Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sailing away for the wrong reasons

There's many a sailor that's dreamed of sailing off to warm tropical waters. But its not a decision to take lightly, as was shown in a TV documentary broadcast on C4 this evening.

Gary Fisher (below) dreamed of exchanging his welding job in the run down and depressing (his word) north west of England for life on a boat in the Caribbean, beer in hand. First step was to buy his yacht, but after that his plans weren't so clear.

It wasn't sea worthy enough to cross the Atlantic, and there was an awful lot of work to be done plus a new rig and set of sails. He didn't have much money, couldn't sell the house - oh, and lets not forget (for he seems to at times) he had a wife and two children.

I felt for his long suffering wife Anne Marie (at top, having seen the "almost ready" boat) who was left with the children as Gary took the family to the brink not of adventure but bankruptcy and divorce. For he didn't have enough time and money to do the job, nor from what one can gather the planning and self-awareness skills that is so necessary for such a large task.

After two years the yacht only made it as far as Plymouth - and then only on the back of a lorry. His mates in the marina refused to sail the yacht down there and as Gary admitted - on a local radio show at that - he had no offshore sailing experience.

While doing the boat up in Plymouth Gary vanished for five days and later admitted to having an affair, leaving the marriage, let alone the voyage, on the rocks.

For at the end of the day Gary didn't want to sail to somewhere, he just wanted to get away from somewhere: away from being squeezed into a terraced house with two small kids and a job he didn't enjoy, and away from the grey skies of Liverpool.

It was a sorry tale of how the sail away dream can be all wrong: for balance another story tomorrow, but with a happier ending.


Tillerman said...

He should have got himself a Laser and gone racing on a local gravel pit every Sunday.

ChrisP said...

Of course he should, but it was THE DREAM.
God save us from dreamers. They expect total admiration because they have THE DREAM but they rarely achieve anything because they are dreamers and not doers, while inflicting monstrous damage on all around.

Tillerman said...

This sad story also makes me wonder how many of the ocean voyagers who succeeded and whom we do admire were driven, at least partly, by a desire to get away from boring, humdrum jobs, failing relationships etc.

JP said...

Tillerman: yes, I think a Laser would have been a better idea: not just cheaper but also a good psychological escape valve.

But as Chris points out, the problem was he didn't appear to be thinking things through, just focussing on his dream with tunnel vision to everything else. The tougher things got the more dream was important.

Ultimately you must be aware that when you sail away you will still be you and your family still be themselves.

Well initially at least, for no doubt the experience does change all involved.

Anonymous said...

The man has a dream, an achievable dream however his planning and time management skills appear to be lacking. I agree with Gary that you need to set a departure date but you also need a job completion time line. I admire his commitment and sympathize with his frustrations.

JP said...

I do wonder what happened next - maybe he learnt from the failures and second time round was more successful?

Trying to do a major task like that and have a day job and a family is a tough combination.