My original plan for the 2017 season was a cruise through Holland, Keil Canal, Swedish Archipelago, Gota Canal, over the top of Scotland, Dublin and back to the south coast.

I was facing some adjustments to the plan as two of my regular and dependable crew have unfortunately ruled themselves out until further notice on health grounds. After nearly 15 years in the Med with the Jeanneau, I am very familiar with trying to dovetail crew flights and destinations and it aint easy. I have ‘single handed’ before and found the experience both enjoyable and fulfilling but clearly, the Canals need crew. It would also be prudent before committing to a five day solo passage across the North Sea, to have at least tried sailing single handed overnight and probably several consecutive nights. Having twice ‘cheated’ through the Caledonian Canal on UK circumnavigations, the prospect of going over the top is still compelling but I am thinking this will have to wait and the Baltic will still be there.

Several other factors are also suggesting an attenuation of my plans.

Firstly, for my wife’s special 60th birthday she has requested another cruise on Fairbird in the Mediterranean. This being 90 foot long, fully crewed and staffed and having two V16 diesels, poor little Hejira doesn’t really match up. Couple that with guaranteed sunshine and the Italian coastline in prospect, the Baltic wasn’t really cutting it! So, I was already trying to adjust my schedule to accommodate a break mid-way to take in this Med cruise and this was proving to be a challenge.

The other significant factor is that I made an undertaking to catch up on overdue work at Thornleigh and while much of this can and is taking place in my absence, a major building project to extend (yes, with the family dispersed, we need more space…….) seems likely to be in full swing over the summer. It would really be prudent not to absent myself completely during this work as there will inevitably be decisions to be made during the course of the building project.

With Rebecca now living in Dublin, it has become a regular and very enjoyable destination and on recent visits, I have been ‘checking out’ the berthing options with several marinas having great links to the Airport. The plan currently gestating is to sail to Ireland in May while Paula is holidaying in South America and the Galapagos Islands, leaving Hejira in the Dublin area while I return for the Mediterranean cruise. I will then pick things up again however building works, appetite and inclinations suggest, probably returning to the South Coast for the winter although leaving Hejira in Dublin might be worthy of consideration with regular winter visits inevitable. This itinerary should present opportunities to lose my solo overnight virginity and present less of a logistical challenge.

Not an epic but it promises to be a busy year and, unusually, prudence seems to be the better option.