It was undeniable that my
sedentary lifestyle lacked challenge and
adventure. I began to yearn for the exhilaration
of a modern-day quest an expedition to set
me apart from the legions of fellow couch-potatoes,
vicariously participating in breathtaking
endeavours from the safe side of their TV screens.
My aspirations were
thwarted at every turn, however, by a
disinclination to undertake any major effort or
experience significant inconvenience or
discomfort in pursuit of my heroic goals.
Then a TV documentary
directed my attention to the quintessentially
British pursuit of seafaring.
On 28 May 1967, Sir Francis
Chichester had become the first person to sail
single-handed around the world.
On the 22nd April 1969, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
had become the first person to sail single-handed
and non-stop around the world.
On 7th February 2005, Dame Ellen MacArthur, had
broken the world record for the fastest solo
circumnavigation of the world.
On 16 February 2009, Dee Caffrey had entered the
record books as the first woman to sail solo
around the world in both directions
On 28th August 2009, Mike Perham had become the
youngest person to sail solo around the world.
I noted from the
documentary that developments in technology,
particularly in relation to practicalities of
sailing and navigation, had made the feats much
less complex for the latter sailors.
I resolved to be the first
idle, overweight, unfit, alcoholic Brit, who
possessed neither a knowledge of boats nor an
interest in sailing, to navigate single-handed
across the Atlantic.
I had my butler commission
a state of the art craft. It was a magnificent
boat by any standards and included a number of
unique features to my specifications. The sailing
and navigation of the vessel were fully computer
controlled, requiring no input from the sailor
other than the pressing of a large and
conspicuous red button at the beginning of the
voyage, marked Start Atlantic
The passenger compartment
was also managed by a computer which adjusted
hydraulic rams such that no motion could be
detected by the occupant regardless of the
severity of wind and sea.
Finally this compartment
was sumptuously appointed, including supplies of
the finest food, ready prepared for microwaving,
and a selection of wine which would have done
credit to the finest cellar. Onboard
entertainment naturally included the Internet,
myriad films, television channels and computer
The pedantic requirement to
be unaccompanied on solo voyages initially posed
a dilemma as it precluded the presence of
attractive, available women. Technology again
came to the rescue with state-of-the art, virtual
So it was that my butler
drove me to the quay, I boarded my vessel, poured
a glass of wine, donned the virtual reality suit
and headset, and began my adventure.
It was five days into the
expedition when my butler returned to point out
that I had forgotten to press the start button.
He undertook this task prior to his departure,
and I set sail for the New World.
I had assumed that the
sporting community would view my approach as
tantamount to cheating. The psychopathology of
all sportspeople and adventurers contains a
significant element of masochism. I was,
therefore, unsurprised at a deserted New York
quayside. I was overwhelmed, however, by
thousands of texts and emails from the
international idle, overweight, unfit, alcoholic
couch-potato community. At last there was a
modern-day adventurer to whom they could relate.
They had remained at home, but by closely
following my webpage, had genuinely experienced
the reality of my voyage often emulating
my precise activities.
Offers of commercial
sponsorship and TV contacts followed for future
My boat, The Civilised
Adventurer, is now being adapted for a solo,
non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. This
entails adjustments to the computer software and
hugely greater wine storage plus, of course, the
addition of a tiresome new red button for my
butler to press, labelled Start Global