Ok, so as our epic high seas adventure begins on the beautiful boat the Shangri-La, let me give you a run down of the who’s who and the what’s what. The Shangri-La is a Bruce Roberts 54 foot sailing yacht she originally came from Sweden, and was built there by three Swedish guys for themselves in 1989. In 1994 Brian Key, a multimillionaire entrepreneur bought the boat and him and Dennis sailed together from Dartmouth to Torreviachia. On the way however they got caught in a particularly vicious force 12 storm which traumatised Brian Keys so much he decided he never wanted to sail again. Our Dennis, already being in love with the boat, bought her from the unfortunate Brian Keys and took her back to Bristol. After that Dennis set about revamping her and giving her a new lease of life with the help of Phil Winterton, Stuart Davis, and Bry Pearce which took 5 years altogether. Officially tarted up Dennis, with his sons and step daughters, then sailed her on her new Maiden Voyage to the Mediterranean. After two years tearing up Ibiza together, Dennis’ son Sam went on to be a commercial yacht master. After that Dennis, 3 lap dancers and 2 PR guys sailed her all the way to Egypt. Sam Franklin May, one of the PR guys, also took up sailing as his career and now is captain on a luxury motor yacht in Majorca. Leaving Egypt with only the first mate Tom (who once had a joint with Mick Jagger) they sailed via India to Thailand where Tom went back to work on a Barons boat that he’d worked for previously, leaving Dennis to meet Aeg and Nate in Phi Phi – pre writing mine the following beauties futures without ever having a clue who we were or what it could mean for us.
And here is the motley crew I will be spending the foreseeable future with:
Charlotte: our beautiful not english but MANX (Isle of Manish for those that wernt sure either) lass, she is and drinks like a champion, my fellow female compadre making up a quarter of our male dominated population. Puts up with me holding her hand in bed and together WE GOT THIS. Connection? Yeh.
Caz: Ruins every photo by looking like something out of dolce and gabana (cheers buddy), the master of the playlist, king of aggravating pythons to the point they fly out of trees and if anyone knows anywhere in the world where the Hunger Games are a legitimate thing – Sign. Him. Up.
Nate: Representing the American contingent on the boat, N-Dog doing his glistening and masculine bit is our own self styled Bear Grylls, terrible manners but we’d probably starve without him, fish live in fear, good at an annoying amount of practical things and despite an awful nail biting habit all round good egg.
Dustin: Oh Canada!! Fuckin eh. Is something like a mental drunken overexcited puppy – all of the time – there is no off switch. Can’t catch a fish to save his life, or , ours, but we love him just the same. And with rules for just about everything we say that result in doing T.E.N press-ups every time we say something wrong: he WILL get us in shape. Oh yah.
Aeg: Literally true to say that without our guide, saviour, font of all knowledge we would not have been able to see/do/meet/survive half the things we’ve done so far. Originally from Koh Yao (or Long Island) there is nothing this man doesn’t know or cannot do. Legitimate legend.
Dennis: Well for the few people in the world that haven’t heard of Dennis Charles Bidwell, here’s all you need to know. He’s 65, he’s the captain of our ship, he’s more entitled to Bob Marley pants then Bob Marley himself, his notoriety is world wide, we adore him, we’d be lost without him, theres no one like him. Parent friendly signature line : Hello Darling!”
Paul: The perfect gentleman who had the courtesy to be as excited for me AS me when I went diving and saw my first sea turtle (things he sees most days) and despite having webbed toes could of been one of the Beatles. Also has a glorious head of hair.