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Can we ever be satisfied with life if we are always ‘hooked on the horizon?’
Tom Dymond talks about some of the highlights and challenges of sailing around the world — as well as the mindset issues around living for a future state, and returning to real life after years away.
Tom Dymond is the author of Wrongs of Passage and Hooked on the Horizon: Sailing Blue Eye Around the World.
- Preparation for the circumnavigation — and when you just have to get going
- Life aboard a 32-foot yacht
- High points and memorable places on the journey
- Challenges along the way
- Traveling with a friend for several years
- Wanderlust — and being ‘hooked on the horizon’
- Re-entry to ‘real life’ after years away
- Recommended travel books
You can find Tom Dymond at tsdymond.com
Transcript of the interview
Jo: Tom Dymond is the author of Wrongs of Passage and Hooked on the Horizon: Sailing Blue Eye Around the World. Welcome, Tom.
Tom: Hey. Thank you for having me.
Jo: It’s great to have you on the show. Let’s start out with a big question.
Why did you want to sail around the world and what drove you to the sea?
Tom: Well, I was already on the sea, actually, in one form already. I was working on a superyacht as a deckhand on one of these great big things that are owned by the millionaires. And so I was already getting my taste for the ocean and what it offered, but I didn’t have as much freedom, I suppose, as I would’ve liked.
It was a hard-working job. It was a great job, but it was hard work. And at the same time, serendipitously, two of my best mates from school who were back in England had thought to buy a boat of their own and do their own travels on that. So as soon as they told me what they were doing, I twisted their arms and made sure that I was allowed to be involved.
There was never a moment, I don’t think, where I wasn’t keen to do it. So it all came about not really because of me but the stars aligned and I jumped at the opportunity.
Jo: Well, then we have to go back even further. I always feel like there’s something that drive people to the sea. It’s a certain, I don’t know, character thing. How were you working as a deckhand?
Tom: I had no experience of the sea up until then. It was just a bit of nepotism, really. The opportunity came to my door, and it wasn’t one that I wanted to shirk away from having just come out of university and knew I wanted to do some traveling. Being a deckhand or a stewardess for young people is a great way to earn a bit of money and see a bit of the world. It was a really wonderful opportunity and I loved it.
Jo: You mentioned there that the superyachts, obviously, were really, really massive, but I don’t think that’s the size of the boat you were sailing in.
Tell us about the boat, Blue Eye.
Tom: That’s right. Blue Eye was a Nicholson 32, which means that she was a Nicholson design and was 32 feet long, which is roughly 10 meters for those who don’t know. So when she was built in the ’70s, that was a reasonable size, but nowadays, cruising boats tend to be much, much bigger, and certainly, in comparison to the size of the boat I was working on, it was a very different life.
But she was great for the work. James and I, James was my friend who owned the boat. For the purposes that we needed her for, she was perfect, really, because she’s really, really sturdy. Nicholson is a very reliable design.
In the ’70s, they were building them with fiberglass and they hadn’t been using it for too long. So their philosophy was just stick on as much fiberglass as possible so she won’t break, which was brilliant. So she was really seaworthy, but she was quite slow, which was a drawback, but we weren’t necessarily in a rush. She was brilliant for what we needed, albeit a little bit on the smaller side.
Jo: Describe it a bit more because I know I’ve been on boats, but a lot of people haven’t. Were you and James sharing a little cabin or were there bunks down there?
What was it like to live on the boat, to call a boat home?
Tom: There were two separate rooms. There was the fore cabin where one of us would sleep alongside a whole load of stuff that we would shove up there because there was never a space for it. And occasionally, if we were trying to sleep at sea and the boat would tilt over, all of that stuff would come crashing down upon you.
So the fore cabin wasn’t necessarily the best place to be. And then back from there…well, there was a small head, as they call it, in nautical terms, which is the toilet. And then that was a very small area.
And then back from there again was the main cabin where the other one of us would sleep and that had everything, really, that we needed to live. That had a small little galley or kitchen which included an oven with a couple of hops and a sink and a little place for all our food to go and then it had a chart table with all of our navigational equipment and then two bunks along the sides, port and starboard, with a table in the middle where we would eat and plot our course and talk and drink beer whenever we got our hands on it. She was everything we needed, but small.
Jo: Everything you needed and nothing more.
Jo: How did you work up to that circumnavigation?
Obviously, you had some experience as a deckhand, but that’s not quite the same. What did you have to learn?
Tom: Well, on my part, I’ve had to learn more or less everything. James grew up sailing with his dad and his dad was supporting us from the beginning or supporting James from the beginning of this whole thing. He really showed us the ropes, so to speak, and James, in particular, and got James into a position where he was ready to take Blue Eye out on his own and skipper it.
So he would do a lot of weekend trips with friends, and that was whilst I was still working on the superyacht. So whilst I was on the superyacht, I did a day skipper course which is run by the RYA, which is a five-day course which allows you to skipper a boat in coastal waters. That was my first sailing experience apart from the odd bit of dinghy sailing here and there.
Because the superyacht was a motor yacht, so there was obviously quite a distinction there. And then when I came back to England and joined James, he really taught the rest to me, really, as much as he knew. And we were really determined to be as ready as we could be, obviously.
You do hear on the YouTube channels quite often, people who claim to have left land without any idea as to what they’re doing. And I’m not really sure if that’s true, and if it is, it’s not very sensible because obviously, the sea can be a dangerous and strange place. So we really wanted to make sure we were in the best condition we could be and that the boat was in the best condition as well.
That involved all sorts of work to it from getting the rigging replaced, getting the engine replaced, having the sails checked, making sure the electronic navigation would work, and the electrics would work. You have to really go back to basics and then everything from the start because everything has to work. And you have to have good enough knowledge of it that once you’re out there, you know how to fix it or how to budget. We would often do.
Jo: And, of course, if one of you was sick or injured, the other one would have to do it on their own, basically.
Tom: Exactly. And there were certainly a lot of times where one or the other us were down with seasickness and it was up to the other person. That would quite often luckily happen when we were far away from land. And I don’t know if that might sound bad, but actually…
Jo: There’s less to bump into.
Tom: Exactly. Ocean sailing or open sea sailing is kind of the best stuff, really, there’s not too much that can go wrong. Whereas if you’re going around the coastline and one of you’s being sick or has broken something that would be really hard, and fortunately, we never had that situation to deal with because the open ocean is easy, really. It’s the rest of it that’s the trouble.
Jo: Which is really interesting. Okay. So you’ve mentioned seasickness. We have to talk about that because I have been seasick when I did a blue water trip from Fiji to Vanuatu, and it was about 12 hours of really, really wanting to die, and then it passed. It passed and it was fine for the rest of the trip. But also, there’s medication and things, aren’t there? What did the pair of you do about that? It sounds like you’ve had a few bouts.
Tom: The first lesson that we had to learn was not to have too many beers the night before, I think.
Jo: That doesn’t count!
Tom: No. It was really interesting actually. I think it depends on the individual because I would quite often get seasick on the superyacht I was working on because the motion was a very sort of prolonged roll, but on Blue Eye, which was much smaller, the motion could quite often be quite choppy and that didn’t seem to bother my inner ear too much.
Unfortunately, it did bother James’ inner ear a bit more often. But he’s of the type where he knows that he just has to kind of get up and get on with it and deal with it. He would probably try and preempting it was always the best thing to do to, make sure that you take your sea sickness tablets in advance, I think, because once it’s onset, I think it’s with you then and you just have to wait it out. It will eventually go.
My stepdad was unfortunate enough to have it for about a week, I think, when he joined us for our Atlantic Ocean crossing and I had lured him on with the idea that it was going to be a really gentle, easy way. I was saying just a moment ago that I love the ocean sailing, but unfortunately for him on that crossing the first week, we were just battered by winds from every direction and it was really, really unpleasant and he spent the whole time dangling over the side of the boat.
James and I were trying to feed him crackers and water, but he wasn’t having it. But eventually, he got over it. Sometimes you just have to wait these things out, I’m afraid.
Jo: I found it did resolve. But, yes, medication, people listening, if you want to go do this type of thing.
What were some of the highlights of the journey, the things you still remember?
Tom: Oh, wow. I’m spoiled for choice, really. I suppose to give a synopsis of how we went.
We went across the Atlantic to the Caribbean through the Panama Canal, down through the Pacific Ocean, to New Zealand, where we waited for the cyclone season to pass through, which was six months. And then we went back up through Southeast Asia across to Sri Lanka across the Red Sea and up through there, through the Suez Canal, through the Mediterranean, through the French Canals, and then back to England.
We were so lucky to do all of that and see the things that we did. I think the area of the world which I would not hesitate to be dropped back into would be the Pacific. It’s another world, really, it’s an amazing place. And, in particular, the ocean crossing from Galapagos to the Marquesas, which took us 24 days, which was quite quick, actually.
We were quite pleased with it. But we didn’t see another soul for that whole time that we were out there. It was just me, and James, and another friend of ours who joined us frequently throughout. And it was just brilliant.
It was mates hanging out on a boat and the weather was perfect the whole way. We were catching fish. We were watching birds. We were seeing the spray of the whales in the distance. I wouldn’t replace that experience for anything. It was really incredible.
And I suppose in terms of some of maybe the places we went to, New Zealand has got to be the most beautiful country. I know that’s somewhere that you’re very familiar with and are heading back to soon. Very jealous to hear.
And some of the maybe the lesser-known ones, we were in Sudan of all places and even whilst the 2019 revolution was going on. But that was happening in Khartoum. We were along the coastline and there’s a gorgeous coastline and the people there are so friendly, which is a cliche but honestly, the people who have the least give the most. And they’re really amazing.
I remember one particular evening we had anchored up in a small secluded bay and then some Sudanese fishermen came in as well and they called us over to their boat and we sat with them and we drank their coffee. And we couldn’t speak Arabic and they couldn’t speak English, particularly, but it sort of didn’t really matter. We were just enjoying each other’s company and the delicious coffee. Things like that I’ll remember forever. It was amazing.
Jo: It’s the Red Sea, isn’t it, that area?
Jo: I think when you say Sudan people are like, ‘But that’s Africa.’ And it’s like, ‘Yes. Africa is on the Red Sea.’ And then, of course, you went up through the Suez Canal. That’s what you said, wasn’t it?
Tom: That’s right.
Jo: You also mentioned the French Canals. So you’ve talked about the open ocean being amazing.
How different was it to go through these canal systems?
Tom: Very different, and particularly in the French canals, because we had to take the mast down so that we could fit under the bridges. I can’t remember exactly where it was. We arrived near Toulon in the south of France and a crane had to take the mast out of Blue Eye. And then we had built some supports for the mast to lie across the deck on the boat and then we lashed everything that was otherwise not secured onto the mast and set up through the canals.
Thinking that it would be a very serene and easy way to get home, that actually turned out to be a lot of hard work because going up and down the locks in Europe is hard. And we were hit by a couple of heatwaves as we went, which really knocked it out of us. I think it was when France recorded 46 degrees that summer. So that was far too much to bear.
An absolutely beautiful way to travel through France, but not as easy as we thought, because, as I was sort of saying, when you’re on the ocean there’s not much to do. You set the course and then one of you stays awake in cockpit. And that can be hard at times, sleep can be lacking, but in general, you get into a routine and ocean life is relatively straightforward.
But going through the canals, there’s so much to think about and constantly relying on an engine which occasionally was prone to breaking and occasional running aground in the canal. Because that summer was so hot, actually, one of the waterways was shut because there wasn’t enough water in the reservoir to top it up. So there was a moment where we thought that we wouldn’t actually be able to squeeze through and we would have to turn around.
But that was one of the fantastic parts of the way that we traveled was it was so varied in crossing oceans, going down coastlines, going up rivers, and through canals. We were so lucky to be able to do it.
Jo: When you’re visiting all these different places, I feel like now, post-pandemic even globally, we might be in more of a contactless payment world.
Did you have to take different currencies, or were you relying on U.S. dollars, for example, in different parts of the world?
Tom: Good question. U.S. dollars work everywhere, as you can imagine. So it was a good idea to have a stash of them. Most places have been touched by globalization now. It was an astonishing thing to see even out in the isolated islands of the Pacific.
Almost everywhere would have satellite dishes, and solar power, and some form of internet connection. So quite often you would be able to pay on card or some sort of electronic way like that.
But also it was wise to have a good reserve of the cash that you needed for that country. And that was actually something we got pretty drastically wrong when we arrived to Eritrea, which is a country just south of Sudan.
We arrived there 28 days after having left Sri Lanka. So that was the longest amount of time that we spent at sea, the three years that we were away. And it was a lot to think about for that particular trip because we were going through the Gulf of Aden and then up the Red Sea, which has been known for its piracy problems. And so there’s a lot of admin involved.
You have to be in touch with the international navies and you have to let them know, the countries know that you’re coming. And there was a lot to think about.
The one thing we forgot to think about, or I forgot to think about, in fairness, because admin was tended to be my domain, was that we might need some cash when we arrived. And when we did arrive and we didn’t have any cash, it was quite obviously a problem because at the time, there was only one cashpoint in Eritrea and that was in the capital and to get to the capital, you needed to have a visa, and to get the visa, you needed to pay in cash.
So there was no way that we could get it. So that was really sad, actually, because we ended up having to leave Eritrea. It was our first taste of East Africa and it seemed wonderful, but without the money to pay for a visa, we weren’t able to stay so we had to take back to sea again, which was not really what we had in mind having to spend a month out there. And we went to Sudan.
James’ dad had got in touch with a yacht agent there called Mohammed and he greeted us and he came and lent us a whole load of cash, which was so generous of him so that we could get to the bank. Our parents had transferred us money by Western Union, which was not something I’d ever used up until that moment and we were able to pay back Mohammed and get over the fact that we hadn’t had any.
It was such a small amount of time to not have any money. The horrible thing about it is that we were these wealthy Westerners coming to East Africa and we were having to borrow money from these people who didn’t have very much.
Tom: It was a really strange and unpleasant situation to be in. And it put things in perspective, as you can imagine.
Jo: It’s interesting, because you talked at the beginning about the life of the superyacht and you didn’t have enough freedom to do the things you want to do and then what you’re talking about there is either we do live in a world where borders are really important and currencies are important and all these things.
In the romantic sense, getting on a boat and sailing around the world is one wonderful idea. But there are all these practicalities that mean it’s not just freedom and the open ocean, is it?
Tom: No. We quite often felt a bit peeved on the admin forms that you would have to fill in. When you arrive to a country, you’d have to fill in your employment status. And we were obviously unemployed. But it certainly felt like a full-time job a lot at the time and it didn’t really feel like that was a justification of what we were doing. I know what you mean.
Jo: So the admin is one of the difficulties. And I think, look, to be honest, we’re in pandemic times and as you mentioned, we’re going to New Zealand soon and there’s a lot of admin even to get on a plane these days as well.
Were there any other things that stood out as difficulties? Those are things that weren’t even to do with the boat, really. Did you have any interesting difficulties with the boat? You mentioned earlier, you said the sea is a dangerous and strange place.
Did you have some difficult times out at sea?
Tom: We did. Only a few that were so bad as to sort of feature heavily in the book that I wrote about the trip. But you get used to the conditions that you’re presented with and you do just have to on with it because once you’re out there, there doesn’t tend to be many places you can hide from it.
The one that sticks out certainly is those first few days on the Atlantic with my poor stepdad in tow with us, and we had left the Cape Verde’s, which is a small archipelago just off of Senegal. And we had gone a little hastily, well, certainly a little hastily in hindsight. Forecast wasn’t brilliant. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t suggest that there was anything heavy out there in terms of wind.
So we thought, ‘Well, we might as well just make a move. We want to get to the Caribbean, so we’ll set off.’ And then we were just presented with this really unreliable and strange weather and it just kept on changing and it built over the course of a morning to the point where we were sailing down 45 knots of wind which was pushing up this really horrible sea and the only saving grace of it was that it was coming from behind us.
If you’re sailing with the weather, then it’s nowhere near as bad as sailing into it. So it could have been a lot worse, but it was not something that we were very much enjoying either. And also not knowing at what point it would stop because it wasn’t on the forecast at all. So we weren’t sure if it was going to keep on going up and up or if it was going to abate.
Luckily in the end it did and it turned out just to be one particularly bad day. But after that we thought we probably won’t leave land without a reliable forecast again in the future.
Jo: That seems really important.
Were there any places that surprised you?
Obviously, you guys sounded like you did a lot of research, you were really well-prepared, but sometimes we turn up at a place and it’s not quite what we expected. Were there any places like that?
Tom: There certainly was. It was I think probably one place that we had heard that was fantastic place to visit was the San Blas islands in Panama which is an archipelago just to the east of it, so before we went through the canal. That was actually a little bit disappointing for us, unfortunately, but then the upshot of that was that we ended up going and traveling to some other islands around that area which we’d never heard of and as far as we can tell, not many other people had.
They transpired to be fantastic. It was always a case of we’ll try and figure out where we would like to go and what’s recommended, but not so recommended that it’s going to be really busy, which in the Caribbean, in particular, is a difficulty because that’s a lot of those things. But we would always just try and approach a new place with an open mind and figure out what it was all about. Invariably, most of the time we had a great time there.
Jo: What was it like traveling with your friend, James, for three years?
I struggled enough just in lockdown with my husband, having to be on a boat for three years in just a tiny place. How did that work and how did you manage it in such close quarters?
Tom: I don’t know if James knows, but I often refer to him as my sailing husband when I’m talking about him with other people, which I think is apt, actually. A lot of the people that we would meet, other sailors, other long-distance sailors would tend to be couples, married couples, probably retired. And it was funny how there was this division of labor amongst them.
The men would tend to do the engineering jobs, the technical jobs, and then the women would tend to do the admin things. Not to perpetuate any gender stereotypes, but that was a very obvious thing that we observed. I noticed that the same thing had happened between James and I. He was very much the technical one and I was very much sort of the, I suppose, the planner at a larger level.
So I think that was really important to how we ended up getting on, really. And we got on really well. I mentioned it towards the end of my book. That was the most important thing for me, was that we came home still friends and better friends than when we left and that was by far our biggest achievement. Which is not to say that there weren’t moments where we were at loggerheads.
Everyone has their own egos and their own ideas about how things should be done, but I think it was identifying for us what might cause any friction and trying to steer away from it because we knew that we needed each other, really, both as friends and sailing buddies to get through that time and we were both really determined to make sure that we finished what we started.
I suppose in a practical sense, one way that we’ve got around that was by the jobs. It was fortunate that we had different skills and different personalities that the things that we could contribute to the projects were different and they complemented one another.
So as I say, he was more hands-on practical man. He could fix the engine, which needed fixing far more often than he would hope for. Whereas I took a step back and we think about the big picture, like how do we get around the world and set time and how do the things that were happening in the oceans affect us in terms of cyclone seasons and so on.
And then I suppose at some point, the decision-making authority would pass from one of us to the other. James tended to be the one who would look in more detail, how passage would work. And at some stage, from my sort of broader outlook, it would be passed down to his more detailed look at exactly how we were going to get from A to B. I suppose in that gray area was where there was a possibility for disagreement.
It was just really about identifying that and making sure that it didn’t happen. And it worked, I think, in general. We got on really well and it really helped that we also had other people.
It wasn’t entirely analogous to lockdown. We could have other people come on the boat and share the load and spice things up a little bit as our friend, Will, did and my stepdad and others who we met along the way. But yeah, as I say, I’m really happy and I’m proud of us that we managed to make it work because it wasn’t guaranteed that we would.
Jo: Three years is a long time.
Do you think you came back a different person? What changed for you?
Tom: I think I left with perhaps a slightly naive idea that sailing around the world would complete anything missing in my life and the instant gratification and happiness. And this is really what Hooked on the Horizon, the account I’ve written about the trip was trying to get at: naively thinking that happiness would always be over the horizon.
It would always lie on the next island. We might be in Antigua in the Caribbean and I think, ‘Well, when we get to Dominica then I’ll be fulfilled.’ And recognizing that pattern more and more has been really important to me in how I deal with day-to-day things now.
I think it’s important to realize that there’s always that longing for something more and how you deal with that, I think, has been the biggest lesson for me that I learned on the journey, which I’m really grateful for.
Jo: I wonder about the longing and the Hooked on the Horizon idea. This is something I ponder on the show, which is, are there those of us who are born with some kind of wanderlust that is never satisfied? And there are people who just don’t understand us because they don’t feel that, they’ve never felt that. As you rightly say, I don’t think it will ever go away. I don’t think it will ever be satisfied, however much we travel.
Do you think it’s something that is innate that some people have and some people don’t?
Tom: It does seem to be, doesn’t it? We all have those friends who can’t sit still for too long and they’re off and then those who are extremely comfortable back home and there’s no right or wrong in either way, but it is really interesting how people differ in that.
I do worry for people. This is something that I really noticed when I returned home and I felt sated in my travels and I didn’t have any itchy feet for quite a long time. Going through lockdown sort of helped because any possibility of leaving the country was swiftly removed. But before that happened, speaking to a lot of friends about what they wanted to do, and I wanted to warn them off slightly.
This idea, which I recognized in them, what I think was in me prior to leaving on Blue Eye, that the idea that I’ll get happy if I go off over there kind of thing. And so that was really what inspired me to take that angle with the book because I think it’s a really important lesson to learn.
It’s not something that everyone struggles with. I’m envious of those who don’t seem to struggle with that. I think, to be fair, James, probably wouldn’t say that he went through exactly the same process as me even though we were on the same boat. I think perhaps that’s something that I might’ve struggled with a little bit more. It was all part of the learning process and I like to think I’m a bit more capable now of dealing with those that itchy feet and knowing what that might mean.
Jo: Yes. Although now you’ve turned into a writer, which means you get the excuse of, ‘Right. I need to write another book. Where should I go next?’
Jo: I know how that works. I do want to ask you about coming home because three years, all these amazing things happened, every day has some kind of rhythm because you obviously have to move the boat or deal with the boat in some way and then you get back to England and people are like, ‘Oh, great to see you. I didn’t realize you’d been away for so long.’
That always happens, right? And they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. Oh, nice, nice.’ They want to see maybe three pictures and then that’s about it.
How was re-entry into life when you got back? Was it a massive anti-climax or did you find that contentment you were talking about?
Tom: I guess a little bit of both in some way. It was such a drastic change. One day we were sailing across the English Channel back from France and the next it was within a week, it was kind of like living back home with mum for a bit and planning what to do next. So it was a very strange moment.
I was fortunate, I think, in that I knew I wanted to write the book and in many ways also the trip was probably the perfect length because I was ready to come home. I was starting to really miss family, and friends, and community, and English pubs, and all the things that you think about when you’re away and you’re a little bit homesick. It was the right moment and things kind of fell into place for me after that.
I moved to Bristol, which is where lots of my friends are living, and that’s been wonderful. It was a brilliant place to live. I became a postman, which is a great job to have and particularly good to complement writing a book.
I really tried to take them in stride and to appreciate the memories that I had gathered, but also to do as I was preaching to remember that any desire to go off again is really only filling in something which might never actually be completely filled in some way. So it wasn’t too bumpy a ride coming back to land, and I’ve really loved it actually. It’s been really nice to be back in the UK.
The other thing that you get when you have been away for a long time is you appreciate what is on your doorstep. Wales is close to where I am, but I’ve got Scotland and incredible areas to travel the world as people have been finding out now that staycation is the thing. But you really do gain an appreciation for what is right before you, which you might not have noticed before. And so that’s been another great thing about the whole trip.
Jo: Glad you said that because I left in the year 2000 and came back in 2011. So I did pop back a few times during that 11 years to visit family, but we moved back here in 2011. My husband’s a New Zealander. And we appreciate this country so much more for living elsewhere.
It drives me a bit nuts sometimes when my brothers and sisters, who haven’t necessarily lived long in other countries, although some of them have, that they say things and I’m like, ‘Yeah. But…’ There are lots of good things and bad things about every place in the world. You mentioned the Caribbean, for example. There are amazing things in the Caribbean, but I’d rather be living here, which some people would think is crazy, right?
Tom: You’re right. I don’t know. We’re all just built differently and some people want to go off and some people want to stay. I think it’s always worth exploring a little bit if the opportunity is there and you can afford to do it or, there’s no responsibilities tying you to a place for a while then I think travel in and of itself is a wonderful thing as there’s so much to be learned there and you can always bring those lessons back home and bring those memories back with you as well.
Jo: I know a lot of people dream of sailing around the world, but there are a lot of things to think about and fear of all kinds of things.
If people are thinking about, ‘I would really like to sail around the world’ and they’re afraid, what would you say to kind of help them along the way?
Tom: I suppose you’d be surprised how many people are actually doing it. There’s a huge community living at sea, all types and creates. There’s young families, there’s elderly retired couples, there’s the young folk like James and I. So there’s a lot of people doing it.
It’s getting safer all the time with the technology that’s available. The forecasting, I mean, people from England don’t really believe me when I say this because I think we’ve always been brought up to believe that the weather forecasters haven’t got a clue what they’re on about, which I think is linked to the way or the position of the UK in the world.
We get some very temperamental and unpredictable weather, but actually, when you’re out at sea, the weather forecasting is incredible. It’s so precise. Occasionally it goes wrong as I alluded to with our Atlantic crossing trip, but in general, it’s very good.
I wouldn’t turn anybody away from the idea of travel or sailing travel. The first thing has always got to be just to begin, because the worst bit is the dread before you take that first step. I do remember that dread before we left on the Blue Eye. I think if we hadn’t had a big party where we invited our friends and family to see us off, I might well not have decided to go. I don’t know. Just go.
Jo: Fantastic. Right. So this is the ‘Books and Travel’ podcast.
What are a few books that you recommend about sailing or travel in general?
Tom: I’ve not read a huge amount of sailing books, actually, I’m sad to say, but there’s two that I really enjoyed.
One is Sea Legs by Guy Grieve which is a really honest depiction of the year or so that he and his family spent sailing in the Caribbean and then subsequently back to Scotland which is a really fun read and it really inspired me actually to be as honest as I could in my writing because he’s extremely honest when he talks about his relationships with certain people in his family. I would highly recommend that if someone was interested in sailing books.
I would also recommend Kit Pascoe’s book called In Bed with the Atlantic. She is a young woman who sailed with her boyfriend around the Atlantic and it’s all about her overcoming her anxiety. And so that’s another very honest account which I really appreciated.
In terms of travel in general, it depends how strictly you’re talking about what makes a travel book, but the books I always return to and I think of them as travel in some way, and I don’t know if I really need to recommend them cause I’m sure many of your readers will be familiar with them, your listeners are. Gerald Durrell, his childhood memoirs growing up in Corfu I think is just brilliant.
They’re so cozy, and funny, and offering insight into Corfu and Greece in general. I’m sure people would have heard of him and read him, but if not, then I really urge them towards certainly the first one, My Family and Other Animals. And I would suggest that if you like him, then you might like my book because I’m heavily influenced by him as well.
And then again, this is stretching, perhaps the definition of what one would call a travel book because it’s fictional, but John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath is an incredible example, I think, of travel writing, certainly in the middle section.
He depicts the rhythm and the cadence of travel in a way that I’ve not read any other travel writer do. So even though that one is slightly perhaps outside the bounds of what’s strictly travel writing, I’d really recommend him as well. Not that he needs any more readers, but yeah, those would be my recommendation.
Where can people find you and your books online?
Tom: They can find them on my website, which is tsdymond.com and it’s on Amazon and it’s on eBay now and it can be requested at your local Waterstones and all the places that you would buy your eBooks.
And you can also find my free book, Wrongs of Passage there, which is the prequel to before we sailed around the world which just depicts a few of the funniest stories just for a little taste as to what went on, on that boat.
Jo: Fantastic. Thanks so much for your time, Tom. That was great.
Tom: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
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