With 2020 at last behind us it’s time to look forward with hope and optimism that the island adventure called Yodare can once again set sail against the ill winds of Covid. Nearly all of the plans for 2020 were decimated by the pandemic and on a very personal note we lost one of our most loved friends to a brain tumour in 2020. That event really brought home to me the importance of successfully completing this challenge and raising that £50,000 target. Cancer will still unfortunately be with us long after Covid has hopefully departed and with the funding for these two great charities being decimated by the fallout from Covid it is more important than ever to help raise funds for them and the amazing job that they do.
So its been a busy winter trying to stay fit and get the planning done for the islands in 2021. It feels strange doing all this preparation when it might all be for nothing if the covid situation continues well in to 2021, but without doing the planning now I wouldn’t be prepared for the multitude of challenges I’ll be facing this year. So fingers crossed that some of the plans come to fruition and here’s a quick snapshot of some of the amazing places I’ll hopefully be sailing around in 2021.
One of the first challenges in 2021 will be the largest island of the entire challenge, Anglesey. Admiral Lord Nelson used the challenging Menai Straits to hone his sailing skills and said ” If you can sail the Menai Straits you can sail anywhere” – so I’m looking forward to its challenges. Anglesey is so big that it’s going to take two really long says of sailing to round it, along with the multitude of islands that surround it. Continuing further north from Anglesey I’m also hoping to take on the Farne Islands, home to thousands of puffins and the most Northern islands of the entire challenge.
May takes Yoda over to the East coast of England and the low lying islands of Essex. Heavily tidal and very muddy, they present some of the hardest islands to circumnavigate due to the short periods that the waterways are actually deep enough to be sailable. Added to those challenges is the need to sail through the Ministry Of Defence ranges at Shoebryness. I’ll need to avoid any active times when firing is taking place and to get two bridges raised to pass safely underneath them. Never straight forward this adventure thing!
Just off the 12km off the Suffolk coast lies one of the strangest islands on this challenge, Sealand. This abandonned sea fort has been an independent micronation since 1967 and was once home to a pirate radio station. You can even get a Sealand passport!
May hopefully also takes us to the most populated island of the Yodare adventure, Portsea Island, home to Portsmouth and Southsea. Its a big island with two narrow tidal entrances, but the biggest challenge is the multitude of bridges that Yoda will need to pass under. It’s going to be a case of mast down and a few kilometres of paddling to get under the SEVEN bridges. Here’s a video of my SUP trip to check out the bridges around Portsea Island.
June will be one of the most difficult months as the focus turns to South Wales and the islands off the Pembrokeshire coast. With strong tides and rock formations called “The Bitches”, it gives you an idea of just how tricky this is going to be to sail. Research and timing of the tides will be the key to success here and if the conditions aren’t just right we may well have to postpone some of these islands – not an easy decision.
The biggest adventure of 2021 in terms of islands sailed in one trip will hopefully be the Scillies. This is my third attempt to get there and each time circumstances beyond my control have prevented me from making it to this island sailing nirvana. Yoda will be shipped to the island on the ferry (a new experience for Yoda!) and then there is an entire week of island bagging sailing to be done, weather permitting. I’m really excited about this part of the adventure but sailing in the Atlantic Ocean brings its own challenges.
The rest of the year there are some more opportunities for island sailing, but until we have a better idea on how or when the covid restrictions will be eased we are leaving those plans on hold, especially as the dates might be needed if any of the above plans get cancelled.
I’ve felt so uplifted by the kind offers of support from so many people during this long planning winter and with the donations still coming in that massive target of £50,000 is inching every closer. It now feels almost within touching distance. So whatever happens in 2021 you can be certain I will be pushing this adventure forwards as much as circumstances and safety will allow. We will get there.
Stay safe and enjoy following the adventure.