The Scarborough News
Heath’s Atlantic challenge after recovery from Covid
Reading a book while recovering from Covid fired up the spark of adventure again
Regal Lady owner Heath Samples is taking to the waves on a very different vessel, as he prepares for a trans-Atlantic yacht race!
Heath and his crew set sail tomorrow to take his 40ft yacht Lady L to the Canary Islands. They will set off from there in November on the World Cruising Club Atlantic Rally Crossing ... although the 53-year-old admits the furthest he has sailed so far is to Holland. Heath was recovering from Covid-19 last year and reading a sailing book that inspired him – “I thought it’s time for an adventure if I come out of this!” he said.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many people to re-evaluate what is important to them and how they would like to spend their time. But for Heath Samples, it has spurred him to undertake a challenge most wouldn’t even dream of – sailing across the Atlantic.
The 53-year-old was inspired while recovering from coronavirus by another Scarborough man who has already made the journey.
“Me and my wife Lucy got Covid-19 in October,” Heath said.
“It hit us quite hard and we could barely get off the sofa, the only thing we could do was read.
“I picked up Arthur Godfrey’s book, Under and Over the Waves, which he talks about crossing the Channel in, and suddenly started thinking of what I should have done, could have done.
“I’ve known Arthur a long time and he is a good friend. I thought it’s time for an adventure if I come out of this!”
The book planted the seed of the idea and Heath has now registered to take part in the World Cruising Club Atlantic Rally Crossing this November.
With a crew of three others – Mark Hirst, Sam Baker and Graham Cooper – he will sail from Gran Canaria across the Atlantic to Grenada, stopping en route at Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa.
Heath said: “I’ve been a member of Scarborough Yacht Club since 1986 but the furthest I’ve sailed is to Holland and back – never more than 100 miles.
“Grenada is 1,100 miles away!
“None of us have done an Atlantic crossing.”
He is no stranger to a challenge, however, or following through on a silly idea – having already crossed the Channel on a sea scooter and travelled to Newcastle and back on a jet ski. But this will be the biggest test to date.
Though the race starts on November 7, from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, Heath and his crew will set sail from Scarborough tomorrow – making their way to the start line and stopping in Portugal or Madeira on the way.
The yacht will stay in Gran Canaria for the summer with Heath and the crew flying home and then back out for the start of the race in November.
The race is expected to reach the finish line between December 1 and 6.
Heath said: “I think we’ll get to Grenada the 4th or 5th of December, we’re neither fast nor slow.
“Then I’m going to sail around the Carribean islands, returning in April sailing back via Madeira.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I wasn’t brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth, this is a privilege not lost on me.
“We’re fortunate to be in a position to do it, we can take time off work.”
Heath is most looking forward to seeing the stars, sunrises and sunsets when out on the open ocean.
He lost his mum, wellknown Scarborough businesswoman Angela Samples, to Covid last March which also inspired him to live his life to the fullest.
He added: “In the last year I think we’ve all seen you can be a long time dead.
“Sailing makes you feel alive.
“Mum was very supportive, she’d have been pleased as punch for me.”
‘It got me thinking of what I should have done, could have done ... so it’s time for an adventure!’