I’ve been in a state of enforced hibernation for the last few months and I guess I owe you all an apology and an explanation.
I’m sorry. I knew from the start that the hardest part of The Odyssey Expedition would be tackling The Pacific Ocean. Unlike The Caribbean – where the next island is just an overnight yacht trip away – the distance I need to cover in The Pacific amounts to more than Liverpool to New York and back… and back to New York. While the lower Pacific islands of Fiji and Vanuatu might be easily accessible by cruise and cargo ships, the upper Pacific Islands are next to impossible to ‘hitch a lift’ to.
This is why I intended to leave The Pacific until last. Up to this point, the lack of any outside funding for The Odyssey Expedition has not impeded my daft adventures. I (rather naively) believed that I would make enough money from the TV show to pay my way around the 14 sovereign states of Oceania, but the reality of the situation – and I think any rational person would agree with me – is that I got totally and utterly stiffed by the powers that be.
After going in for a meeting with the company in question last January, it became desperately apparent that the chances are vanishingly small of me getting any money whatsoever for single-handedly devising, shooting and presenting an eight-part television show through some of the most dangerous countries in the world.
The upfront fee – which was all spent on travel (I was given next to nothing in the way of expenses) is all I’m probably ever going to get for my troubles. D’oh!
The practical upshot of which is that not only am I flat broke, I’m also unable to pay my way around The Pacific.
Those of you reading this who live in the Middle East or Asia and have seen how much mileage these TV chaps have got out of the show (my last estimate was that each episode has been shown in excess of 70 times – that’s a good 280 hours of television right there) might understand how devilishly unfair this whole situation is. I’m not going to carp on about this matter, as far as I’m concerned it’s water under the bridge – although I can’t say that the downsizing of any given company over the coming months is going to cause me any sleepless nights – I just want you all to understand exactly why The Odyssey Expedition has come to a juddering halt.
It’s my own fault: I stupidly signed a contract that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, and it’s far too late to do anything about it now. I apologise from the bottom of my heart to you and all of my loyal followers who I’ve let down by this turn of events, but none so more than WaterAid. I wanted to make you guys proud, to stick one to the man: but the man ended up sticking me good and proper. I fought the law and, well… you know the rest.
I promise that there will be no similar lapses of judgement in the future.
If I am to have any hope of getting to the likes of Nauru, the Marshalls and Kiribati, not only do I need a boat, I need a cash sponsor. Sponsors are great when you can get them, and the likes of Vodafone and CMA-CGM really went out of their way to help me with gismos or transportation, but generally speaking it’s next to impossible to get hard cash out of a sponsorship deal.
As far as a book deal is concerned, it’s a bit of Catch-22 situation: I won’t get an advance until I finish the journey… and I need the advance to finish the journey. While I’ve had a bit of downtime I’ve been working on my next big project, but again I won’t see any readies back from that until I finish The Odyssey Expedition.
I’m beginning to think I may have inadvertently shot an albatross during that ill-fated crossing to Cape Verde.
BUT ALL IS NOT LOST! I’ve been working with fellow Brit (and friend of Odyssey superstar Lorna Brookes) Damian Pallett on a plan that will get me back to Wewak in Papua New Guinea and take me to ALL 14 NATIONS OF OCEANIA in one fell swoop.
Step forward Andrew Duncan of Ausmarine Luxury Boating. Not only has this Odyssey Legend agreed to let me use his own catamaran to do the journey, he has also agreed to fund the expedition: an expedition that will set a BRAND NEW Guinness World Record: the fastest sea journey to every sovereign state in Oceania.
No, seriously: here’s the map of the proposed route (clicky for biggie):
Obviously I have to go back to Wewak in Papua New Guinea to ‘pick up the trail’ so to speak. Check out how mad Palau is… miles from anywhere!!
We’re gearing up to be gone by the end of the month. I can’t thank Andrew and Damian enough – if we pull this off we will achieve something that has never before been attempted, never mind done. Don’t be surprised if you see the word ‘Ausmarine’ popping up all over the website over the next few weeks… I don’t care: I’d tap dance the fandango naked in St Peter’s Square to make this happen. And, by Jove, IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.
Keep the faith, we’ll get there in the end!!
1 June 2011