Planning the shakedown cruise

Before setting off on the planned Atlantic adventures later this year, I feel it prudent to run a few shakedown cruises closer to home. I’ve mentioned some of the anticipated destinations in earlier blog posts, but this is the first time I’ve started to actually get the charts out and plan the trips.

The idea is, on the whole, to avoid marinas where ever possible and live “on the hook” making the most of dried provisions, our new (yet to be installed) watermaker from Spectra (ordered at the 2020 boat show and delivered at the end of December).

The mission of the shakedown cruise is to work out the best camera angles, and to get a load of b-roll for my upcoming documentary series, to work out what does and doesn’t work on the boat and find ways of fixing / re-modelling what we can, and to train the crew ahead of trips where we may be out of sight of land for 2-3 weeks at a time (instead of 2-3 hours or worst case a day).

The UK West Coast leg

The planned excursion totals roughly 2,200 nm – which is quite a trip, and would take 18 days if we were to sail it none stop. The actual plan is to spend between 1 and 2 months doing it, starting on the South Coast, working our way up the West Coast until we hit the Isle of Man, spending a week or more exploring the Isle of Man (and seeing my mum) before heading up to Scotland to explore some of the Islands there and then heading South again, ideally down the West Coast of Ireland (weather and seas permitting) before making for the Scilly Isles, Guernsey, Jersey and then back up to Weymouth or Portland – or South to Gibraltar depending on how well the shakedown went.

Current plans are to dip our toes in the water with small overnight trips during February and March before heading off on the longer trip towards the end of March/beginning of April – although as with all things sailing, there is no hard and fast schedule as we are always at the mercy of the weather (and technical issues).


Route to Gibraltar

If all goes well then the next journey will be roughly 1,450nm to Gibraltar via the Channel Islands, and a number of ports and marinas en route as we bimble along the West Coast of France, Spain and Portugal until we arrive in the Meditteranean and the Straits of Gibraltar. The anticipated journey time is 3 weeks (although, again, we could do it none-stop in 8 days – but where’s the fun in that?!)

Following Our Travels

It is my intention to try and post fairly regular updates on YouTube both on a special channel for SV Pamela C as well as on my own channel SeaSwabJon as we progress around the West Coast, detailing the issues encountered as well as the sights we have seen.

I am also encouraging Jack to write a book on the Gibraltar leg, along with details of ports and routes, which we will then “fact check” en route and hopefully have more YouTube exploits for your viewing pleasure as we undertake what will inevitably be one long pub crawl from Brest to Gibraltar – checking out the marinas, the restaurants and the bars as we go!

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Impossible Journeys

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin ..


As we start a new year, we reflect on what was and then we look forward to what will be, always remembering that our past does not equal our future!

These past 3 years since I quit my job and started on a journey of self-discovery, I have come to realise that so much time was wasted in the never-ending rat race, working to live but actually living to work.

I had been mildly successful and had a couple of lucky breaks, but like the gambler who always thinks they’re on a winning streak and who keeps going regardless, I didn’t know when to stop, walk away and say “enough is enough”. I kept ploughing on, re-investing the money I’d made into new ventures, only to find those fail one by one and my cash reserves disappearing rapidly as a result.

More than ten years of my life was spent trying to replicate the accidental successes I had in the midst of the dot com bubble. Instead, I should have walked away and banked my winnings. To be honest, I did try to do this when I was in my late twenties, but without life experience or any real idea of what alternatives were ahead of me, I just carried on doing what I knew best. I think I lacked the imagination or had already had most of it beaten out of me in the early years (I had pitched a number of ideas for services such as YouTube, Netflix and the like only to be rejected so many times, I started to believe these things really weren’t possible)

It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I finally began to appreciate that there must be something better – an existence that doesn’t involve working 100 hours a week, sleeping on the floor of the data centre because I was too tired to drive home or even walk to a hotel nearby. I had truly gone from one extreme to the other with work, but I was addicted, I couldn’t let go or switch off. I was hiding from life in my work.

Middle Age:

That time when you finally get your head together and your body starts falling apart


Five years later, however, I have finally managed to switch off – possibly a little too successfully – as I am now living almost full time on my boat, slowly starting to explore the coast of the UK and planning my next “impossible journey”. Money is running out, but my inner peace and mental well being are better than they have been in a very long time.

Your past doesn’t equal your future

In the past, I was guilty of doggedly holding onto a losing cause, whether it was the failing business, my failing relationships, or just the fact that I needed to work no matter what. I still exhibit some of those “addictive personality” traits, but I am looking forward to ways of continuing the journey and not looking back at the quicksand that had become my career – the more I struggled and fought against it, the faster I sank into the sand.

I love asking kids what they want to do when they grow up because I’m still looking for ideas!


The Future

Initially, I plan on learning my new boat inside and out. I need to work on my personal fitness (I was unfit before spending 18 months in lockdown!)

I need to find a small crew who can help with general handling, ideally, someone to share the experiences and the costs with, but primarily someone to spend the cold nights with and stop the cabin fever setting in!

Once general handling is second nature, then we set off on one of those “impossible journeys”. Heading off in search of warmer climates and exotic foods, golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean.

Life is a journey, and just as in Life, I don’t want to get there and complete the trip quickly, I want to enjoy the experience and make new memories, travel and make new friends along the way. Gibraltar (for example) is 1,000 nm away. We could do the trip in 5 days, but where is the fun and adventure in that – instead it should take maybe a month, as we meander down the coast stopping off at little villages and ports along the way, dropping the hook and exploring. The same with the Mediterranean, spending just one season exploring the Med seems short-sighted, ideally, this should take a few years (if funds permit). No more rat race, no more rushing to the finishing line travelling at Mach 1 with my hair on fire!

There is a lot to be said for travelling at 5 knots. You see the world in a different way when it passes by so slowly, and there is so much to see out there!

Exploring the World

One of the beauties of owning a boat and sailing is that you can move your home to a new location without any fuss. The feeling of waking up in the morning in a new location, opening the hatch and looking out at a different neighbourhood every few days, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures … is truly priceless.

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End of a season, but not the end of the road!

“When you sail for the first time, you have one of two experiences. It becomes a one-time, bucket-list thing you check off your list, or it becomes a part of your soul forever.”

Michelle Segrest.

For me, sailing has been in my blood since my early days at school. When I first discovered I could go sailing Wednesday afternoons instead of having to play either rugby or hockey at school, I saw the appeal, but once I was on the water I was completely hooked!

Over the years I’ve progressed from small sailboats to larger yachts, and for years had wanted to sail and to explore (more than race). I have always been of a mind that the journey is almost more important than the destination, whether I was flying a plane, going on road trips across America, Europe or even the UK, or jumping on a yacht and sailing. Sadly, most of the people I would sail with were more of the mind that a quick spin out into the bay or a potter out for an hour (or two), then turn around and come home. There wasn’t much of a “journey” and certainly no real adventure – but it served to develop my skills and show me some of my many weaknesses.

For years, buoyed on by the experiences of SV Delos, La Vagabond, Hugo the Sailing Frenchman and more I wanted to go explore, to adventure, to live the dream on a sailboat!

Having worked hard for most of my life and taken very few holidays, eventually burning out, I finally found the time (and the money) to buy my first real yacht. She’s a 1977 Moody 39CC so not exactly anything “flashy” but she’s solid, and she will get me from A to B and hopefully all the way to Z!

But first comes the maintenance and repair work. Being almost as old as me (I was, after all, born in 1971, so the boat is just 6 years younger than me!) she needs some work. New rigging was a must and that ended up meaning a new boom too. Original estimates were that we’d be done by July 22nd, but due to delays in the supply chain, miscommunication with the company doing the rigging, additional works being required to strengthen/repair the mast and just the fact that everything “boat” takes twice as long and costs twice as much, it was October before the critical upgrades were completed. There are still essential jobs that need to be done tuning the new rigging, resolving issues with friction on the furling line for the headsail, we need to look at ways of bringing the reefing lines and sheets back into the cockpit so that I can sail the boat single-handed more easily.

Ventura 200T

There are also some ongoing issues with the hot water system which will only really be addressed by replacing the existing water heater with a calorifier and accumulator. All of this is an additional expenditure that I hadn’t originally accounted for this year. I’ve also ordered a water maker, which retails at about £7,500 – but means I will be able to make my own water whilst at sea, thus being more self-sufficient. I’m in the process of installing Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries and an inverter so I can still have 240v power whilst at sea, charged by solar panels, wind and/or even the engine depending on where we are in the world.

Some of these jobs were slated for next year, but as the boat wasn’t going anywhere and as I managed to find some deals at the boat show, I decided to start them now. All of this does mean however that I’ve spent considerably more money now than I had a) budgeted for and b) actually have, which means some creative financing. I’m also trying to sell off some possessions that I quite frankly don’t need and were an extravagance when I bought them 20+ years ago (thankfully it turns out they’ve become collectable, so could be worth somewhat more than I paid for them – we shall see)

Canary Islands

So, what’s next? Well, I need to find a source of income that will enable me to continue to chase my dream. My current income sources are drying up and whilst I had hoped to have enough saved to last for 3-5 years, it is looking more than likely to be 6 months before I run out of money at this rate. That said, I’m not yet ready to give up on my dream of sailing to Lanzarote and on to the Bahamas just yet!

By now, I should already be in the Canary Islands, but thanks to the monumental delays and additional expenditure (some £10,000) of additional essential works and another £6,000 in mooring fees, that just hasn’t happened.

The start of the journey is not easy, we have to cross the Bay of Biscay, and doing that in the winter is a very bad idea. Rough seas and strong winds make the crossing risky, to say the least. The boat’s insurers specifically state no crossing Biscay after September. Doing so is like playing Russian Roulette with the weather. One day it is calm and the next day you’re running from a force 9 gale and 6-10m swells. (just 3m swells can capsize a yacht and can also be most uncomfortable!)

Today, for example, there are 35kt winds and 6m waves in/around Biscay. It would not be a pleasant place to be just at the moment.

Mother Nature can be cruel
Celtic Sea and Bay of Biscay bathymetric map-en.svg

Before setting off across Biscay, I wanted to log several hundred miles sailing around the UK first, dropping the hook and staying overnight in coves and anchorages along the way. To date, I think we have managed to log a total of just 30nm and the only time we tried dropping the hook the windlass failed and I ended up having to drop and retrieve the anchor myself by hand (which resulted in a bruised rib – not the most successful of shakedown cruises).

Some successes and upgrades though, the new diesel heater for example is amazing – I had the boat up to 24C inside while it was just 4C outside, so nice and toasty!

Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery 12 Volt 170Ah

I am also tempted to replace the gas cooker with an electric oven and an induction hob. There were some cheap Black Friday deals on Amazon so I’ve ordered an induction hob and I’m looking at combination microwave ovens currently. They should run off the new bank of LiFePO4 (340Ah) batteries (another Black Friday deal) and the 3KW inverter which I bought from Renogy this month. Fingers crossed anyway!

So, the UK sailing season has ended and whilst I’ve already spent more than 145 days onboard, I’ve only actually managed to sail 30nm so far. We’ve dropped the hook and had a swim and a picnic (water temp was 8C so the swim was short, but we did see mermaids!)

The plan early next year is to circumnavigate the UK, stopping off in the Isle of Man to celebrate my mum’s birthday, and visiting a number of childhood holiday spots on the way including seaside resorts such as the following bucket list which amounts to more than 18,000nm travelled if I see them all!

Destination Bucket List

Isle of Man (Laxey, Douglas, Peel)
Lulworth Cove
Polperro (Cornwall)
St Ives
Port Eynon in Swansea
Watermouth Cove (Ilfracombe)
Scotland and Scottish Isles
Channel Islands
Northern France
La Rochelle
A Coruña
Punta Umbria
La Linea
Canary Islands
Puerto Rico
Dominican Republic
The Caribbean
St Lucia
Antigua and Barbuda
Trinidad and Tobago
Bucket List Destinations

If you fancy more regular updates and would like to support my adventures then you can always become a Patreon supporter and make one-off or regular donations towards the operational costs of cruising life. If there is a call for it then I will start making videos showing the delights of the locations, the problems encountered whilst underway, and anything else (within reason!) you want me to do or highlight.

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Missing in action

On the evening of Saturday 16th October, I had a few guests over for dinner. The night was fun and Vesta was happy sitting on people’s laps and being loved. Then one of the guests jumped up to take a phone call and rushed out of the boat.

I had already asked everyone to make sure that they kept the hatches closed, primarily to keep the heat in, but also the cat as the weather for the week was not looking all that promising (40+ mph winds were forecast).

Before I noticed that the guest had not, as previously instructed, closed the hatch, it was too late, Vesta had run up the ladder and out of the companionway! Now normally, this isn’t a problem. I would leave the boat open when I’m out and Vesta would come and go as she pleased.

Vesta stayed out all night, despite my leaving the hatch open just in case she came back (yes, it was bitterly cold and wet that night).

The following night I found some signs that she may have been nearby (fresh poo on another boat) but other than that, there was no sign.

We’ve put posters up and have posted to every missing cat group I can find on Facebook that covers the Dorset/Portland/Weymouth area. Less than a week after Vesta went missing, these posts have been shared more than 100 times!

The marina has very kindly agreed to put posters up on the gate and noticeboard, but so far there have been no sightings. One of the marina staff has been round in the workboat looking in all the “usual” spots in case she fell in and was washed up somewhere, but (thankfully) no signs of her there either.

The search continues …

Missing Cat Poster

November 10th

It has been nearly a month since Vesta went missing and despite dozens of suspected sightings, she has not as yet been found. I have personally walked miles and miles in the local area checking out suspected sightings, and have even collected and taken stray cats to local vets so that they can be scanned and reunited with their owners. I only hope someone eventually finds Vesta and does the same.

December 1st

We have had several storms, winds topping 80mph and still no sign of Vesta. At this stage I’m beginning to give up hope and can only assume she has either stowed away on another boat and is sunning it up in the Bahamas somewhere, has found another loving home where it is warm and there is a fire and she is being fed and cared for, or that she has met Davy Jones and has learned to swim with the fishes 🙁

I keep hoping that someone will find her and take her to a vet so they can scan her chip and we can be reunited, but at this stage I’m about ready to accept that she isn’t coming back 🙁

Another day at sea!

September 20th, Jack again came on board with Gregg’s finest, suggesting that it was a nice day for a sail … to be honest, he had me at “hello” and I was raring to go (I’m not yet comfortable taking Pamela C out on my own, although getting closer and closer to feeling comfortable) and anyone offering to come and catch lines is more than welcome!

We went out into the bay with a plan of dropping anchor and having a cup of tea. Jack, leading me astray as always, suggested a trip to Lulworth Cove as a bit of a shakedown. I don’t know if he’s been reading my blog or not, but Lulworth Cove was literally the first place I wanted to go once I had the sails on the boat! So, with just the headsail and still no boom, at 3:30 pm, we set sail for Lulworth Cove.

The route taken
Captain Jack

We were on a starboard tack all the way there, wind in the sails and the sun on our backs. It was heavenly!

Arriving at Lulworth Cove just before 5:30 pm we decided to go around the corner to Mupe Bay where we found ourselves along with 2 other boats all getting ready to drop the hook. I looked at my watch and realised that it was going to be getting dark soon (7:30 pm) and if we didn’t head back fairly soon we would find ourselves returning in darkness. We turned and put the jib out again, but the wind had decided to pack up for the day, so we ended up motor sailing back at 6 knots, getting back to the outer breakwater at 7:30 pm and were tied up just before 8 pm (so in the dark). Warren and Bill (neighbours in the marina) very kindly turned on their deck lights so we could see where we were heading back to on J Pontoon, and they were there to catch lines and help us tie up, and then have a beer to celebrate our first proper sail out on Pamela C.

Lulworth Cove

Auto Helm

Yesterday the autohelm worked wonders, held a steady course with no issues. Today, it kept wandering, 30 odd degrees before I gave up and turned it off. Eventually, it settled down and was happy steering a course, but I need to get to the bottom of why it was randomly veering off course.

The Sunset

The sunset on the way home was divine, the camera seriously didn’t do the view justice, so many shades of colours

TikTok highlights of the return

Maiden Voyage

September 19th, 2021 we finally managed to take Pamela C out under canvas for the first time since taking ownership back in June! Well under the Genoa as we’re still waiting for the new boom to be delivered.

Marine Traffic monitoring seems to work
First excursion into the bay

It was just a short trip out into Weymouth Bay, primarily to raise the Genoa and attach the jib sheets. This was a success and we sailed around a bit before returning to base.

With the Genoa fully out we were seeing a speed overground of some 5 knots with almost 0.5kts of tide against us, pretty good going considering only 10-12 knots of wind!

Genoa giving 5 knots on its own!

I managed to implement makeshift jib sheets from an old halyard I found in one of the lockers, it was exactly the right length to use as a single sheet with a (rather badly tied) butterfly knot in the middle. The jib sheet was surprisingly large, which is why I guess we were getting such good speeds from it …. the furling system wound easily at the drum, although I found some issues with friction on the line as it leads back to the cockpit and I’m currently working on the best way of alleviating this.

All in all, a good day!

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


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).


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.


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.


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)


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.


Boarding Rules

We the undersigned confirm and understand that sailing vessels and water can be a dangerous place, and agree not to hold the Owner/Captain (Jon Morby) or his delegates liable in the event of loss or injury under civil law where reasonable endeavours to maintain your safety have been taken. 

In addition, we agree to follow all safety-related instructions issued by The Captain or their delegate and understand that failure to comply with such instructions may result in you being asked to leave SV Pamela C with immediate effect. 

We understand that most days will be documented by video and/or photography and we grant Jon Morby full and irrevocable rights to use and re-publish said images on a royalty-free basis in perpetuity. 

Rules of the boat

  • Always traverse the companionway backwards
  • One hand for you, one for the boat AT ALL TIMES
  • Safety harnesses to be worn at night and/or when instructed. 
  • You can choose to wear a life jacket at any time.
  • Life jackets MUST be worn at night and when you are instructed to do so 
  • No alcohol or drugs to be consumed without the captain’s prior permission. 
  • Follow the safety briefing instructions at all times. 
  • NOTHING goes down the heads (toilets) that hasn’t been through your body. If you block the heads YOU will have to unblock them. (No toilet paper, no baby wipes, no tampons, etc)
  • Freshwater supplies are limited onboard. Exercise conservation techniques at all times. 

These terms are deemed to have been accepted when you board SV Pamela C

The Ten Commandments (stolen from Finbar Gittelman)

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 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

Frustrating day

Today was supposed to have been a day full of development and marketing skills .. instead, 2.5 hours were spent focussed on “building a website” which was basically everyone trying to work out what domain name they should register (and who they should register it with) and then what software / service they should use for their website.

I extolled the virtues of FidoNet (my old company) and showed everyone how easy it is to find and register a domain .. and two of us said how great and easy WordPress is to use and then showed how to set things up / etc.

After an hour of everyone faffing with (as someone said, it’s free and you can always move it later), everyone basically gave up and started using WIX saying how much easier WIX was to use than WordPress.

Just about sums up my life and why I need to move on from the hosting business. Everyone a) wants it for free and b) wants it to be so simple they don’t have to think about it. They don’t care that they’re tied into a provider who will bill them after a trial period, or seemingly care what it costs .. once they’ve built it … yet everyone still wants it for free … what an oxymoron.

Happy to pay for something that’s a black box, but break it down as services and it’s all too confusing. What a world we live in! 🙁