Sailor’s six and-a-half week trip round the UK for Mind

An intrepid sailor has returned to shore after boating around the country in support of a mental health charity, Mind.

Stephen Kingsbury has completed sailing more than 2,000 nautical miles around the UK in just six-and-a-half weeks. The 52-year-old, who lives in Harwich, set sail from the town on June 2 and headed clockwise around the country.

His quest has raised more than £900 for mid and north Essex Mind – a mental health charity providing counselling, peer support and practical support for children and adults.

Stephen said the highlight of his trip was seeing a family of dolphins swimming with his yacht when he was sailing around the west coast of Scotland.

He said: “I saw some fantastic dolphins which swam with the boat. There were about 30 of them diving around the bow, and it was amazing to see. They were clearly enjoying our company and there was definitely a connection between them and us.”

Stephen was sailing with a maximum of three people on board at a time, and had different crew members each week to help him sail. They sailed on Stephen’s 33-foot yacht named Somersetbrook, which he keeps in Harwich.

One of the main lessons Stephen learned along the journey was to always listen to the advice of local fisherman who know how the sea works. He said: “There were a few dodgy bits of weather around Scotland, so you have to get the tides right so you are not stuck in rough seas.”

Due to good weather and light evenings, Stephen was able to finish his trip nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. He said: “Up in Scotland it does not get dark this time of year. The days just turned into twilight and then the glow of the sunrise appeared on the water in the mornings. So I got around the country quicker than I had anticipated.”

There were only about three occasions where Stephen had to stop at harbours until the bad weather passed.

Stephen, who works as is a pianist on a cruise ship, said he would like to sail to the France, Portugal and Spain next year for charity. He said: “I like going somewhere exciting and having a destination to sail to.”

A mid and north Essex Mind spokesman said: “We are extremely grateful to Stephen for fundraising for us during his trip, it was a huge achievement to complete the challenge and we enjoyed following his progress. It is so important that we open up the conversation about mental health and raise awareness of the services available to support people. Stephen’s fundraising will ensure our services continue to run and grow in order to support people in the local area.”

Story by Robbie Bryson, Daily Gazette

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