THE DREAM CAME TRUE

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The smile that said it all – (photo – Louise Flanagan)

The Alpha Global Expedition ended at 11.00am on Wednesday 21st May when Barrabas crossed the start / finish line between Calshot Spit and Hillhead in the Solent. Adrian Flanagan became the first single-handed sailor to achieve a ‘vertical’ circumnavigation of the earth. Below, in his own words, Adrian describes the end of his epic voyage.

 

“30,825 miles. That’s what the log read when I tied up at the Royal Southern Yacht Club in the Hamble River just after 11.00am on Wednesday 21st May. I had crossed the finish line, a transit between Calshot Spit and Hillhead a few miles before, crossing my outward track – ‘tying the knot’ as it’s called. Events had overtaken time – too much happening to take in, not enough space to accommodate all the images and emotions which time had swept and heaped and stored at this place, the end of the Alpha Global Expedition. Barrabas sailed beautifully from the Dover Strait to Selsey Bill just east of the Solent, so well and fast in fact that we arrived in the eastern Solent late on Monday evening. I decided to find a protected anchorage where I could rest up. I found it in the aptly named Chichester channel………….

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Scottish Prime Minister Unelected

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Gordon “Bottler” Brown, Scottish Prime Minister Unelected

The Crewe and Nantwich by-election gave a section of the British electorate the opportunity give a verdict on “Bottler” Brown, an opportunity previously denied them. When “Bottler’s” long guerilla war with Tony Blair resulted in Blair’s resignation and “Bottler’s” coronation, “Bottler” was the Scottish Prime Minister non-elect. Then came the terrible Local Government elections this year, where the Blair Brown Regime was thrashed by a resurgent Conservative Party. At that point, “Bottler” became the Scottish Prime Minster UNELECT. British electors across England and Wales has expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with the Blair Brown Regime but local elections can be notoriously unrepresentative of what happens in National Elections. Crewe and Nantwich was a clear expression of national discontent.

Crewe and Nantwich was a by-election that the Labour Party should have won, even if the majority became paper thin. It was necessary because of the death of Gwyneth Dunwoody, a hugely respected and liked MP. Mrs Dunwoody was part of the Labour aristocracy but, unlike many of that group of Labour politicians, she did not see the role of an MP as personal wealth acquisition, but as service to the people who elected her. She built a personal support from the electors of Crew and Nantwich that was largely insulated from the national fortunes of her Party. She became a Minister but her political career stalled, largely because she demonstrated that she was an MP first, for her constituents, and a Party member second. During the inglorious mis-rule of the Blair Brown Regime she developed a new career as Chairman of a Commons Select Committee who was not afraid to stand up to the Regime. This won her more respect in addition to her position as the second longest sitting MP. In an era when the venial antics of many MPs have resulted in them being regarded generically as disreputable and of the lowest regard, Mrs Dunwoody was respected widely far beyond her political Party and by fellow MPs of all Parties. She was also feared by many politicised Civil Servants who were forced to answer questions they would rather ignore.

Given the reputation in Crew and Nantwich, as a respected and effective Constituency MP, and nationally, as an honest and honourable politician, the death of Mrs Dunwoody could be expected to earn a sympathy vote for who ever was appointed to stand for her vacant seat from her own Party. The Constituency also has a long tradition of loyalty to Labour. Then it could be expected that candidates from other Parties would be hampered by the fact that they were fighting an election where the previous incumbent had just died. Certainty, the Conservatives hoped to reduce the majority achieved by Mrs Dunwoody when she fought the seat at the previous General Election, but they did not initially expect to win. That realism was coloured by the fact that the Conservatives have never been good performers at by-elections and had not won a by-election against Labour in more than thirty years.

So what went wrong for “Bottler”?

His spin doctors will be hard at work today trying to show how the result was meaningless, but what does it mean?

By any impartial estimate, any by-election in 2008 should see a greatly reduced Labour share of the vote because of the gross incompetence over more than ten years of the Blair Brown Regime and the particular incompetence of the Chancellor for most of that period, “Bottler” Brown. The global economic cycle has little to do with the performance of national politicians and governments in general terms and therefore no politician can really justifiably claim all credit for good times, or be fully to blame for bad times. However, carefully analysis of “Bottler’s” period as Chancellor shows that, in contrast to the propaganda from Regime spin doctors, “Bottler” was an incompetent Chancellor who had difficulty in reaching decisions and demonstrated a strong desire to claim credit for others’ achievements, disappearing when it was time to own up to his own serious errors.

As Chancellor, “Bottler” inherited from the outgoing Conservative Chancellor, Ken Clarke, a golden legacy with an economy in better shape than at any time since before the 1914-1918 Great War. This was not just a matter of a firm and strong upward trend economically, but it included strong reserves, necessary to protect in difficult times. The conditions were so good that “Bottler” still tries to claim credit for the four years before the Blair Brown Regime achieved power.

That legacy has been squandered. “Bottler” sold off the gold reserves at the bottom of the market and went on not only to raise tax in every conceivable way, but to spend the money badly and then borrow heavily. Spend and tax and borrow is always a dangerous practice, but to borrow during a period of global economic good times is irresponsible in the extreme. He may have been able to claim continuing economic growth but that claim hides the fact that the rate of rise slowed after he became Chancellor and Britain has achieved lower growth under his Chancellorship than other developed economies. Trend indicators suggest that had the Conservative Chancellor continued in office, Britian would have achieved higher growth consistently than any other developed economies and enjoyed a further strengthening of reserves with which to meet the recession that now faces Britain.

“Bottler” was not only an incompetent Chancellor but also demonstrated a lack of backbone and a lack of decision. He claimed all credit for the economic good times but claimed not to have had any involvement in the Blair Brown Regime avoiding blame for all the unpopular and illegal actions the Regime took. Whenever any unpopular decision had to be taken or at any point where the Regime should have been called to account, he was nowhere to be seen.

Then came his coronation. He had been working for ten years to force Blair out of office to satisfy his own ego and ambition. That he failed to give the electorate an opportunity to confirm his appointment as Prime Minister might not have been fatal, had he demonstrated a capacity to do the job effectively. As it turned out he fumbled every important decision and developed a reputation for gross error and indecision. He created an expectation that his period as Prime Minister would be marked by a new disaster every week. It could also be seen that many disasters were directly influenced by errors he had been responsible for as Chancellor.

Given the record of the Blair Brown Regime, and the past performance of “Bottler” Brown, a Labour candidate standing at by-election could expect to see a reduction in the previous majority, even in a traditional Labour heartland. That would have ben poor news for “Bottler” so he and his henchmen hit on a cunning plan which they hoped would enable a win with the previous majority intact.

The first part of the plan was to hold the election at the earliest time, before more bad economic news became public knowledge. The second part of the plan was to parachute failed Welsh MP Tamsin Dunwoody in to stand for her late mother’s seat.

Traditionally, by-elections following the death of an MP are given a decent interval of typically six months. This shows respect for the dead MP and his or her family. By starting the fight for the seat before Mrs Dunwoody’s funeral, “Bottler” demonstrated a serious lack of respect.

Then there was the choice of candidate. Tamsin Dunwoody has not demonstrated any of the qualities that made her mother such a respected MP. She also has a background of privilege that was not likely to resonate with the core Labour electorate. Her sole attribute appears to have been sharing the family name, and even that was something of a shame because she appears to have previously avoided using that name in her styling.

Given the weakness of the candidate and the very low reputation of the Blair Brown Regime, the Conservatives started to hope for an historic victory. As the campaign developed and the Regime continued to make more mistakes, the Conservatives began to hope for a clear win with perhaps a majority of 1,000 rather than scraping a narrow win after several recounts.

One serious mistake the Regime made was to launch a class war against the Conservative candidate rather than to attempt to present positive policies. This was a curious approach because of the candidates, the only one to appear in Burke’s Peerages was Tamsin Dunwoody. The Conservative candidate being the son of the founder of the Timpson retail chain and part of a family with long and strong local links to Crewe and Nantwich with a reputation for hard work and service to the community. Candidate Edward Timpson was a family lawyer, exposed to the range of family problems through his work. Against this Tamsin Dunwoody was a hasty import from Wales who appeared more interested in her political career than in the constituents. As the attacks became nastier and personal, the Dunwoody campaign focused on claims that the Conservative candidate lived in a mansion and was ‘out-of-touch’ with ordinary people, painting Tamsin Dunwoody as a poverty stricken single mother. They appear to have assumed that anyone looking into the background of their candidate would look for ‘Tamsin Dunwoody’ and not in the name she normally uses. Unfortunately for them, journalists soon discovered that the candidate living in a mansion was Tamsin Dunwoody and that her home in far off Wales was worth more than twice as much as the modest local farm house home of the Conservative candidate. The class war attacks may have upset some electors, but the most damaging aspect was that they demonstrated a lack of honesty about the Dunwoody campaign and an inability to engage on local matters.

The deeping economic problems, the falling reputation of “Bottler” Brown, and the dishonest campaign of a light-weight candidate hoping to ride in on her late mother’s reputation alone, combined yesterday to give the Conservatives an historic win and by an enormous swing of almost 18%. It was a result beyond Conservative dreams, but a well-deserved success for a candidate who conducted an honest campaign with dignity, rising above the class war attacks of a poor opponent.

What the result means is harder to assess. One by-election doesn’t make or break a government. “Bottler” Brown shows every indication that he intends continuing in office, if not in power, until the last possible date which is almost two years away. During that time he hopes to find a propaganda story to refresh his fortunes but there is every indication that he will continue to make serous mistakes and cause immense hardship for the electorate, particularly for the poorest of the population.

There will be more by-elections and if the results mirror the Crew and Nantwich result that will only damage “Bottler” further, but he is insulated by the undemocratic nature of the Labour Party’s rules. Where Conservatives can replace a leader very easily, a Labour leader is very difficult to unseat by members of the Party. In his bunker and surrounded by his henchmen, “Bottler” is unlikely to volunteer to resign and most unlikely to decide on a date for the next General Election. The high probability is that, as in so many other things, an indecisive “Bottler” will have the General Election date chosen for him by the law beause there is a final date option beyond which no British Government can continue.

However, nothing is that clear cut. Rebels have threatened to vote against “Bottler”, only for the rebellion to collapse after a few lies and bribes, but that may not continue as more an more Labour MPs come to see their careers ending under “Bottler’s” leadership. They may see a change of leader as their only hope to continue to dip their hands deeply into the public purse.

There is no question that “Bottler” was already damaged and is now further wounded, trailing blood. The sharks in his own Party are circling and the Trade Unions see a weakened Government as a Government that can be pushed where it may not want to go. The Trade Union barons are likely to attmept to exact a very heavy price for their continued support. Against those prospects, “Bottler” has one bright hope. In a Parliamentary Party of pygmies, he is still a giant. There just is no one who stands out as being even equally incompetent, much less a safer pair of hands for Labour.

“Bottler” may hope that he can find a suitable bribe for electors. He borrowed almost GB£3 billion as a bribe to win the Crewe and Nantwich contest and it failed. It may even have lost votes. Soon the electors will have to pay for that bribe in extra taxes. If that happens before the next election it may destroy any possible benefit of offering future bribes.

It will be an interesting and nervous few months for the British people as “Bottler” lumbers on, in office, but not in power, having been decisively unelected by the voters of Crewe and Nantwich who turned out in large numbers similar to those expected at a general elections

BDS Newsdesk

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Thanks for a wonderful welcome home

Adrian and Louise wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who have helped to make this voyage of circumnavigation possible, to those who sent messages of support as Adrian prepared to sail away, to those who wrote and emailed during the trip, to all of those who came to make the conclusion such a memorable event today. From Adrian’s preparations, through the voyage he has been deeply touched by the generousity and good will of all those he met – to all those new and much appreciated friends.

Today has been an incredible experience for Adrian and his family. It was not until 15:30 that they were able to enjoy lunch as guests of the Commodore of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and there is a busy afternoon and evening ahead.

Below is a set of photographs very kindly supplied by the British national newspaper the Daily Express, photographer Steve Reigate.

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The cup that refreshes – courtessy Royal Navy

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A great adventure but great to be home

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Family celebration

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Adrian with two very proud sons

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Maybe its worth going round again just for a welcome like this

Over the coming days an weeks there is a task ahead to sort through the images of this outstanding achievement of an ordinary man doing something extraordinary, living a dream.

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Full Day Ahead

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Today will be a very full day for Adrian Flanagan as he ends a unique voyage – an outstanding achievement.

Perhaps the final course chosen was a gentle build up to today. Originally, Adrian considered leaving Norway and heading South and West around the Shetlands and the Scottish islands, along the West coast of Ireland and round the South West tip of England to reach the Solent. That would be a longer journey but probably his last in Barrabas before she is sold. After looking at all the options, including forecast weather and timings, It was decided that Adrian would take the shorter route into the North Sea and through the Channel to his finish line.

By taking this option, Adrian encountered progressively heavier traffic as he crossed ferry routes and approached the incredibly busy Channel. For most of his 31,000 mile voyage, he had been out of sight of land and rarely saw another ship. Company was the occasional whale, dolphins, flying fish, sea birds, walrus and polar bear – a solitary existence. Today he will be the centre of attention and surrounded by boats and people. It will be a very busy day.

For Expedition Manager and ex-wife Louise, the activity started yesterday with a full schedule of interviews and planning meetings in preparation for today.

Inevitably, this blog will not keep up with the day’s events and so many things are happening, but with the exact order still being finalized.

The Royal Navy have sent a fast patrol vessel out to meet Adrian and to escort him to his moorings at the Royal Southern Yacht Club. The Daily Telegraph is due to publish the first of two articles in the edition today. There is a live interview with BBC radio for the Johnny Walker Show. Other interviews with the press, radio and television and a well deserved celebration of an outstanding achievement.

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BRITISH YACHTSMAN COMPLETES FIRST EVER ‘VERTICAL’ CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF THE GLOBE

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Adrian with crystal polar bear presented to him in Murmansk

Intrepid sailor, Adrian Flanagan will sail in to Southampton Water tomorrow, the first person to complete a singlehanded ‘vertical’ circumnavigation of the globe, westwards around Cape Horn and across the Russian Arctic Coast. Adrian’s challenge to set the record for sailing round the world ‘over the top’ has tested the limits of his endurance. He is the only yachtsman to have ever sailed Russia’s Arctic Coast along the Northern Sea Route single-handed. Amongst many adventures, Adrian has been washed overboard, dislocated both wrists, suffered two knock-downs at Cape Horn and been tracked by pirates off Brazil, but tomorrow he will sail up the River Hamble to a tremendous welcome from family and friends.

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ADRIAN FLANAGAN ARRIVAL TIME – WEDNESDAY 21st MAY 2008 – ROYAL SOUTHERN YACHT CLUB

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Royal Southern Yacht Club moorings and club house

From the water – At 10.00am Adrian will be arriving in Southampton Water on his yacht Barrabas. At 11.00am Adrian and Barrabas will moor at the visitor’s pontoon of The Royal Southern Yacht Club at Hamble. Any change to this schedule will be posted on the front page of The Alpha Global Expedition website www.alphaglobalex.com. Directions to the Royal Southern are on their web site www.royal-southern.co.uk

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Meet and Greet Arctic style, Walrus float past Barrabas near the remote island of Ostrov Peschanyy

British yachtsman, Adrian Flanagan, 47 from Buckinghamshire will arrive at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Southampton on Wednesday morning to complete the first single-handed ‘vertical’ circumnavigation. Flanagan will have sailed more than 30,000 miles on his 40-foot Stainless Steel yacht Barrabas in pursuit of a boyhood dream inspired after he read Sir Francis Chichester’s ‘Gipsy Moth Circles the World’. Flanagan set sail in October 2005. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who became the first man to sail around the world alone without stopping described Flanagan’s voyage as, ‘seriously difficult’.

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Barrabas approaches Diamond Head Buoy off Oahu

Flanagan was forced to break his voyage twice. He said, ‘My route westwards around Cape Horn and along the Russian Arctic coast had never been done before. The delays reflect the degree of difficulty, not only physical but political.’ Only six yachts have been given permission by the Russian authorities to travel the Northern Sea Route. Two of those were Russian. All were crewed and carried a mandatory Russian ice-pilot onboard. Flanagan wanted to go it alone – single-handed and without an ice pilot. Bureaucratic delay forced Flanagan to lay up his yacht in Nome, Alaska during the winter of 2006-7. He eventually won permission to go into the militarily sensitive areas of northern Russia’s Arctic waters in July 2007. Barrabas became the first British flagged yacht to go there. Flanagan commented, ‘True adventure requires a unique aspect, something pioneering, something that’s never been done. To have become the first solo yachtsman to enter the Russian Arctic is irreducible. It is the crowning achievement of the voyage, not just for me but for everyone involved.’

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Roman Abramovich, Governor of Chukotka Province, Russian Federation

Flanagan’s Alpha Global Expedition is managed by his ex-wife, Louise. She won the support of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who is governor of Chukotka province in Siberia. Fewer single-handed sailors have gone around the notorious Cape Horn against wind and current than astronauts who have walked on the moon. His yacht sustained damage during a hurricane which forced him to call into Honolulu to make repairs before heading north to the Bering Strait. Flanagan sailed 2,000 miles of the Northern Sea Route before impenetrable ice blocked his path. A Russian icebreaker convoy transported the yacht through the ice to Murmansk. Flanagan wintered the yacht in Mehamn, northern Norway before the third and final leg of his voyage. He departed Mehamn on 1st May.

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Barrabas and HMS Mersey off the English coast

Last week the Royal Navy paid tribute by dispatching HMS Mersey to rendezvous with Flanagan at sea. Lieutenant Commander Alan Wilson described Flanagan’s voyage as ‘momentous’. Along the way Flanagan has been swept from the deck by a rogue wave without his lifeline attached, dislocated both his wrists and been shadowed by pirates off the coast of Brazil. As he sails the final miles of his global marathon Flanagan commented, ‘To live but not to dream is pointless, but to dream and not to live it is worse.’ Flanagan has two sons, Benjamin 9 and Gabriel 6. ‘Over the Top’, the book of Adrian’s epic voyage is published by Wiedenfeld & Nicolson on 9th October. Online pre-ordering at tinyurl.com/453l4j

Louise Flanagan

Expedition Manager

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Class War Attacks and Smear are failing

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The late Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody MP a rare person as a highly respected MP and at the time of her death the longest serving Labour MP.

Desperate Blair Brown Regime by-election strategists are thrashing around for a new strategy as the original plans appear to be increasing the Conservative lead in opinion polls.

Scottish Prime Minister UNELECT Gordon “Bottler” Brown’s great master plan was to ignore the normal decencies following the death of a Member of Parliament that set a by-election date for six months after the death. Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody was a much respected Labour MP who had served her constituents well and demonstrated an independent and common-sense approach to politics even though being a member of Labour “royalty”. She deserved nothing less then the normal respect in setting a date to elect her successor.

“Bottler” thought the way to bounce a win against public opinion was to set the earliest possible date, shortly following the funeral, and parachute failed Welsh MP Tamsin Dunwoody in as his candidate. Although Tamsin is the daughter of the late MP, she has very different views of politics.

This strategy was to be followed by GB£3 million of bribes in the form of reducing the damage caused by the 10p tax fiasco.

The electors of Crewe appear to have responded by increasing support for the Conservatives. They have also rejected attempts to portray the Conservative candidate as a “toff” and a “rich kid”. This was always a potentially high risk ploy because Tamsin is by far the better example of rich kid toff and the people of Crewe and Nantwich appear to be rather more interested in policies than in out-dated class warfare and dishonesty.

Newsdesk

ROYAL NAVY MORALE BOOSTER FOR SOLO YACHTSMAN

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HMS Mersey in company with SY Barrabas.

HMS Mersey, one of the Royal Navy’s newest Offshore Patrol Vessels currently undertaking Fishery Protection duties in the North Sea, was able to make a morale boosting visit to lone British yachtsman Adrian Flanagan on Fri evening.

Flanagan (47) is undertaking a world first with his single-handed, vertical circumnavigation of the globe westwards via Cape Horn and the Russian Arctic and hopes to sail his 38 ft stainless steel sloop Barrabas back home to the Hamble later this week.

HMS Mersey’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Alan Wilson Royal Navy, said:

‘I am really pleased that HMS Mersey had the opportunity to meet up with Adrian on the final leg of his momentous journey around the world. As a fellow seafarer I have the utmost respect for what he has achieved, particularly as it is all for charity. Adrian looked on fine form and his morale was obviously very high. Everyone on board is delighted that they could contribute towards Adrian’s chosen charities and wish him the very best for his return to Southampton next week.’

Find out more about HMS Mersey at:
http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.00h00100100800c008005

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Unexpected rendezvous with the Royal Navy

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HMS Mersey pictured alongside Barrabas at sunset last night

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Talk about special delivery!

Adrian Flanagan aboard Barrabas reports on his meeting last night:

position at 0700 UCT: 54.44 north, 00.05 west.

A good thing I had a shower earlier today because this evening I had some unexpected visitors. With the sea more like a lake on a calm day and only a zephyr to nudge Barrabas along at a couple of knots, I was lying on my bunk reading while waiting for the northeast winds which are due in the early hours. The Radar was on. The alarm sounded. A contact had entered the guard perimeter I’d set at 6 miles. I went topside. A ship was heading north on my starboard side. I went back to my reading. A few minutes later, the alarm sounded again. Maybe it was the same ship. I watched the Radar screen from my bunk. No, this was a second contact. I watched the blip for several minutes. Whatever it was she was moving fast and coming towards Barrabas.

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AGX Position Update

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Adrian emailed:

“Good morning – position at 0700 UCT: 54.44 north, 00.05 west. Going well. Winds arrived as expected – now making 5.3 knots nose to target. “

Current forecasts for the next four days are looking good although the North Sea is notorious for its sudden mood changes.

The wind kicked in yesterday a little later than expected but is now as forecast. Under present conditions, Barrabas will be visible from the shore for much of the remaining distance back home to the Solent. Adrian is expected to ‘cut the corner’ as he approaches the Wash to reduce distance and to avoid the sand banks. He may be visible again from the North Norfolk coast and is expected to work close in from Winterton Point, following the shore line in past Caister, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Southwold and Aldeburgh. On this section he will come within a few hundred metres of the shore and Barrabas is highly visible in her unpainted stainless steel construction with the bright red survival dinghy lashed to the foredeck.

For those intending to go out to meet Adrian as he passes, please give him sea room but he will be delighted to see you.

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