Winter it has passed…

Winter has revealed the fruits of my labour, the completion of my second sailing novel, ‘Seeking Wallander’. This true story features the voyage I made over the years 2013 to 2014, between Amsterdam and Lapland. The whole book took me nearly five years to complete, a labour of love, constantly interrupted by my continuing Saga.

My return to Scotland last November produced a constructive, restful and secure environment in which to complete the novel, my second in a saga that I hope to achieve before finally swallowing the anchor.

Soon it’s back to the Big Blue…

My website has always majored on the positive and was an attempt to empower those who had a dream somewhere inside that yearned to be manifest. My joy has been to witness the freeing of the shackles of one’s conditioning and see those who reach within to reclaim their true selves. It was no mistake to name my boat ‘Free’. That is the only value I give to my life for without that, what is there?

It is rare to still be in the UK this late in Spring, but these are rare times, a tentative attempt to cultivate an emotional root on land. I can no longer fool myself that this sailing life will last forever. I have had a wonderful journey, and have so few regrets, which is surely the way to live a good, simple life. Life is rough and tumble, right enough, but the wasted life is surely a sin. To be sure, I am more afraid of mediocrity and self-satisfied complacency than missing my footing and ending this life beneath the Baltic swell.

'Küken and Coffee'

Another delicious küken (cake) with my old pal, Rose in Germany.

Soon, I will visit my old pal Rose, in Germany, always a memorable and inspiring sojourn. After that, it will be time to face the music again. I have the idea of migrating slowly southwards, preferably without any distractions. Memories of last year’s disastrous grounding still lie heavy on my heart, and I so need to retrieve my confidence.

Tentatively, I dream of Poland and the traversing of the North of Germany by river and canal. I have crossed France and Belgium from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, and an East to West voyage would be a glorious memory to accompany a wee dram in front of my fire as an auld woman.

Two old sailors

I need to rekindle the confidence I had to navigate the remote northerly Åland Islands.

So there it is…

‘That’s me,’ as we say here in Scotland. This is my first post of 2019, my twelfth year of this Viking Saga. I feel Odin’s steely gaze and Freya’s fierce warrior spirit. They seem to say: Are you up for this?

I reply: “I’ll give it my best, as always, and with your support, I’ll continue this Saga.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

The last rose of summer.

This tumultuous year began with so much promise, transformed into a complete nightmare before being rescued by the Angel of Gävle, my friend Roger Lundqvist. What should have become a long voyage south into the German canal system instead became a long, lazy hot summer alongside the Gästhamn in Gävle where temperatures exceeded even Rome at one point, and half of Sweden burned under ferocious forest fires.


World-weary… Memories of Aktio in Greece when Free fell to a similar fate.

The damage from grounding my old friend on a rock is something one can get over in time; not so easy is the betrayal by a friend, or should I say one who appeared – né pretended to be one, having more than a little to do with my fatal lapse of concentration. Those of you who have sailed with me on the cyber sea throughout all these years will know that I am not one to allocate blame easily – yet try as I may, ownership this time remains very difficult. This is the nearest I have come to pure hatred for many years, and it embarrasses me to say it – but say it I must.


Lying at peace in Gävle Gästhamn before coming out for winter.

The Tao of existence is about the balance between the light and dark in an endless dance between form and formlessness; so for every misfortune comes good fortune, which of course pertains to my friend Roger and encourages me to understand that the previous three men in my life were gaslighters par excellence. All three seemed dedicated to undermining my already fragile confidence and almost had me fooled. Bless Roger, who has tirelessly validated me throughout the three years of our friendship.

After an anxious few weeks waiting to see if there was a place for Free in Fliskär boatyard, Roger once again led the vanguard, smiting the ‘jobsworth’ dragon of a manageress who seemed okay in leaving the poor old boat in the harbour to face the cruel Swedish winter in stark ice-bound slumber.


At last… safely ashore at Fliskär boatyard and ready for winter.

At last my poor old sister was liberated for a long sojourn while the winter gods and spirits began their inevitable invasion of Odin’s Realm. They will play around her keel and turn her insides into frigid stillness, but she is safe from the cruel ice and can sleep until the return of the sun.

Next year will be the twelfth in this saga and once again I will attempt to head south towards, Poland, the great River Oder, and the canals and rivers of Northern Germany. It would be very u wise to make any prediction as to possible success in this endeavour, but know that, in my heart, I will always try my hardest, even when all seems so impossible.

Contemplation of a travelling life

There have been no regrets. There have been catastrophes for sure, but that is the seagoing life. One has to endure anything that calls for courage. No one ever said that freedom comes without a cost, but it is an honest struggle which batters the sense of self into a more refined and tempered being, dare I say it – a spiritual one?

Winter will soon be upon the land, but as the years fly by, I find myself with no regrets and would not change a thing.

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

And so it goes…

How the years have flown…

This was the fifth time that Free has been lowered into the Gulf of Bothnia in as many years. How time has flown since 2013 when I crossed the northern sixty-degree parallel, venturing into waters so rarely visited by British sailors. I have never been interested in long ocean passages, or tropical paradises, rather the northerly reaches of our continent. How much is missed by those who follow the yacht highway to the south and west, Mediterranean and Caribbean? If only they knew what they were missing! And I’m in no hurry tell them, not that they’d take any notice of this old Viking and her unorthodox methods. Sure, I’ll never be able to teach anyone to sail like a Yachtmaster.


As north as it gets… Törehamn in the northern Gulf of Bothnia, 65º 40′ North.

Travelling is like a fine wine to savour, not the thrash and bang of modern ways with all the jet planes, hotels, and crowded tourism, but like it once must have been. Up here one can almost fade into the eternal, lose the sense of self and enter that infinite realm of the gods. Unfortunately, the return into teeming civilisation hits hard and my heart cries out once again for the call of solitude. Gods abide in the silence.

I know enough about life to realise that nothing lasts forever and that should this all become normality, it would surely detract from its glory. No, the time is approaching when a southerly voyage is probable, for the sake of a sacred memory of this wonderful saga. Can I pull myself away?

The silver thread

Is it possible to leave all this behind?

Time and time again I have decided to leave only to be lured back into my Scandinavian dream, but now there is a sense of wanderlust afoot. That old travelling bone is stirring again and I know it so well; this impulse that has run through my veins since being a child, from my hunger for the sailor’s life, through years of drifting around the world –  until now. I have never settled anywhere for very long and been typical for my Scots/Irish ancestors, a veritable wanderer.

The glorious present is a sun-soaked early summer after the long, beautiful harsh Swedish winter. Free appears to have survived it so well, although at times I feared for her condition as she lay under her brutal winter shroud. She never ceases to amaze me, my noble, brave little sailer, how she fights off everything that the elements can throw at her, almost as if Odin, himself was at the helm.

“Come on winter,” she seemed to say, “Show me what you’ve got…”


“Show me what you’ve got!” My brave friend said to the winter queen.

As the years go by, I find myself losing the ambition of the earlier part of my sailing life. Who cares where I go? Do I, even? One thing that I have learned in this life is it is the journey that matters, not the destination. My reasons for starting this saga was the result of a request from a friend, then it started to grow, despite the many times I have considered putting it to rest. Some wonderful cyber-folk have passed through the comments section and some still remain. If it has inspired one person then surely it was worth it. I have a feeling to sail around mid-June, but how many times before have I said that? Being a creature of spontaneity, I am likely to change my mind every other minute, so in real terms, anything could happen!

Next to Kevin on the Camino de Santiago. Will this be our reunion?

This year may see Kevin, my old friend from the Camino de Santiago, paying a visit. He expressed a desire to learn sailing, so it is possible that he may sail with me, although quite what he thinks he’ll learn, is open to interpretation. For many folks, living in a small, moving, cramped space and having to be ridiculously tidy is too much to cope with. However one never really knows until they try –  and perhaps Kevin will prove to be the exception to the rule.

The hot sunshine smiles down on the awakening land, now fully arisen from her winter slumber, and I am reminded of high summer. What a strange year it is becoming. Could this be a hot, endless summer after one of the coldest Swedish winters in years? Life is sweet with my friends here, Marie Sandin, Kjell-Arne Hollmo and many others who have made me so welcome. Sure, it would be sad to let them go, but the world is my family, and I have been blessed with a lovely one.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Born under a wandering star.

I remember from my childhood the song from a musical Paint your wagon where Lee Marvin sings the old classic, ‘I was born under a wandering star’. One particular line stands out in my memory and still rings true all these years later: Snow can burn your eyes but only people make you cry.

I was indeed born under a wandering star like my father before me and many sailing great uncles going back generations into the days of tall ships, where they sailed as the famous ‘Wild Geese’, the name given to the old wandering Irish sailors of yore. Their genes are within me and if I close my eyes in contemplation, the sounds and fragrance of the those old days haunts my deepest inner senses.


In Hudiksvall with my dear friend Marie who has opened the delights of Sweden in so many special ways.

Despite the nomadic nature of my existence, the value of friends has never been more important and I take those relationships very seriously. They are an important lifeline, perhaps even more so for a transitory being than one established within a supportive community with blood family.

The difference between aloneness and loneliness is significant and often confused in a world where many folk cannot bear the silence necessary to invoke healing and spiritual growth. The eternal television and radio noise fills those sustaining moments with an essence of avoidance, or unwillingness to meet the higher self or even each other. The eternal silence is where one meets one’s true self and begins the journey to enlightenment and true connection with God, or cosmic consciousness. A wandering sailor has to master the ability to be alone in the former sense, in complete harmony with the elemental realm; not just for spiritual health, but also to survive the rigours of seafaring with all its perils.


The importance of human contact is crucial to balance the ethereal nature of wandering alone in an elemental world, enabling a harmonious, balanced existence. I haven’t always been successful in the past, and found the adaption to seafaring life difficult in the early days, while weaning myself away from the surreal, apparent normality of modern existence.

The love of friends provides a safe anchorage for a solitary sailor and the smile and kindness of a human heart in a far off distant land is a priceless gift. Angelic intervention occurs in so many ways, for sure. The smile is a reminder of our common heritage as members of the human family – transcending the duality of the tribal, blood family with its exclusivity. The world is full of lonely, disconnected folk, many of whom need only the recognition that they are loved. Society at times seems to be so focussed on ambition that it forgets the sacred heart… the heart that loves all.


Mačit and son in Turkey back in 2007, welcomed me into their family.

My gratitude for all those wonderful folk I have met over the years throughout the world is huge. It is possible to live life without the need to fill every moment with stimulation, balancing it with those special gifts of friendship that transcend faith, language and culture.

Just smile at a stranger today and you will never know just how much value it has – but rest assured, the day may come when its reciprocation could save your life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Winter, the sailor and a tale of two voyages.

Gott nytt år, as they say here in the north of Sweden. A time to reflect…

In 2006 I cut my ties with what passes as normal in today’s world. I sold everything I owned and raised my middle finger to the managers in my work place; they couldn’t believe their luck to finally remove another irritant from the workforce. Phase two in this descent into madness consisted of buying and living on a boat, trusting everything to fate and leaping over the metaphorical cliff into the abyss – and what a deep hole it was; I didn’t stop falling until two years later, and some would say that I’ve yet to hit the bottom. Who knows? I certainly don’t. What I do know is that this Saga consists of more life in eleven years than in most of my previous existence.


A frozen live-aboard on the Thames in England 2009.

Many folk have a highly romantic vision of the life of a single-handed, live-aboard sailor. To be fair it does have a highly enchanting component, but a great deal of it is tough, unrelenting and downright dangerous; the sea is a savage mistress for her minions. There are very few sailors who really understand this, as most have homes and use their vessels for recreational periods in summer and the occasional jaunt in early spring and late autumn. From my experience I would estimate that the majority sail the counter in their club’s bar and talk sea miles. I don’t claim to be the world’ greatest sailor but I have had a lot of water under my keel these past ten years. There can never be a substitute for experience and no amount of crewing with others or collecting certificates from sailing schools can alter this. A single-handed sailor is just that – alone.

Rügen Storm

You just have to take the rough with the smooth.

Up here in Scandinavia, there is no option to live afloat in winter unless you have a highly expensive, well insulated craft and a huge amount of money for fuel. I have experienced three savage winters in Amsterdam and England where I lived aboard for the whole winter in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The temperatures dropped to minus twelve and although it was a grim battle to stay warm, it did finally end; however, up here in Northern Sweden temperatures often drop as low as minus 35°. This is a completely different scenario, not only for physical discomfort, but the solitude in a culture that hibernates around its family hearths leaving very little social life outside of the main festivals. It is a time requiring true mental toughness and stability. Poor old Free is just not up to the task, despite her strength and resilience in rough weather and reliable, faithful seaworthiness.


Winter in Colchester, England 2011. It took some spleen to get through it!

My experience these past eleven years has been that a live-aboard sailor’s life consists of two voyages: External – the one revealed to the interested party – and an internal version deep into the realm of the psyche, almost impossible to share unless your reader has been there. Sometimes a meeting of two experienced solo-saiIors involves periods of contented silence over a few beers. No words are needed.

I have had conversations with those who want to live this life, and have tended to avoid this part because one’s adult development into a worthy human being depends on the ability to take full responsibility for life, which in these days of ‘health and safety’, litigation and freeloading off the state, seem to be almost non-existent. One may as well be speaking in another language.

Mid Ionian, no wind!

It’s not always hard! Mediterranean 2007

To conclude, if one has the strength of character to exist on the periphery of modern ‘society’ and become highly integrated on an elemental level, then the life of a live-aboard sailor is worthwhile and highly satisfying. On reflection I feel so fortunate and privileged to have weathered the physical and psychological storms of this life. I would not have swapped it for the world of comfort and illusory security, even during the worst moments. I have witness so much procrastination and quiet, polite despair in this modern world; folk drowning in self-delusion.

When my time comes, whether on my deathbed or out there in the ‘Big blue’, I will know that I have lived life to the full as a viking would have.

How many can say that?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Now is the winter of my content.

I love winter; it gives value to the other seasons. The North is my passion with its constant change and fusion into panoramic hues. The fjords are a wonderful contrast of deciduous silver birch with their surrendering foliage and the resilient, lush spruce. I can only stand in blissful awe of Odin’s sylvan palette.

OneThe sweltering, tropical heat with its predictable sunset curfew, plunging all into darkness is not for me, neither are the sudden, violent storms and a barometer that hardly seems to move at all.

Many of my Swedish friends have been disappointed by a somewhat temperamental summer, which is understandable, considering the prolonged darkness of the normal Scandinavian winter; but for me it has been like a typical northern British summer and some lovely coastal sailing on the Jungfrukusten (Maiden’s Coast).


I have sailed just over three hundred and fifty nautical miles this year, in challenging, gusty conditions with delightful sojourns in Hudiksvall and Söderhamn; a pleasing balance of solitude and conviviality with friends and complete strangers.


I could not have asked for more as the eleventh year of my Saga ends.

Winter will soon soon cast her cloak upon the land and Free shall lie on her cradle to slumber until the sun returns next year. Now a new challenge awaits me with a Swedish winter in the village; a small apartment above my friend Micke’s house.


The gods will play in the heavens as the winter spirits dance on the land and I shall witness with reverence, this timeless ecstasy, a blessing to behold.

I would be lying to tell you that this sailing life is easy or always blissful. Of course it isn’t. There have been times when my body flirted with its breaking point, blood running down my hands from flailing ropes under full sail, my back wrenched into agony. And yet, would I have replaced it all?

And the solitude? A singlehanded sailor has to be mentally tough, for there is no one else to blame in those moments of total chaos when life hangs in the balance. But the aloneness becomes integral and percolates through one’s being, liberating the need to seek happiness outside of the self.

There is true unity with the divine this way.




Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments


Sailing is not a life for the squeamish. It’s one thing to relax in a light Mediterranean breeze with a group of friends on your holidays, but a completely different situation to be single-handed in a near gale, heavily reefed up, knowing that a single mistake could be your last.


Finally meeting Per-Olof (Pelle). The epitome of the single-handed sailor.

I was fortunate and privileged to finally meet Per-Olof (Pelle), from Göteborg. He has been sailing alone for years and we became friends on the internet via our blogs. The chances of actually meeting were very small, but it finally happened, right here in Borka!

Pelle has been to some amazing places that I can only dream about visiting, including Shetland and the far north of Norway, Nordkapp itself, the furthest northerly point in Europe. A very impressive portfolio. Pelle’s Blog

Listening to his adventures was a wonderful way to wile away an afternoon, culminating in a kind offer to share an evening meal in the restaurant.


Pelle’s faithful yacht, the conquerer of the northern seas!

I must admit to being enchanted by Pelle’s tales of northern sailing and felt the rumbling of awakening deep within. Dreams of a possible voyage north to Norway? If I’m honest, ten years has been a long time to be sailing alone and I have often considered finally swallowing the anchor, but listening to Pelle’s experiences has made me reflect somewhat.


Pelle up near Nordkapp, way north of the Arctic Circle. He kindly permitted me to use the photograph to demonstrate the quality of polar light.

Is there still time to make an epic voyage up the coast of Norway to the top of Europe? Somehow I doubt it. I’ve had many experiences further south and been close-hauled to potential disaster so often that I am rather enjoying this relaxing time among the good folk of Borka as I enter my sixties. Do I really need anymore adventuring? No one knows what the future brings or where the inspiration comes from. These days, a sense of peace and harmony has descended upon me, detachment from humanity’s apparent fall into madness.


Gentle sailing on the Jungfrukusten, coffee in the restaurant and a chance to relax and chat with wonderful friends, is a sweet way to spend these summer days in the far north, where the air is fresh and the sky clear of chemtrails with the constant drone of aircraft.

Maybe the world is designed for us to find our way to what is true, through adversity, and that happiness is in fact the reason for living.

I’ll settle for that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments