 bed terrace in Watford felt like a palace! Friends had been cat sitting for me while I was away, but it was evident I had been missed and for the next few weeks and months Vesta barely left my side.  Eventually she realised I wasn’t going anywhere and started getting back into her old routines though.

Initially the solitude really didn’t bother me.  I was really enjoying the space, my own company and not tripping over everyone on the tiny 3 metre wide boat.  I was also mentally prepared for the solitude as I had known I would experience this as I sailed for weeks at a time between countries, with no one to talk to but the birds and the fishes…

I had a long bucket list of things to do while I was away, dozens of books to read, finally learn to play the guitar, write that killer screenplay which I would sell on my return to civilisation – or shoot myself being a budding director and cinematographer.

I sat down and started working on my now 8 year old Mac Pro.  It may have been old, but it was still the only Pro computer Apple sold and it was still one of the most powerful ⎌in their product range. The only problem was, it was slow. It couldn’t cope with rendering even some of the most basic 4K film projects, and to be honest I had become quite disillusioned with Apple and OS X over the last couple of years anyway.  I decided that as I was going to be stuck here for the next few months, and as the purchase of my boat had fallen through thanks to COVID, I had some spare cash and it was tie to buy a new computer.  So, I bit the bullet and decided it was time to build myself a new PC. 

My old day job, before I sold the company in June, was running an ISP (or Internet Services provider).  I built and ran Linux based servers all day, every day, so the building of a PC wasn’t scary. Switching to Windows on the other hand, and OS I really hadn’t looked at since the days of Windows XP – well that was something else!

I ran a few tests, just to make sure, and soon became convinced that actually OSX was old hat and what a refreshing change Windows 10 was … Microsoft had finally done something right!

I placed the order for the components and £3,500 and a week later they arrived, and were soon assembled into a shiny new PC.

I needed to test out this beast, and ran a few benchmarks …. yes, this was an awesome bit of kit, so much faster than my old Mac. 

It was at this stage, I remembered an old computer game which I had been a backer of years earlier, but had to stop playing the Mac because the Mac just couldn’t keep up.  No, not Crisis, this was Elite: Dangerous … so I dug out the download, installed it, found my VR headset and resurrected my old account.

That, was my first big mistake. I got so hooked on the game that I played for 2 months straight. 12 hours a day at least! I took my ancient and barely developed account and turned it into a multiple Elite level beast. I increased my credit balance from 100,000 credits to 30 Billion credits in the space of those 2 months and bought a fleet carrier … which got me even more hooked! I then started a 2nd character, and a 3rd! I was playing for hours in bed on my old Xbox, before getting up playing some more on the PC first as one character, then as the other.  All I did for 2 months solid was play this game!

I met a bunch of interesting players online, and even got one of my old friends to install Elite and start playing, much to his wife’s chagrin as apparently the DIY jobs around the house weren’t going to do themselves!

It was now May and my 49th Birthday. We were still heavily in lockdown, and I celebrated the day on my own … well with Vesta. A sad and sobering day, one which would normally be filled with dozens of friends, a BBQ in my garden and more often than not, followed by at least 2 days of clearing up and a recycling bin overflowing with bottles!

June came and went.  My mums 74th birthday, we’d usually spend the time together in London, doing a show or two, dining out and always some window shopping. Instead it was spent briefly on Skype before getting back to more Elite. 

July and August soon blurred into one.  By this time though, my mood had changed. I hadn’t noticed at the time, but May, June and July started to see the depression really set in. I was no longer bothering to do anything around the house, I was ordering take out more and more. Amazon had been delivering my groceries for weeks/months. They were the only place that still had delivery slots and even they weren’t all that easy to get. 

By this stage I had put on 20kg through constant snacking and no exercise. All the weight I had lost since August 2019 had been put back on, and some. I couldn’t even get into clothes that were falling off me in January  … and realising this just made the depression worse. And what do I do when I’m depressed? I comfort eat! Yes, putting on even more weight. 

I decided I needed to do something, and had seen that Raindance were starting a BA(Hons) top up course in film making. 3 years ago, when I had decided I wanted to change the direction my life was going in, I had signed up for a 2 year HND course in film and media studies. I loved the course, met so many amazing people and made a bunch of new friends… we made nearly 50 films in the 2 years, many were experimental, some made it to festivals and a handful were screened at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square. Life was good!

I graduated with a distinction, and the same year found a buyer for my ailing company. Did a deal and found myself free to explore and experience life.  My mid life crisis was well underway!

Now however I was really beginning to feel lonely, prone to frequent outbursts of tears for no real reason and I was finding it harder and harder to sleep.  

Part 2 follows next week

That Windows Life – Part 1

Windows Logo

Having pulled the trigger and finally decided to move to Windows from OSX, I thought I’d list a few things (in no particular order) that I love / hate about the move. What am I missing and what has blown my mind.

First off, Windows Hello. This is FaceID for the desktop and is awesome! You need a camera that supports 3D scanning such as the Logitech Brio 4K, which isn’t cheap, but seeing as though I’m always mistyping passwords and forgetting PIN numbers, this seemed like a really nice upgrade from my old Logitech C920. And, thanks to COVID, I’ve managed to sell the C920 for about the same as I paid for it 2 years ago, so, all in all, it’s a win-win!.


Next, performance. This machine is quite literally blisteringly fast! I have never seen Cinebench run that fast.

Faster than a speeding bullet! 🙂

Windows does try to be a little clever at times and each time it detects a change on the video outputs (I either switch the monitor input to another computer, or even the screen just goes to sleep) Windows was randomly rescanning speaker and microphones and assigning the HTC Vive headset priority instead of the Yeti microphone and Bose USB speakers. I have now, finally (I hope), found a fix for this and have Steam VR playing through the VR headset when I want it to, without impacting my day to day enjoyment of Spotify / etc (whether there’s a monitor attached to the PC or not – while I’m decommissioning my old Macs)


Cortana

latest-microsoft-cortana-update-emphasizes-productivity-features

I was amazed at how good Cortana actually is. Probably not quite as good as Alexa, but light years ahead of Siri. Siri is sadly another example of something that Apple innovated well with and then dropped the ball. While Amazon (and Microsoft) seem to have continued to develop the underlying technology and making the AI more intelligent and responsive, Apple just seem to have focussed on making Siri sound better (debatable) without actually working on the AI or recognition factors.


Microsoft Edge

Edge / Internet Explorer / etc have always sucked. They’ve just really been bad. Microsoft seem to have finally come to terms with this and have redesigned/rewritten their web browser, based on Chromium. Yes you heard it, Microsoft Internet Explorer is now Google Chrome with a Windows Logo on it. Well almost. Annoyingly (for me) they’ve also replaced the Google sync sign in with sign in to Microsoft Live. Not augmented it so we can have either or, they’ve just replaced it. This means I’m not really getting to use Edge as much as I could because of the way Microsoft consume everything it touches, and the fact that I’m already consumed by Google (at this stage at least) and to a lesser extent Fido (which I owned and ran for 20+ years before finally hanging up my Director’s braces and donning my film makers baseball cap instead!).

Gaming

Where to start! There are literally thousands of games available for Windows and new top mark games appearing almost daily. Whether it’s the latest release of Doom, Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed, Diablo from Blizzard, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, the list is almost endless!


My personal favourite game (since 1984) has been Elite. Obviously I’m not still playing the 1984 BBC micro version today (although I still can through an emulator!), Elite Dangerous released in 2014 and now Elite Dangerous: Horizons are awesome space



The VR gaming experience is amazing. I’m still blown away by how realistic it can feel.

VR as a whole is still only just coming into its own. May 2020 and we’re still in lockdown, however, I was able to “get out” and walk around Stonehenge, go for a parachute jump out of an aeroplane and even walk around art galleries in London, all without actually leaving my house. Having been staring at the same 4 walls for over a month now, I needed the escapism – and through the world of VR, it was actually very realistic. I’ve also found a world of VR content online with short films and interactive experiences that I’m working through, some of which are incredibly realistic and make you feel as though you are totally there in the room and in the moment!

a Web Room (Mozilla Hub) where you can meet up and wander around a virtual representation of Stonehenge

How Easy is it to switch?

Ok, so the UI is different and takes a little getting used to, but if you can navigate OSX then you can navigate Windows 10 – although the window toggles are on the right not the left.

Applications – do I miss them?

Look at this list of apps … as you will see, most if not all of them (apart from FCPX) have native Windows versions.

ApplicationMacWindows Alternative?
Adobe Creative Suite
(Premiere, Photoshop, etc)
YesYesN/A
Davinci Resolve StudioYesYesN/A
Microsoft OfficeYesYesN/A
Google ChromeYesYes
Mozilla FirefoxYesYes
Apple MailYesNoWindows Mail
Final Cut Pro XYesNoDavinci or Adobe
Sublime Text EditorYesYes
Macromates TextMateYesNoSublime
MalwarebytesYesYes
SteamYesYes
SteamVRNoYes
Elite DangerousYes (no VR)Yes
Elite Dangerous HorizonsNoYes
Doom, Tomb Raider, 500 other cracking gamesNoYes
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020NoYesXPlane
Built-in Unix shell for SysAdmin stuffYesYes!
Messenger, Skype, Telegram, etcYesYes
Thunderbird, PostboxYesYes
Spotify / SonosYesYes
iCloud Drive / Sync (Photos/etc)YesYes
Google DriveYesYes
Dropbox, pCloud, etcYesYes
iMessage and FaceTimeYesNoSkype/Messenger
Telegram/WhatsApp
Kyno (media management)YesYes
On the whole, most tools are cross-platform now

To be honest, the only real deal breaker might have been the loss of iMessage. That said, millions of Android users and Windows users have survived without it and I still use Telegram and Facebook Messenger every day, and WhatsApp if I have to. I still have iMessage on my Phone and Tablet … and I’m not dropping those, yet a while anyway! (Note, I did try 2 years ago and bought a Samsung Galaxy S10. I lasted a week and had to send the phone back, I just couldn’t get on with Android – or the fact that apps constantly crashed)

Subtle UI differences

There are some subtle UI differences. For years I’ve been able to drag a file from a folder to a dialogue box to change the directory that the dialogue box is searching in to open a file. On Windows, if you drag the file from a folder to the dialogue box it actually moves the file into the folder that the dialogue box has open and doesn’t change the directory. Not a major issue, but something I got caught out on initially.

Likewise, I have been used to clicking on the icon at the top of a window to copy/move a file, this doesn’t work on Windows. I need to do a “save as” instead – big deal

Backups. Time machine has been amazing. I’ve rarely ever needed to use it, but I have done a full bare metal restore using it twice now I think. Windows has snapshots, but I think I might need to “buy” a 3rd party backup tool (thankfully I have the QNAP and that has backup tech built in)