FITTLEWORTH sailor Mike Martin has set sail to Florida on a 34ft boat for the adventure of a lifetime.
Eight years ago, he took the decision to invest everything he had in a sailing boat.
It was not an ordinary boat, but one suitable for ocean use and now he is sailing off to meet up with his fiancee Katie, who is already in Florida.
“It was my ambition to do some serious sailing before I finally settled down,” said Mike.
“I have always been an active ‘outdoor’ person and after completing my degree in sport health and exercise science, I became an instructor at centres for outdoor pursuits, working in this country and in Holland.”
A former Midhurst Grammar School boy, 39-year-old Mike has also been an enthusiastic member of the scouting movement and having reached the upper age limit in Scouts, was instrumental in setting-up the Fittleworth Venture Group.
Moving to Wales, he became more involved with marine rather than land-based work, teaching windsurfing, sailing, sea kayaking, coasteering, snorkelling and climbing as a freelance instructor.
Experience of tall ships came from working on a 76ft gaff cutter, the Jolie Breeze, and a steel-hulled schooner, the ‘James Cook’.
He has sailed the Atlantic before from the Canaries to Venezuela, on a much larger craft, a 64ft yacht, which achieved the voyage in 17 days with a crew of three.
But his ambition has always been to do at least one really long sailing expedition and now with a crew of two, he is sailing to Florida via Lisbon, the Canaries, and the Caribbean in Bluenose, a Rival 34 classic cruiser.
“The design has a distinctive sleek, sheer and elegant line, and the interior, although small in comparison with most modern 34-footers, is particularly well fitted-out for serious seagoing,” Mike said.
“You do, however, have to be very tidy and ruthless with what you carry.”
Mike hopes to spend Christmas in the Caribbean with Katie before sailing the last stretch to Florida.