Heading West

Post the exam high, I have reflected over the past 2 weeks, What’s the reason for getting up in the morning?

Just trying to answer such a big question can be very daunting, the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’ helps. Originating from a country with one of the world’s oldest populations, the idea is becoming popular outside of Japan as a way to live longer and better. While there is no direct English translation, ikigai is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live”, and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for”. Together these definitions create the concept of “a reason to live” or the idea of having a purpose in life.

To find this reason or purpose, experts recommend starting with four questions:

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does the world need from you?
  • What can you get paid for?

Now in my perfect ‘Ikigai’ world…. there would be interesting technology interim work in the dark, wet and cold winter months and sailing work adventures in the warm summer months. As time progresses and the kids fly the nest, the dream is to chase the summer months in both hemispheres and gracefully exit the corporate world forever.

The initial napkin plan was all about trying to gain a work life balance now, to try and have parallel careers, Track 1) providing interim and advisory technology leadership services, leveraging the 25 years experience of business technology that have been hard earned along with sharing the war scars to help others. Track 2) is to start to develop an alternative career and build upon the yachtmaster offshore qualification, gain more experience with charters, day sails and deliveries and push the boundaries further into our oceans to hopefully one day become an instructor and a confident delivery skipper.

The past two weeks have been filled with progressing both tracks, trying to keep the plan alive, not losing hope or focus and slipping back into a full time corporate role and a spiralling vortex wondering ‘what if’ and eventually losing the reason for getting out of bed !

Always good to have turns (options)

There have been lots of conversations regarding technology interim work, potentially good interesting challenges to get involved in, however if I am honest, I am struggling to put my grey suit on and be excited about commuting again, it’s such a waste of time ! I spent 2 days back in London and I can honestly say, I haven’t missed the place one bit. It was great bumping into a friend on the train and catching up, but that was the highlight. To think I paid £25 for the privilege to stand up there and back, lose at least 3 hours of my day, how did I do this for 10 years…, the trade off is that these jobs will pay the bills so I am going to have to seriously think how to overcome the brain drain on the train when the time comes !

To work as a skipper in the marine industry, you need to obtain the commercial endorsement to the yachtmaster certificate. This involves passing a medical, a choice of a ML5 or ENG1 type of medical, the trade off being the ENG1 allows you to go further afield, 150 NM ( nautical miles) from safety but only lasts 2 years and you have to see a MCA (maritime and coastguard agency) approved doctor, or an ML5 that last 5 years but you can only skipper up to 60NM from safety and you have to see your own doctor. I decided to opt for the ENG1, my doctor isn’t available when you are ill unless you make an appointment a month in advance and time your illness, so they definitely weren’t willing to see me for a marine based medical, so after a few phone calls to the the local MCA approved doctors, I found myself on Harley Street in London being stripped down to my boxers being prodded and pi%%ing in a pot to make sure I was fit and healthy to go to sea.

Exciting Times Ahead……

Luckily the doctor overlooked the little bit of extra weight due to my chocolate biscuit obsession whilst out distance sailing and passed me fit to go to sea. I also missed off the detail that I might be going mad, as one cold and dark night shift whilst sailing mid channel, to kill the boredom we stacked ranked our favourite biscuits into tiers, with chocolate hob knob & digestive along with the jammy dodger being ranked tier 1, whilst rich tea and plain digestive tier 3. The big debate was custard cream and chocolate bourbon’s, were they tier 1 or tier 2 ?, the other debating item ‘party rings’, were they tier 3 ?, with that sugar icing or tier 1 as generally only served at special occasions, Xmas and kids parties. – Let me know your views via the comments, it’s an interesting debate 🙂 ?

With the medical a success, the second hurdle to overcome was the pass of the online course – PPR (Professional, Practices and Responsibilities). This gave a fascinating and frightening insight into the accountabilities the skipper has and what constitutes the boat to be used for, either pleasure or commercial use. The latter coming with strict codes of compliance and rules that needed to be learned and legally adhered to. Two days later and after more studying and learning, I successfully passed the tests and the course. After another payment to the RYA and I can now class myself as a Commercially endorsed Yachtmaster Offshore.

The trick to a meaningful ‘ikigai’ life , you need to find a purpose – paid or unpaid. I would like to do sailing teaching, but you need to be more experienced before you can take another course and an another assessment to be a cruising instructor. I would also like to be involved in skippering charters but you need to be applying at the beginning of a season and you need more experience and contacts in the industry. The next best option is delivery, again a notoriously difficult industry to break into as a skipper, you need to build up experience and contacts, along with really understanding what it takes to deliver boats anywhere in the world.

After sending a few emails and constructing a lightweight sailing CV offering my services as either crew, mate or skipper to get on the ladder. Miraculously one company responded and I am off next week to help deliver a yacht from the Azores to Portugal.

What an opportunity and adventure ahead – 1000 nautical miles across the Atlantic !

The next blog, I will share all about it.

Thanks for Reading, Watching, Commenting & Following



3 thoughts on “Heading West

  1. Party rings are definitely Tier 1 due to reserved appearances socially, and the fact that I know they are complete rubbish yet still love them.


  2. No, we focussed on biscuits, not chocolate biscuits, that’s a whole new category. Tim Tams vs Penguins Vs Clubs Vs Taxis Vs Wagon Wheel vs Kit Kats……. ?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s