LONG READ,  thinking

The Wrong Man?

This is a question I have asked myself thousands of times. Am I the wrong man for the job? Could a better woman, man, or any other type of human do a better job?

Why do I ask? Because obviously as the man for the job I am failing miserably. Why? Because since I started this “project” nearly twenty years I can’t see any change in the world for the better whatever people might say. I actually believe the world (human world, I don’t know about the other species) is becoming a worse place to live.

One might argue that people’s quality of life is improving, access to healthcare is improving, access to education and employment is improving; people have more comfortable homes, technology, better hygiene… Oh, unless you are amongst the hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty around the world, and that includes westernised industrial countries. Poverty is just the start. Let’s start adding on other stuff. Let’s add war, domestic violence, gang violence, interracial violence, drunken violence, religious violence, drug violence, government violence, organised crime violence, sex violence…

Phew the list is starting to get quite big and we have just started…

So to begin with ladies and gentlemen, we have violence in its myriad of forms, then we have poverty. It’s a bad start isn’t it? Let’s not include murder yet – murder of humans and then murder of other species to satiate the palate of the murderous human beings!

Let’s look at this a little more closely shall we?

Murder is defined as “The killing of another person without justification or excuse, especially the crime of killing a person with malice aforethought or with recklessness manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

Violence is defined as “Behavior or treatment in which physical force is exerted for the purpose of causing damage or injury.”

Poverty is defined as “The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts”

Do poverty and violence have a correlation? According to some they do…


Are all poor people violent? I think not.

My parents grew up in Glasgow in Scotland during the second world war which was awash with poverty, and poor housing, but they didn’t join street gangs, or rob people, or banks.

Does the wandering monk who has renounced his wordly goods and has nothing but the clothes on his back steal to support himself?

I personally over the last year, due to a perfect storm of swirling problems, found myself sitting aboard ariana, penniless, well, down to my last £1.39 in my bank accounts, still owing marina fees, and having to maintain the boat to ocean going standard, and feed my faithful labrador Hari, unable to move forward or backward, sideways, or any other way with my projects! I was well and truly screwed.

As a person who has avoided contact with government agencies as much as possible I had no access to unemployment benefit or housing benefit, and anyway, as a person who runs a company and a not for profit organisation, and a person who owns a 55 foot ocean going yacht, I probably wasn’t going to attract much sympathy from the local government!

People advised me to sell Ariana and just buy a house with the proceeds, get a job, and give up all of my projects, which would definitely have solved the financial crisis at the time, but given that I have spent over 20 years on this project, would not have made me happy to just give up in the middle of it. It would have made me miserable (more miserable). And anyway, Ariana was my home as well as my project. Why should I be forced to sell my home to solve a temporary cashflow problem?

I’m sure some people reading this will have no sympathy for me. And neither you should. It was a problem all of my own making. I spent too much and didn’t bring enough in. You see, without money, every great idea or project stops. And that’s what happened to me. No sympathy required.

Although it did put everything into perspective. Here I was, a man dedicated to creating a better world through creating a better me, penniless, alone, in a sailing boat I couldn’t afford to maintain, in one of the worst places I could imagine, completely stuck. This was one situation I couldn’t think my way out of.

“Get a job” said everyone. But where? The only work around here was either in the prison service, there’s two of them here… or maybe try to get a job in a pub or cafe. But I couldn’t see me doing either. And anyway, the basic wage I received wouldn’t even be enough to cover the mooring fees. For the uninitiated, mooring fees are about the same as renting a 2 bedroom house in England, except you have to bring your own house with you! I didn’t have crew so I couldn’t just sail across the ocean, and anyway it was the wrong time of year, and I didn’t have any money to put any fuel in the boat, or pay for food.

It was becoming an impossible situation. Catch 22. I couldn’t stay and I couldn’t go.

As living on board a yacht essentially deemed me as someone of no fixed abode (generally a euphemism for anyone who is homeless) I wouldn’t be able to claim any support from the government. In fact, without a permanent address most employers wouldn’t employ you, and you certainly wouldn’t be able to operate a bank account (unless it was registered at a family or friend’s address.) I don’t understand why someone who chooses to live a life of freedom on a boat is considered homeless.

All I know is “The system” definitely isn’t geared up for the likes of me, and neither it should be. I am someone who chooses to live outside of the confines of the society, but at the same time within it! Unfortunately that freedom comes with a cost, especially since I chose the route to freedom aboard a sailing yacht. I don’t pay tax because I don’t earn enough, and even if I did, would rather pay for what I use rather than giving the government a blank cheque to waste on projects that I don’t agree with. So why should I try to claim money that has been paid by hard working people? I think that is highly unethical.

Once again Catch-22.

I could have applied for a loan, but as someone with no income, and a poor credit rating, that was off the table. I could have tried to sell the products that I had purchased en-route through the canarias, madeira, and the azores, but I had no money for labels, or packaging, or for a stall at the local market. I am owed tens of thousands by a “friend” who convinced me to invest in his classic car business but he squandered all the money and left me with nothing, so that was a no go.

“Hari,” I said to my cheerful 6 year old Labrador, (bought to comfort my mum while she was stricken with cancer and dementia and I was looking after her alone). “We’re in a Catch-22 situation. There’s no way out. What the hell am I going to do?” And for the first time in my life, started to fear for my own sanity. Every time I tried to create a way out I was hit by a brick wall.

Selling Ariana was on paper the best solution, but A. that would render me homeless, and B. Could take over a year to sell. That was not going to help me out in the short term.

I began to empathise with those people who are desperate – who really have nothing, and no one to turn to, and how easily it is for someone to go from leading a fairly “normal” life to someone who is just referred to as “homeless”. I began to understand how easily I myself could become homeless and destitute, sitting on street corners on a blanket with my dog, asking for “any spare change?”

Ariana was supposed to provide a refuge, a movable sanctuary, for anyone who needed it, but it was looking increasingly likely that I was going to have to find sanctuary somewhere else, and one that took Labradors also. I was getting desperate myself. The marina needed their fees paid, and I needed to eat. Fortunately, I had stocked the boat pretty well with dried goods during the infamous covid-19 lockdowns of 2020/21 and survived on dried noodles and soy sauce, amongst other delicacies for almost a month, until I realised that the food was running out, and I had no way to get more.

The one thing that did not cross my mind was stealing either money or food. I never even considered it. It was not in my character; I didn’t even think about it once. That surprised me.

I wondered how far I would have to go to cross that line. The line between buying an apple and stealing an apple.

I laughed how I could go from running a not for profit organisation to help create a better world, to becoming an inhabit of the local prison less than half a mile away. It wouldn’t take much. All I had to do was have my mind suggest that I go and steal some food as I didn’t have any! But it didn’t.

And all over the world there are hundreds of millions of people living in real poverty, not people like me with a temporary cashflow problem or the people living on government benefits with several children who complain about their lot despite having everything provided for them; I am talking about people who no matter what they do, or how hard they work, have very little to eat, no home, and no hope of a bright future.

I am not like them. I have had every opportunity to create a successful future for myself, I have chosen over the last 20 years or so to dedicate myself to a different direction, to try and create a better me to help create a better you without thinking carefully enough about the consequences of my thoughts and actions.

I believed foolishly that what I was creating was more important than the need to support myself, and that’s how I ended up penniless. So instead of helping people, I couldn’t even help myself. I taught people about creating resilience, and self-reliance (through the vehicle of my ocean-going yacht Ariana, and yet, when it came to it, I had no resilience, and wasn’t even close to self-reliance. This shocked me.

The problem was, on the surface I have always been a happy soul, making people laugh and trying to be kind to others at all times, but underneath I had always struggled with my mental health, having had more panic attacks than I care to remember, but due to my bubbly outgoing personality (so I think) no one believes that I have ever suffered with crippling anxiety for the last 30 years, not even my doctor, who advised me to “pull yourself together, Man”.

Hence I have suffered in silence, quietly (or not) getting on with crazy projects that no one could understand (even me).

So, back to me and my money problems. As I saw it, I had three choices. 1. Ask family and friends to help. 2. Kill myself. 3. Sell everything and give up all that I am trying to achieve. I chose option 1. Obviously! Again, not very ethical, but at the same time, the only option I could see that would help me out of this financial rut I had created.

Bailed out once again, I decided to continue with The Ariana Project, Ariana Sailing Team, The Sail Trader, The Philosophical Sailing Society, Ariana’s kitchen, and Ariana Radio!!! And we are ready to set sail once again, from the UK down to the sunnier climes of Portugal and the Canary Islands.

Things haven’t worked out the way I planned, due to my arrogance and naivety that “everything would be all right”, but this time it hasn’t.

Instead of wallowing in misery in a boat floating in a wet and windy harbour in England, I am more committed than ever to make these projects work, even when it is apparent that I am more than likely the wrong man for the job! Having a positive outlook, surrounding myself with the right people, having plenty of laughs, and an uplifting soundtrack to my life has created great things in my life in the past, and it will do again.

This is for anyone anywhere who dreams big, who puts everything they can into everything they do, to those that are told they are a failure, that they will never achieve, to those who are oppressed, downtrodden, and controlled. Everything is possible if you dig deep enough. This is the message I give myself every day. Are we the wrong man? (or woman) Probably. But why should we let that stop us!


It’s a shame that the only way to create true resilience, and self-reliance is to have lots of money! But that’s the way the human world is wired – for now.

Peace. Alan.