Great Britain circumnavigating sailing canoeist Gavin Millar pauses for thought

Gavin and Stacey at the Tees and Hartlepool Yacht Club

Round Britain sailing canoeist Gavin Millar has reached Amble in Northumberland – progress that amounts to something like a third of the distance he hoped to cover in about half the time the time he has available.

In the worst summer weather I can recall, his progress seems to me to be nothing short of wonderful, and I’m quite sure that he’s succeeding in one of his key aims, to demonstrate the abilities of the sailing canoe.

For one thing, I know he’ll be giving quite a few dinghy and small yacht sailors cause to stop and think about whether their boating approach is the right one for the location, available time and budget.

Readers who would like to know a little more about the fascinating 150-year history of cruising by sailing canoe in the UK, a good place to start is Gavin’s website, which includes a page on just this topic.

But the weather conditions must be wildly frustrating for the man himself. He must so wish he’d done it last year or next.

But talking with him, you quickly get an impression of a man with a very considered  approach to life. I imagine his daily routine must involved a certain amount of something close to meditation, and his weblog post of yesterday has exactly that quality as he considers his options as the time available to complete his voyage runs a little short:

‘I’ve decided to press on and to get as far as I can. And if I don’t complete the entire route then I’ll return to finish it at a later date. I’ve also been reminding myself of some of the reasons why I have chosen to make this voyage in a sailing canoe. These include not only the challenge itself but also the opportunity to explore the very varied and often stunningly beautiful British coastline in a way that’s often not possible in a yacht and sometimes not possible by sailing dinghy. The closeness to the physical experience, the ability to land on a wide variety of beaches and to get up close to headlands, cliffs and to some isolated and little visited parts of our coast are some of the attractions.

‘So, next I head on past the delights of the Northumbrian Coast before reaching a Scotland. And I’ll continue to try to communicate the excitement and enjoyment of travelling by sailing canoe as best I can.’

Go Gavin! For me, you can stuff most of the Olympics. Gavin and Stacey’s circumnavigation of Great Britain is the best sporting reason to pray for better weather.

PS Gavin has a Facebook page featuring brief details of his progress – if Fb’s your thing, I’m sure he’d appreciate as many ‘likes’ as he can get.