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free bird

“If there’s one sure way of driving a man to sea again, it is to shut him up in a London office after a lifetime afloat. Their Lordships, in their wisdom, had ordained that the last few years of my twenty-seven-year service in the Royal Navy should be spent at a desk, so when towards the end of 1952 I was faced with the prospect of retirement in the following summer my spirits revolted.

Like a caged bird that remembers better days I began to yearn for fresh air and freedom. I was tired of the routine of an automaton, in which I hoisted myself out of bed, dressed, went down to breakfast, got up from breakfast, and left the house to catch the bus every morning – and what for? Harassed by the constant ringing of the telephone and the never-ending din of the traffic outside, and finally frustrated by some committee or other. At the end of the year I dropped casually into a yacht broker’s in West London. ‘I want a yacht to sail around the world in.’”

Commander Victor ClarkOn the Wind of a Dream (1960)

(The boat Clark bought and sailed on his attempted circumnavigation was Solace, a 34’ ketch built in the UK in 1929. It was wrecked on the Solomon Islands in 1954 but limped home after a repair by the locals. Clark, an old-school British officer who fought in the doomed defense of Singapore, died aged 97.)