Inspiration – Jedidiah Jenkins

There have been many small moments over the past few years (perhaps my whole life) that have led to this point of leaving my job, my home and any security for a life on the road (and sea).

One moment, a few years ago now, was watching this video about Jedidiah Jenkins’ bicycle trip from Oregon to Patagonia.

A lot of what he says resonated with me. I too felt like I was moving steadily along a career path that I loved, but that routine was robbing me of my sense of adventure and that life was rushing past me.

I wanted to re-wire my brain before it was too late, break out of the routine and train myself to seek new and scary experiences and feel alive.

I didn’t know then what shape that re-wiring would take. I joked about cycling from Colyton (where I lived) to Cape Town (partly because of the alliteration). I would have laughed out loud if anyone suggested I’d be about to sail across the Atlantic.

“Once your brain establishes a routine, the alertness goes away… I want to be aware of every day I am alive. I want to make it to 85 and be exhausted.”

Jedidiah Jenkins

A vague plan

Setting off from the UK at the end of December, I am working my way slowly south to join a boat sailing from Lanzarote to Martinique in February. From there, I plan to crew on different boats around the Caribbean for a few months, before finding a boat sailing back to Europe in time for the summer. By then, I hope I’ll know if buying a boat to live on is a good idea… (and have some of the skills and experience with which to do so)

But who knows where the wind might take me – maybe I’ll be back in the UK with my mermaid’s tail between my legs in March, or maybe I’ll just keep sailing in towards the Pacific?!

How did I get here? A summary

Sunday 29th December

On a coach from Bournemouth to London

Earlier this year, whilst walking the south west coastpath alone in March, I came up with the idea for a podcast (“Rewilding Yourself”) with me taking time around my full time job to rewild myself through wild swims, weekends walking and bivvying on the coast path, contrasted with my friend Ben’s slightly wilder approach, living in his van on the north coast of Spain, just a short hop over the Bay of Biscay. Both of us in search of nature, of the wildness in our souls and around us. The idea was that anyone can take time to get outside, appreciate nature and push our own boundaries, whether they have a full time job or the freedom to live on the road. The more we slow down and open our eyes to nature, the more we notice and the more we care. Through sharing our experiences with others we might inspire them to seek their own joy and care for nature too.

At the time, I could only imagine having a full time job and fitting my rewilding time around my working life. I never did start the podcast. But here I am, my belongings in a bag at my feet, with no job and no house. At the beginning of a journey with no known destination.

At the beginning of 2019, I set myself the challenge of walking the 300ish km of southwest coast path I hadn’t yet walked, between Seaton, Devon and Mevagissey, Cornwall, before I turned 30 in July. It wasn’t a challenge too far out of my comfort zone; I’d walked parts of the coast path before, in stretches of 1-10 days. I’d camped out in tents and bivvy bags, and carried my food and water. I knew I could physically do it, it was more about prioritising the time.

By March, two walks in, I decided to spend a week cycling and wild camping around Malta, by myself. I’m not sure if I’d ever wild camped alone before. I don’t think I had. But doing it with friends before (initially with experienced friends, then taking newbies with me), gave me the confidence to know that I could do it.

As I walked and cycled, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, I considered my plans to buy a house, decided it was far too expensive, and instead planted the seed of living on a boat. I watched them sailing away towards the horizon as I carried my bags up and down steep hills. I could take a boat with me, no more hills, I could travel back to Malta without having to fly.

In May, I went to a ‘push the boat out’ taster weekend at my local yacht club. That weekend I called the number on a For Sale sign on a yacht I saw moored in Cornwall. I ended up going to view it with someone I met at a friend of a friend’s mum’s birthday party… I was ready to buy it, but some people suggested maybe I go out on a sailing boat first…

Fortunately, on my next coast path walk in June, I met a man at a bus stop who offered me a day’s sailing with him when he got back east towards where I lived. I sailed with Steve from Weymouth to Poole one day in July, experienced my first leisurely sail and then heeling over, tied my first clove hitches and thought it was fun enough to do more of.

In August, I spoke to friends who suggested that crewing on other people’s boats might be a good way to learn and try out different boats before I buy one.

In September, I booked and completed a week’s Competent Crew course in Falmouth. Still no seasickness. Still thought boats were a good idea.

In October, I handed in my notice at work. In December, I set off.

Things have snowballed slightly…

So I think that is what rewilding yourself and pushing your boundaries will do for you. Open your eyes to greater opportunities. Make the impossible seem possible. Allow time and space to dream, and for dreams to become reality.