Suffolk man sailed 3,600 miles to avoid lockdown

John Passmore enjoyed spending his lockdown all at sea

John Passmore enjoyed spending his lockdown all at sea - Credit: John Passmore

As the nation prepared to go into lockdown last spring, an avid sailor was preparing for a very different type of solitary confinement.

Former journalist John Passmore from Woodbridge traversed the Atlantic to avoid the coronavirus. 

Mr Passmore is an experienced sailor and spends most of his time on his boat. 

Life at sea was not always easy for John Passmore

Life at sea was not always easy for John Passmore - Credit: John Passmore

"It's something I've wanted to do all my life," said Mr Passmore.

He and his wife had previously tried to live on a boat before, many years ago but found it was not feasible with their growing family at the time. 


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About three years ago Mr Passmore bought a new boat and fell in love with the water all over again. 

"I liked it so much I kept spending more and more time on it," said Mr Passmore. 

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"I was effectively living on the boat."

Mr Passmore would meet up with his family from time to time and took his boat to meet them for family holidays.

"It worked well for everybody," said Mr Passmore. 

Last year, Mr Passmore was on his boat in Lowestoft when he heard about the coronavirus and the impact it was having on sailors who were starting to be barred entry from ports around the world.

"I panicked basically," said Mr Passmore.

"So I just upped and left that very day."

Mr Passmore decided to sail north to Scotland before sailing down to the Azores off the coast of Portugal. 

The trip wasn't without its difficulties, Mr Passmore's mainsail ended up shredded, he ran short of water and a leaking gas pipe meant he had no hot food. 

Inside life on John Passmore's boat 

Inside life on John Passmore's boat - Credit: John Passmore

Mr Passmore also couldn't leave the boat once he was in port because of restrictions. 

Nevertheless Mr Passmore still enjoyed his time at sea and completed his 3,600-mile trip in 42 days. 

Mr Passmore wrote a blog about his experiences and has since featured on Radio 2. 

"People all over the country were saying I was some sort of embodiment of the national lockdown dream," said Mr Passmore. 

In fact his story was so well-received that Mr Passmore wrote a book called 'Old Man Sailing'. 

"People are snapping it up which is very gratifying," said Mr Passmore. 

Mr Passmore is back on his boat and is currently off the Essex coast. 

He will return to dry land soon to have his coronavirus vaccine but says he will be off again soon on another voyage. 

"I suspect I might end up doing the same sort of thing this year," said Mr Passmore. 

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