Ex-Army captain John Savage is planning a four year solo circumnavigation around the world for charity

East coast sailor John Savage is making his final preparations ahead of a four year solo circumnavigation around the world.

The ex-army captain, who has not undertaken any long solo passages before, sought advice from Golden Globe skipper Susie Goodall and Dutch sailor Laura Dekker, who in 2011 at the age of 16 became the youngest person to sail alone around the globe.

‘I met up with Susie prior to her Golden Globe start and picked her brains. After a long chat and seeing her boat, I learnt that was good seamanship can take you a long way and preparation is key. After looking at Laura’s approach to her voyage, it was clear that there is also an element of “just getting on with it”’ the 37-year-old told Yachting Monthly.

Savage, who first sailed at the age of two-and-a-half during a family sailing holiday on his grandfather’s Crystal 24 along the River Deben in Suffolk, did much of his training at the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre in Gosport.

He continued sailing throughout his military career, which ended in 2012 when he left the army and entered the world of private banking in the City of London.

John Savage at home sorting out ropes

Sorting out Coralee’s ropes

‘I was working in London and felt that I was not spending enough time at sea. I began looking into sailing opportunities and came across Laura Dekker’s ‘Maiden Trip’, as well as the YouTube channels ‘Sailing La Vagabond’ and ‘Sailing SV Delos’, as well as Laura Dekker and I had the realisation that a circumnavigation was not an impossible aspiration. I saw the freedom and flexibility that was out there if you put your mind to it and it was then that I decided to sail around the world,’ noted Savage, who is a Yachtmaster Cruising Instructor.

Initially he thought of circumnavigating with crew but decided this would impinge on the flexibility he craved.

He began looking for the ideal world cruiser and bought the 40ft Camper & Nicholson 40AC, Coralee in October 2016.

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The long fin keel yacht has spent the last 18 months being refitted at the Hayling Yacht Company. Work has included the replacement of much of the deck hardware apart from the winches, the removal of Coralee’s teak deck, replacing it with a more watertight grip- paint finish, and the CopperCoating of the bottom.

To date, he has sailed over 600 miles in her. ‘I have ended up with less sea trials and more sea preparation than I had hoped for, but the miles that I’ve sailed have given me confidence in her ability to look after me at sea’ reflected Savage, who has spent the last four years volunteering as a skipper for Turn to Starboard, a charity which uses sail training to help serving and retired military personnel affected by military operations.

He will be using his voyage to raise money for Turn to Starboard and the Blue Marine Foundation, which campaigns for more marine reserves and sustainable models of fishing.

The aft of the yacht Coralee

Coralee has undergone 18 months of refit work ahead of the journey

Savage is planning to start his circumnavigation from Falmouth by mid September, and will be sailing the cruising route.

This will take him to the Canaries, the Caribbean, including Bermuda which his great grandfather first surveyed 120 years ago, the Panama Canal, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, British Indian Ocean Territory, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Madagascar and South Africa.

He is then planning to detour to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia (to pay his respects to Shackleton and Lt Col Worsley) before heading back to Falmouth via the Azores.

Savage’s progress as well as links to his charitable giving page can be found at www.aswts.org.

His message to other cruisers dreaming of sailing further afield. ‘To steal from Eric Hiscock, every small boat owner has a desire to sail around the world and I have the fortunate opportunity to do that. If you want to do it, just go and do it. The worst thing is not to try. Better to try and fail then not go at all,’ he noted.