An African parrot will provide the only company for a Liverpool man as he attempts to sail around Britain.
Depending on the weather, the 2,500 nautical-mile trip could take Paul Hardaker up to six months to cover and his parrot, Finlay, an African Grey, will be the only other crew member on board his boat, Zuma.
Paul said: “It’s going to be at least three months on a small boat on my own, apart from the parrot. If all goes to plan, sailing the Atlantic is my ultimate dream.”
Mr Hardaker, who only took up the hobby in 2003, sets
sail from Liverpool Marina on May 1st, and will travel
anti-clockwise around the UK, calling into various ports
including Hartlepool, St Ives and Fort William.
He said: “My maiden voyage was to Conwy and my heart
was in my mouth. The trip was shaky, but that feeling of
elation when I arrived back at Liverpool was
overwhelming. I felt I had conquered the earth, I had a
new passion; sailing.”
The voyage only became possible last year when a
significant life milestone, and the demise of his own
construction business, gave Paul the impetus to try to
turn his dream into a reality.
“I decided to take on this challenge as I always wanted to sail further than Conwy and the Isle of Man. Due to work commitments, I was never really able to go further. But last year I lost my business so now is perfect, with no time restraints," said Paul.
“Plus, I’ve reached the dreaded 40 and feel there is more to life than work, work, work. I’ve always wanted to do something to test and find myself and this seems the perfect way.”
Paul’s partner, Lisa Stewart, said: “I'm really happy to see Paul fulfill his dream. As much as I will miss him and worry about him, this is something that he must do. If he didn't, he would spend the rest of his life regretting it.”
He will also attempt to raise £25,000 for the charity Crohn's and Colitis UK, an organisation close to his heart as he has suffered from Crohn's disease for more than a decade.
Regular medication and a sensible diet have kept the inflammatory disease of the intestines under control, although he has been hospitalised a few times since his diagnosis.
EXCLUSIVE by Liam Deveney, Level 2 Editor
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Finlay the parrot will be with Paul on his voyage around the country; YouTube: Paul's video training diary
Paul only took up sailing eight years ago