Meet John. John has had a hard life. Ups and downs. A lot of downs. Maybe some of the deepest downs one might face in life. He lost it all. His livelihood, his wife, his kids, his esteem. Even his sense of who he was. His world became the confines of his prison cell. Meaning was sourced through substance abuse. Getting the next fix. A lost cause adrift in the system possibly never to break free back to a purposeful existence.
Fast forward a few months and John is painting a boat. A picture of a boat. He has picked up his palette as well as his toolbox and is finding purpose anew. He has a real talent for fine art. He says he used to sell pictures in prison, and his talent was the envy of his cellmates. Nurturing this innate talent, plus a pride in a work ethic that fell by the wayside but is gradually resurfacing, he is a skilled craftsman. In need of a focus for this aptitude.
His long term dream, at times pushed to the recesses of his mind during those darkest of moments, was to have a boat. To live on a boat, to feel the sea spray on his face and breathe the fresh air of freedom that the ocean can offer in abundance.
To achieve one’s dreams can be a long hard slog, but it’s important to have that as a focus, an impetus to persevere against adversity.
Now out of prison, clean of substance addictions, and with a newfound energy stimulated by his current environment, John is on the path towards that dream, building momentum with his painting, and his adaptable skillset and pride in his work.
John now works with a new enterprise that is based out of Liverpool Marina. This is Shadow Wind. The brainchild of James Lovett, a ‘psychological coach’/therapist and lifelong sailor, Shadow Wind is a Community Interest Company that is bringing new opportunity to the region and offering an outlet and a focus to people such as John, groups of ‘marginalised’ or ‘disadvantaged’ folks who have fallen by the wayside, through life’s circumstance, lost their way, but can have a revitalised sense of purpose and goals to aspire to: through the medium of sailing, and access to the therapeutic benefits that living and working on water can bring!
Shadow Wind offers sailing experience and a grounding in the basics of practical boatsmanship. But much more than that it offers cameraderie, a shared purpose amongst disparate individuals united under the spell of ‘Mistress Sea’!! This encompasses all aspects of sailing, not just the glamorous lifestyle of helming a yacht across the Irish Sea under the full summer sun (!), but importantly the foundation of maintaining one’s craft. And with that the basics of woodwork, joinery, painting, cleaning. Good honest work!
Since John came to Shadow Wind he has by his own admission found a new vitality in life that has kept him on the straight and narrow. He says, if it wasn’t for this outlet for his skills, talents, work ethic and a fresh environment in which to see new perspective, he would have been ‘back inside’ some time ago. The fruits of his labour are evident on the flagship vessell (Shadow Wind herself). From an earlier functional shell, now below decks has a homely feel, but conveys her status as a seaworthy craft that can empower all who set off under her mast towards new adventures!
The most important note in this story is that John has not only come back from the brink himself, but he has reunited with his family. His wife is rehabilitated from her own demons, and their kids returned from foster care. Reunited as a happy family. Not conventional, sure, but together most importantly, re-bonded and ready to progress in life as a unit.
So John is the true flagship component in this story of Shadow Wind rather than the vessell herself!
Moving forward, Shadow Wind’s ‘corporate’ mission is to spread the message throughout Merseyside and beyond, that the sea, sailing, adventure can help those who are struggling in life. It can bring people from all walks together under common goals. We can use this platform to educate the community about the mental wellbeing benefits of working hard, whilst embracing adventure to set new course in life! And with that we hope to also inspire those who journey alongside us about the fragility of our local (and global) marine environment, offering education on Ocean Literacy. We are exploring STEM opportunities for school groups and other youth networks, tying in with the local academic and scientific communities as well to forge new connections and partnerships that will promote shared values and benefit us all through this medium.
So please, get in touch with us if you want to be involved, find out more, or talk further about new partnerships that can help us build this venture and push the sails to new ‘heights’.
Importantly, heartfelt thanks to John from all at Shadow Wind for taking that first step, and casting off into the unknown...!