49. Manannan Mac Lir

30 years ago (can it really be THAT long!) during the Iran/Iraq war as I finished my appointment as the HMS BOXERNavigating Officer of HMS BOXER,  I was presented with a hip flask engraved Vasco Ginstanley. Naturally it was full. Quite how I got it through customs given that I was flying home from the Middle East is, as they say, another story. Sadly HMS BOXER was sunk as a target in 2004 and, rather like me, the hip flask has, three decades on, seen better days!


My Navigating and my gin drinking continued.

I now collect individual gin bottles, notably having first emptied them thanks, at least in part, to “help” from family and friends. I’ll save you trying to count – the “empties” currently total 52 individual bottles.



I have an additional 21 bottles (above) in various stages of being  “emptied” with a little help from the same band of willing volunteers. The latest edition to my “collection” is worthy of particular mention given its unique nautical/seagoing connections in this “year of Clipper”; a gin called Manannan Mac Lir.


Manannan Mac Lir sculpture by John Sutton at Gortmore, Magilligan, County Londonderry

Manannan Mac Lir (“son of the sea”) is a sea god and psychopomp in Irish mythology. A psychopomp is a creature, spirit, angel or deity whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but to simply guide them. Manannan Mac Lir also appears in Scottish and Manx legend. He is said to own a boat named Scuabtuinne (“wave sweeper”), a sea-borne chariot drawn by the horse Enbarr (“water foam”), a powerful sword named Fragarach (“the answerer” ), and a cloak of invisibility.

Not for the first time ……. alcohol that makes a sailor think he is invisible!

tugg_wilson_iWith particular thanks to Kate, Tom, Hugh and http://www.microdistillery.co.uk 🙂



48. My Next Sailing ……. but one……….. and a little something for Lord of the Rings fans!

Ok, so my next Clipper sailing will be Level 3 training between 13-18 March in a Clipper 68 or 70 yacht in the English Channel but my NEXT BUT ONE will be with students from the Walton Hall Academy and with the Cirdan Trust onboard a vessel called the Queen Galadriel.


A week or so ago, at the invitation/introduction of a mutual friend, I met the Principal of Walton Hall Academy. Walton Hall is situated in a rural setting just outside Eccleshall in Staffordshire, and is about a mile and a half from where I live. Walton Hall itself is an Italian style 19th century country house built in about 1848 for Henry Killick who was High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1862 and the Academy utilises the Hall and a number of other buildings, some purpose built, on the site. Walton Hall Academy is part of the Shaw Education Trust. It is quite a unique academy with extensive grounds and  outstanding vocational resources and it caters for students between 11 and 19 with a wide range of special educational needs including autism, emotional and learning difficulties some having complex learning, sensory and associated medical needs. The Academy has specialised provision for meeting the needs of students for whom a mainstream school would have difficulty in meeting these needs. The Academy prides itself on helping young people with a range of special educational needs and disabilities to achieve their full potential

The Cirdan Sailing Trust specialises in enabling groups of young people, particularly those who are disadvantaged in some way, to experience the challenge and adventure of lfe at sea on large sailing vessels. The Cirdan Trust was founded in 1983 to serve young people predominantly in the southeast of England and the Faramir Trust in 1991 to do the same for those of the northeast. In 2002 the two trusts were conjoined under the title of The Cirdan Sailing Trust. Both Trusts were founded and endowed by the Rev Bill Broad who inherited a small fortune from his father, R L Broad, an outstandingly successful insurance tycoon at Lloyds of London. Rev Bill was convinced that sailing in groups was a sure way of encouraging the development and motivation of young people. Partly for his services to this cause, Bill was made a Canon of Durham Cathedral in 1994 and was awarded the Beacon Fellowship Prize for Family Philanthropy in 2006. He is quoted as saying, “It is easy for the well-off and reasonably educated to choose their occupation and gain the good things in life. But for the unfortunate and disadvantaged this is often impossible. Sailing on well equipped and well managed historic vessels gives them a new vision in life.”

Both Trusts were named after characters in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” – Cirdan, the lesser known character, is the shipwright in the trilogy. The Tolkien theme continues with Queen Galadriel and Faramir as ships of the Cirdan fleet and the present day Cirdan logo includes a design which represents the seven stars and the white tree of Gondor.

The aim is that all students take an active part in running the vessel both above and below decks,and that the experience can help build the traits and skills necessary to underpin success in education, employment and life in general including confidence, resilience, motivation, tolerance and team spirit.

The Queen Galadriel is a gaff rigged ketch built originally in 1937 at Svenborg in Denmark. She was originally called Else after the first Captain’s daughter. The Queen Galadriel is 24m long and has a masthead height of 27.8m. She traded as a cargo vessel around the coasts of Denmark and Norway, first as a motor sailor but after 1956 under motor alone. In 1983 she was bought by the Cirdan Trust, extensively restored and re-rigged and in 1984 she entered service as Queen Galadriel.


So, joining in Poole and disembarking in Falmouth I will have enough time ….. JUST ….. to get home and sorted before Clipper Crew Allocation Day in Portsmouth on 11 May. Wish me luck!


47. The Circumnavigators Story

Ok so I’m NOT sailing around the world. But for me, the 4 big west to east ocean crossings; The South Atlantic, The Southern Ocean, The North Pacific and The North Atlantic are my circumnavigation, my Everest, my out-of-the-comfort zone physical and psychological challenge. There will be about 8 amateurs in each yacht completing the ENTIRE 40,000 mile, 11 month, 15 or so ports round the world race. Here are the thoughts of a few of them who have gone before …………


46. Making Waves for Children – UNICEF


UNICEF is the official charity of  the 2019-2020 Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, as they were for the previous edition of the Race, in which the UNICEF yacht also raced. Like many of my fellow Race Crew I am raising money for charities close to my heart. I’ve written previously about my personal connection with the National Autistic Society (See Blog 35: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ….. and The Reason I Jump, published 26 Nov 18) and I’ll write more about my other chose charity, Diabetes UK, in subsequent blogs. But, again like many of my fellow racers, I will also be joining in Fleet-wide fund raising efforts for the Race chosen charity – UNICEF – and will have the opportunity to visit UNICEF projects.


Before my involvement with Clipper I was aware of some of the work undertaken by UNICEF but now I already know so much more and it has been good to listen to speakers from UNICEF at the Little Ships Club in London back in January 2018 and Kate Cotton, the Senior Programme Management Specialist for UNICEF UK, at the Clipper Race Crew and Supporters event at Lord’s cricket ground last month.

UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) was formed on 11 December 1946 to meet the emergency needs of children in post-war Europe, China and the Middle East. Soon they were feeding 5 million children in 12 countries. In 1950 their task was broadened to address the long-term needs of children everywhere. In 1965 UNICEF received the Nobel Peace Prize for work in “liberating hundreds of millions of children from ignorance, disease, malnutrition and starvation.”

Still today too many children are in danger because they don’t have the food they need to live and grow. Every 12 seconds, a child somewhere in the world dies because of malnutrition. That’s 25 children in the 5 minutes its going to take you to read this blog to the end. Of those that survive, millions have to live with the effects for the rest of their lives because their bodies and brains haven’t developed the way they should. UNICEF provides 80% of the world’s supply of life-saving food for malnourished children. They help mothers and communities keep their children healthy and well nourished. UNICEF has helped reduce the number of children affected by malnutrition by nearly 100 million since 1990.

In the 1970s UNICEF pioneered training volunteers in local communities to help meet children’s basic needs. In the 1980s, they led the child survival revolution that focused on preventing the deaths of some 15 million children each year from easily preventable illnesses such as measles or diarrhoea.

Too many children are in danger from deadly, yet preventable, diseases. Measles, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, diphtheria and whooping cough – the killer six – are all easily and cheaply preventable by immunisation. UNICEF is the world’s leading supplier of vaccines for children, providing vaccines for one in three of the world’s children. But millions more are still in danger. Every day 16,000 children under 5 die, usually because they don’t gert the health care and life-saving vaccines they need.

In 1989 governments worldwide promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This Convention is the basis for all of UNICEF’s work. Every 5 minutes a child dies because of violence. Across the world, in war zones, on the streets of violent cities, in their own homes and schools, children are facing an epidemic of violence. UNICEF helps to provide psychosocial support for children. They also work with governments to strengthen national child protection systems and with communities to make sure that violence against children is considered unacceptable.

In the 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, UNICEF again found itself protecting children affected by poverty, disease and war in Europe. From Syria and Iraq to South Sudan and Central African Republic, war and conflict turn millions of children’s lives upside down. Torn from everything they know, they are left vulnerable to dangers, from disease and malnutrition to violence and exploitation. UNICEF provide life-saving food, clean water, medicines, protection and psychosocial support to children whose lives have been devastated by the effects of war and conflict.

When disaster strikes, children are hardest hit. Whether it’s a flood, an earthquake or a typhoon, so many lose everything – their homes, their families, even their lives. In an emergency situation, UNICEF is there to provide everything from life-saving supplies to clean water and sanitation, schooling, nutrition and emotional support. In 2016 UNICEF provided 2.3 million children with psychosocial support to help them overcome trauma.

In the 21st century, UNICEF continues to help protect children in danger and transforms their lives. Whether it is natural disaster, war or poverty, UNICEF works tirelessly to keep every child safe. UNICEF UK raises vital funds for UNICEF’s work to protect children around the world, and works to change government policies and practices that restrict child rights. Their three programmes in the UK work to protect and promote the rights of UNICEF20children and young people. The UK Baby Friendly Initiative http://www.babyfriendly.org.uk works to ensure mothers have the best possible support to breastfeed, and families are supported to develop loving and nurturing relationships with their babies. UNICEF UK’s Child Rights Partners programme http://www.unicef.org.uk/crp works with local government to put children’s rights at the heart of public service. The Rights Respecting Schools Award http://www.unicef.org.uk/rrsa works with thousands of schools across the UK to improve well-being and help all children realise their rights.

There will be an opportunity in just about every stopover for Clipper Race Crew to work to support UNICEF and UNICEF activities. Clipper race crew have raised over £700,000 over the past two editions of the Race and we hope to break the £1M barrier in the 2019-2020 edition. So how can you help?


For every £1 given to UNICEF, 70p is spent on programmes for children, 29p is spent to raise another £1 and 1p (only 1p) is spent on governance. UNICEF UK relies entirely on gifts from individuals:


and their fundraising work with more than 20 leading companies http://www.unicef.org.uk/corporate. UNICEF receives no money from the UN budget.