Weston-super-Mare RAF veteran sails around UK in 'life-changing' trip

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:36 19 October 2017

Gary Alleyne onboard the Spirit Of Falmouth. Picture: Gary Alleyne

Gary Alleyne onboard the Spirit Of Falmouth. Picture: Gary Alleyne

Archant

A Weston-super-Mare RAF veteran has returned from a 'life-changing' 2,000-mile sailing trip around the UK.

Former Royal Air Forces airman Gary Alleyne, aged 60, took part in the Turn To Starboard Round Britain Challenge which saw him hit the high seas in the 92ft vessel Spirit Of Falmouth.

Gary was joined by 16 other veterans on the trip which started from Falmouth Harbour on August 5.

The journey then took the crew to destinations including St Ives, Padstow, Angelsea, Liverpool, the Isle of Man, Aberdeen and Newcastle before arriving back in the South Weston on October 1.

Gary told the Mercury: “I have been seasick, terrified, frightened, happy and sad.

The tall ship - Turn To Starboard.The tall ship - Turn To Starboard.

“I started off unsure of myself and finished up as being properly self-confident and an unconsciously competent deckhand.”

Gary served in the RAF for 13 years and completed tours in the Falklands, Germany, Northern Ireland, the Gulf War and Bosnia.

Following his discharge he battled with mental health issues and was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder in 2007.

Upon his arrival back home he said he has experienced ‘land-sickness’ and has slept for three nights and two days.

Gary Alleyne taking a turn at the helm during his sailing training.Gary Alleyne taking a turn at the helm during his sailing training.

He added: “It’s really quite strange not being rocked to sleep by the motion of the ship and hearing the gentle slop-slop of the sea against the hull, the snoring, the praying, the screams, the banter and the laughter.

“The camaraderie is what I will miss the most. It is so quiet in my bedroom I can hear my watch ticking.

“I have shared such a special experience with my shipmates which has become life-changing for me.

“For the first time since leaving Bosnia in 1995, negative, self-destructive thoughts and behaviours are just a distant memory.

The 'Spirit of Falmouth' taken just after her paint job.The 'Spirit of Falmouth' taken just after her paint job.

“I now feel properly self-confident and look forward to whatever tomorrow may bring. I am no longer frightened of my own shadow. I no longer feel so cross all the time.”

The expedition was run by Turn To Starboard, a charity which uses sailing courses to support Armed Forces personnel who have been affected by military operations.

For support the charity, visit the website.

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