Sailing for a Cause: My Unforgettable Journey Around Britain

Last week, our Fundraising Manager Victoria took a week away from the office to be apart of our leg 2 crew of sailors sailing #TeamElla's boat Monet around Britain. Victoria writes about what it is like to take part in such an incredible fundraiser!

Raising awareness and funds for The Ella Dawson Foundation was an honour. The journey was definitely challenging yet incredibly rewarding, and I shared it with an extraordinary team of hardworking individuals. This trip was more than just sailing; it was overcoming obstacles and fears, experiencing nature's raw beauty, and contributing to a worthy cause. I will cherish these memories forever and feel grateful for having had the opportunity to be part of this remarkable adventure.

Last week, I embarked on an extraordinary adventure: sailing around Britain to raise funds for The Ella Dawson Foundation. This remarkable charity supports young people diagnosed with cancer and their carers and families by providing unique well-being support. The journey was not just about the destination but the incredible experiences along the way, each moment etched into my memory forever. 

Setting Sail: Newcastle to Amble 

Our journey began on a Sunday when I arrived at the boat and was greeted by our wonderful skipper, Adam, who will be himself single-handedly sailing around the world in December. Along with our three other crew members, we set sail on Monday morning, embarking on the second leg of the Sail Round Britain fundraiser from Newcastle to Inverness. After a short five hours at sea, we reached our first stop, a quaint marina called Amble. Naturally, we decided to "amble" around, soaking in the tranquil atmosphere stopping to see the boat our skipper has hand built to sail round the world! 

On Tuesday, we set sail early in the morning towards Arbroath. Bundled up in eight layers of clothing to combat the cold, we made a brief stop at the Farne Islands for lunch. The sight of puffins, gannets, guillemots, and seals playing in the water was a delightful distraction. Journeying the 24-hour passage, we took turns on night watch. A thick fog rolled in around dusk, making it very challenging to navigate, with wind turbines appearing out of nowhere like watchful guardians of the sea. The 1.5-meter swells, combined with sleep deprivation, tested our endurance for sure. However, when the fog briefly lifted, and the first rays of sunshine touched our skin, it felt as though I were a plant stirring into life after a long and cold winter making the struggle feel entirely worthwhile. 

A Hairy Arrival in Arbroath 

Crossing the Scottish border in the early hours, the fog thickened, and navigation became even harder. Arriving at Arbroath was an adventure in itself; we only realized we were at the harbour walls when we were almost on top of them! With no way of seeing our guiding lights and thanks to our excellent helmsman, Maarten, what felt like a perilous arrival was executed with ease. Exhausted, we headed straight for a full Scottish breakfast before exploring the quaint village of Arbroath for the day, basking in the glorious sunshine, peppered with snacks, naps and laughs. We ventured out yet again in the evening for the local delicacy, the smokie, a delightful treat at a local pub. 

From Arbroath to Peterhead 

Sadly, we had to say farewell to two crew members who experienced unrelenting seasickness, a reminder of the sea's unforgiving nature. Setting sail once again on the next passage to Peterhead we were greeted with calmer seas and a playful pod of dolphins as we left the harbour. The fog rolled away, like the curtains of a play, revealing the rugged Scottish coastline, which looked like a scene from Jurassic Park. As the weather improved, and the layers dropped off we enjoyed the sunshine reflecting off the vast, deep blue ocean. Despite experiencing another bout of seasickness, the stunning scenery and camaraderie kept our spirits high and hearts warm. 

A Peaceful Passage to Whitehills 

Navigating the maze-like pontoons around the marina to the shower block, we settled in clean and refuelled for a restful night. From Peterhead we set sail for Whitehills where my sea-legs must’ve been hiding the whole time. Hoisting the sails and turning off the engine, relying solely on the wind, was a liberating experience. The serene sound of the sea and the occasional call of seabirds made for an overdue peaceful journey. Whitehills, a charming little village known for its famously small marina accompanied by a brilliant harbourmaster, welcomed us with its warm hospitality and delicious fish and chips. 

Our final passage to Inverness started under yet another veil of fog. However, with seasickness behind me, I eagerly made cups of tea for the crew and excitedly did some washing up! As we neared the Moray Firth, the fog lifted, revealing stunning mountains to our right and a herd of lazy seals lined up on our left (who in my mind were munching on some salty popcorn, gossiping while scrutinising our entrance). Maarten skilfully navigated the varying water depths, guiding us safely as we inched closer to our final destination. We killed the engine one last time and breezed into Inverness marina with sails full and hearts fuller. Lying on the bow of the boat, enveloped in sails goosewinged either side of me, gazing at the majestic mountains, was one of the most magical moments of my life.