Climate Change

Monday April 22nd 2019

Setting off to sail 350 miles from Lowestoft to Falmouth, you would think you could get away from the Extinction Rebellion people bringing central London to a standstill…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for saving the planet – also, I’d rather climate change didn’t start setting off unseasonal hurricanes.

But Global Warming and Greta Thunberg and the pink boat in Piccadilly Circus seemed to take over the whole voyage: Every time I picked up Radio 2 there were more arrests and when the 4G signal reappeared off St Catherine’s point, someone on the BBC website had calculated that in order to be carbon neutral by 2025, we are going to need another 130,000 wind turbines.

That’s right:130,000! Apparently, they will take up an area twice the size of Wales – except of course they won’t actually be in Wales, they’ll be offshore. Nobody minds offshore wind farms. After all, there’s nothing offshore is there? Just a lot of sea…

Well, yes – and that’s the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I like wind turbines. There is something elegant them – the sails rotating in endless slow circles pumping out the kilowatts. They’re strangely beautiful – in a technological sort of way.

I just don’t want to have to get in among them – especially with the tide running and the wind dropping…

And they’re all over the place: I never knew about the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm. I am familiar with the Gunfleet Sands Wind Farm – although the Gunfleet Sands (2) was a surprise – as was Gunfleet (3) and, come to that, Gunfleet Demonstration Wind Farm.

The course did avoid the London Array and the Kentish Flats Wind Farms but that still left the Thanet Wind Farm which, being just off the top corner of Kent, is really inconvenient.

It was a relief, somehow, to dive into the traffic of the Dover Strait – at least the ferries get out of the way. But what a minute, what was this off Selsey? According to the chart, The Rampion Wind Farm is “under construction”. Oh no, it’s not. It’s up and running with some jazzy new turbines complete with, stylishly curved sails tipped off with red paint like a new airliner.)

I don’t want to be a Global Warming denier because that’s worse than being an offshore tax advisor or an MP and my predilection for sailing a small boat for my own pleasure doesn’t count for much when set against the survival of the planet – but is this going to be the end of sailing as we know it?

I’ve just looked at the map and discover that when I go and see my son at university in Liverpool next month, I will have to find my way either through or round the Rhyl Wind Farm and then the Gwynt-y-Mor Wind Farm – and that’s before I even get to the North Hoyle and the Burbo Bank Wind Farms…


There are three things Roy Marshall likes to do.

He likes to spend his mornings sitting in his Aladdin’s Cave of nautical junk and wait for people like me.

He likes to raise money for the Lifeboat.

And he likes to talk.

I’ve been in Oulton Broad, just up the lake from Lowestoft for five weeks now – or at least Samsara has while I went home and took my youngest skiing. But I’ve spent enough time here to get to know a bit about Roy.

It started off when I messed up the delivery address for a parcel and Roy took it in. A condition of Roy taking in parcels is a pound the Lifeboat box – but that entitled me to a 25% discount on a snap shackle.

Then I went back and donated my old anchor connector. After that, it was a hawse pipe for an aneroid barometer. Places like this can become addictive.

Roy hobbles about his treasures, knowing exactly where he can lay his hand on a 9mm bulldog grip or a tank for a 1968 Seagull.

He hobbles thanks to a kicking he got from a pair of visitors at HM Prison Blundeston. They were busy delivering a consignment of heroin when Roy, as the prison’s security officer, decided to confront them.

Roy isn’t worried about confronting anyone – it might have something to do with boxing for the Navy in his youth (Combined Services Light-Heavyweight Champion, 1975).

All this I learned while sorting through anodes and clevis pins and full-flow ball valves and a complete stern tube lubricator.

“I had a bit of a reputation for being aggressive,” he remarked as if talking about the weather. “That’s why they made me the gunner in the Falklands.”

The gunner. Not a gunner?

Yes, the Admiralty had posted him to a requisitioned trawler. They took off all the fishing gear and refitted it as a minesweeper – but most of the time Roy and his shipmates ferried the SAS and the SBS around South Georgia. The trawler didn’t have any armament when they started out. But then, in view of what they were getting up to, the powers-that-be found a spare 20mm cannon and gave it to Roy so that he could blast away at the Argentinian bombers in San Carlos.

“Never hit a sausage, though.” he said. “But then nor did they, most of the time. They’d fitted propeller fuses to their bombs and then came in so low that there was no time for the propellers to spin long enough to arm the explosive. Most of the bombs just bounced off.”

So how much has he raised for the Lifeboat?

He pulled out a sheaf of receipts: “I’m the third highest donor…”


“In Lowestoft.”

Good for you, Roy!