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Day 254

By Brian Hancock

I could not bring myself to leave you sailors, diplomats, scoundrels and followers of the Ocean Globe Race with an image of Don walking the hills above Les Sables-d’Olonne wearing loose fitting pyjamas looking for his pigeons. Instead I am leaving you with one of my favourite fictional characters; Heathcliff (when he was young and happy and not old and cantankerous.) There, of course, is Cathy (err Jane) trying her best to convince him that France won’t build a new marina on the Yorkshire Moors no matter how hard he persists. That’s Don and Jane for you; always dreaming, and you just never know. There is room for a vast marina but access to the North Sea is, well, limited.

No, indeed, I still needed to say thank you to all involved from those that followed the race, those that organised the race and those intrepid sailors who did the actual sailing. It must have been four years or so when out of the blue I got a call from Don. I had never met him but his reputation was already hanging there on one of those “Wanted – Dead or Alive” posters that can be found at the Post Office. 

Don came straight to the point. He asked if I would be interested in helping him tell the story of his new around-the-world race. A retro Whitbread race if you will. He did not come right out and say it, but like the great explorer Bill Tilman, the implication was simple; there would be no pay, very dim prospects, and a path sometimes fraught with an unknown future. I was in without giving it much thought.

The idea would be that I would write a weekly or bi-weekly report on how things are going, but for those of you that know me it has to be all or nothing, so all it was. I think I wrote over 250 updates, each one a pleasure. The only issue I had was that this was not my race. I was not the one getting a cold, wet arse, day after day, week after week all in pursuit of a dream. I was on the outside looking in having sailed the course a few times. It is, however, quite a challenge to write something new and fresh each and every day so I tried to balance things with a few personal anecdotes. I hope that you enjoyed my interjections and digressions and they didn’t take away from the ‘real’ racers.

I have been extremely gratified by how many people read my drivel pretty much daily, and I believe that my stories added some colour to this wonderful event both for those reading and those participating. The ones that were head down changing sails with water coming up from behind like a washing machine that had spun off its rails. For those on land I truly appreciate you taking a small part of each day to follow Don on the tracker, to enjoy Jane and Aida’s photography, to read the tweets coming in off the boats and to breathe in the experience of it all. By the way I will keep doing a sailing column on offshore sailing probably on a monthly basis to keep you amused and engaged and hopefully out of trouble.

My real (day) job is that of a full-time writer – well it is now since my sailmaking business took a dive during Covid so I hope that you will support me. I think that I have written around 20 books, some not yet published. In the last few years I wrote three novels, two books of short stories, five children’s books and some poetry even though I can’t stand poetry (too convoluted). My websit www.brianhancockbooks.com is being renovated (just like me) but shortly the books will all be available in soft cover, hard cover, eBook and if I am able to raise the funds, as audio books. And yes Don and I have flirted with the idea of a joint venture to do a book on the OGR.

Tapio Lehtinen, the indomitable skipper of Galiana WithSecure had his whole crew read my memoir and they loved it (apparently). Peter Ridgeway, a fan and follower of the OGR, has been recommending my books to any and all who show an interest in reading, so I urge you to join them.

Take a look at my website, chuck a few bucks my way – I promise that the books are fun, fast reads including my two memoirs that were revamped and republished. There is even a way for you to buy me a cup of coffee. A few bucks and a click on a button on the website and I get a payment, however small. It all helps.

Two last things. First, I have been extremely privileged to have been a part of this wonderful event. Second, my health is teetering. Turns out I picked up a rare virus in Costa Rica a few years ago and it went undetected, slowly eating away at my body and my spirit. To compensate for feeling crappy I may (or may not) have managed to finish most of a bottle of vodka most days (I am not proud of it but there you go.) I am totally sober now, have not touched a drop in months, but the virus and vodka did a number on my liver so for now that is my immediate challenge.

Thanks again everyone, it has been an honour, privilege and a pleasure.

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