It has been almost a year since I wrote an entry for this blog. I truly did not intend to leave it this long, and the site is rather a sad sight with a final trailing message stating that the original voyage had been rescheduled for a later date and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to wait for it to kick-off. As it happened, that new voyage was also postponed, as was the one after that.
The good news is that much has happened in the year of Covid-19. The Picton Castle team are determined to go ahead with a voyage, hopefully in the fall of this year, but my pessimism is telling me that a more likely date is Spring 2022. As the world settles into new travel laws, possible Covid vaccine passports, etc. it may be that legal uncertainty surrounding international travel will make it is a sensible decision to postpone the voyage just a little longer. I haven’t plucked this notion out of thin air, as the PC team have mentioned the Spring date themselves in some of their emails.
But (here’s where it gets really good), the plans for the voyage have radically changed since my earlier single-leg Pacific voyage posts. In the wake of the virus, the PC team have decided to organise a circumnavigation voyage departing from and returning to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia via a westerly route. This new voyage is exciting enough in and of itself, but compounding the sense of adventure, they have opted to extend the length of the voyage from 12 months to 18 months. The team are still formulating an itinerary, so I am unsure as to the route just yet. It has gone through a couple of revisions over the last year. I get the impression that they would prefer to give us a description of a route they can commit to, rather than changing the path yet again.
I have been absurdly fortunate to have kept my job throughout the pandemic. Here I really do have to mention Beyond 2022 (the project on which I work), the Adapt Centre (the research centre that employs me), and Trinity College Dublin (the university where I am based) for their incredible generosity in helping me to remain in steady employment during what has been an uncertain time for so many people. Specifically, I owe an immense debt of gratitude to Prof. Peter Crooks and Prof. Owen Conlan who were amazing at finding funding to keep me going in spite of the fact that I have had one leg out the door for two years now.
That I have continued to work, whilst barely leaving the house means I have been able to save even more aggressively than I did during my PhD. My savings have grown very healthy over the last year. So much so, in fact, that I have somehow managed to cobble together the funding needed to join the Picton Castle for the full 18 months. This is a far cry from the earlier three-to-four month jaunt around the Pacific I had envisioned as an extended holiday before returning to work.
At 18 months, the new Picton Castle voyage takes on a different meaning. This is more than a holiday. Given that I’ve had a year to sit on my hands, I’ve been doing my best to prepare for the voyage in small ways – reading books, exercising, practising knots – but I know there is nothing that can fully prepare me for the challenge I have now chosen to tackle.
There is much to do, but the news is that the outlook is good and it would seem that my original extended holiday has grown into a full-scale, round-the-world adventure.