Monday 24 April 2017

A Lifetime Ambition

What do you do once you have achieved your lifetime ambition?  25 years ago I decided that I wanted to buy an Oyster and sail across the world’s oceans; and last year, in the company of family and good friends that’s what we did.

We crossed the Atlantic Ocean, through the Panama Canal, then into the Pacific Ocean.  We sailed to those exotic locations I used to dream about: The Marquesas, Tuamotos, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Tonga , Fiji, Vanuatu and eventually Queensland, Australia. And now, all too quickly, the great adventure is over. 

After years of researching, planning and dreaming; on the commuter train to London, in boring business meetings my mind wandering to thoughts of the South Pacific, not really daring to believe that one day it might be possible.  For years it was just a dream; endless visits to boat shows; the long suffering brokers at Oyster showing us boats that were way outside our budget. In fact I didn’t even have a budget, just a determination and a belief that somehow it would work out. The brochure of an Oyster 55 languished in the top drawer of my office desk for 20 years, a beacon that drew me on when times were tough and the dream started to fade. 

Then came the dawning realisation that the dream might actually be possible and instead of idle visits to boat shows we went to Oyster's Headquarters in Ipswich and were given a tour of the yards in Norfolk where these machines are built. I had to pinch myself, still not really believing that this could turn into reality. The craftsmen cutting each plank of teak decking, offering it up, a frown of displeasure, a rub of sandpaper, another adjustment and finally the perfect fit. To see this level of craftsmanship and detail just made me salivate – the hardest thing was keeping the smile off my face.

Then we found Juno. Almost new, rejected by her owner who wanted a bigger boat, less than a year old, she became available just as we were in a position to buy. I found myself sitting in the Oyster conference room with Caroline, making an offer for an obscene amount of money and a few days later the offer was accepted and Juno was ours, subject to survey.  Gulp. The surveyor, who had supervised the build of Juno, simply said ‘she’s a new boat, in fact she is better than a new boat’ – then added with a conspiratorial grin ‘but we won’t tell Oyster that’.

And so the adventure began. I still relive that journey, savouring every experience, every encounter.  More than anything I remember the constant company of my gorgeous Fatty, the wicked wit of Saz, the joyous company of Kez, the enthusiasm of Consuelo and Paulus and the steady unwavering support of Andrew.  I also savour the visits from Jamie and Lucie and then all our friends from the world ARC. Our satellite tracker was switched on when we bought Juno in 2011 and has followed our route ever since. Click here to see our tracks.   In case you were wondering, The route through the Suez Canal back from Australia was on the deck of a freighter.

This winter Caroline and I have been making plans. I mooted the idea of selling Juno but the prospect was too awful to consider and I am pleased to say that Fatty would hear none of it. So instead we have been planning the next episode - a new ambition, of which more very soon.


  1. excitedly waiting news of the next chapter,

    lots of love from Nichola, Caspar, Bluebell, Columbus and Willow xxxxx

  2. Hehe - the decision to mute the plans to sell Juno, rather than moot them, was clearly a winning tactic! N

  3. I've missed the blogs- looking forward to seeing you when you're back!

  4. Dear Paul & Caroline, we hope Juno is going to sail for a long time, explore and gain new memories, and not placed on the market. also hope that we able to sail together with us, we had the most fantastic winter spend here in Palma, meeting YOU and other nice new friends.
    See you soon Love, Lars & Anna +svante

    1. Now I am excited to hear more..