My new Contessa 26

Small Boat - Big Dreams….. Photographing The Shipping Forecast


I love taking photographs and I love sailing boats. The dream is to sail to the places I want to photograph and then to share the story behind the pictures. Each image on the website might come with a little video telling the story behind its creation. 

I’d like to complete my book "The Shipping Forecast" by sailing around the UK and beyond, taking pictures as I go. I’m even toying with the idea of a YouTube channel “ The Sailing Photographer “or something..

Of course to do this, I needed a boat. And a budget boat at that. And a boat that just might get me as far as the Faroe Islands  and Norway for this Shipping Forecast project.

If I'm being honest the whole scheme is impractical and daft. There are countless reasons not to do it: It makes no sense going sailing during our busy season. The last time I sailed serious sea miles we used a sextant to navigate. I've never skippered a yacht before. And sailboats are a very very slow way of getting places. But still....

Meet  “No Doubt”, my first yacht. She’s a 1969 Contessa 26 - a legendary classic boat and older than I am. I found her in Southampton and bought her on the spot a couple weeks ago for £6,500. The right boat can be very much like falling in love and very very exciting. 

Rosie ( my 15 year old) and I sailed her home from Southampton to Cowes a few days later. Despite destroying the starter motor by forgetting to turn on the diesel we had a wonderful day to remember.



A few months ago I was thinking I could race to the North of Scotland in June, photographing and ticking Sea Areas left on list as I went, and then complete the project by sailing back down the east coast in September. But… I’m always racing around, and I realised I didn’t want to just race through say the Hebrides, but enjoy the experience and sail with my young girls Rosie and Tabby.( Alas my wife the lovely Clare is not keen on life afloat..)

And so now Rosie and I plan to sail No Doubt to the Scillies in early June ( Sea Area Sole). I’m hoping, weather and tide Gods willing, we can photograph the famous Eddystone Lighthouse ( Sea Area Plymouth) on the way. Then maybe on to Lundy Island (Sea Area Lundy).

When Rosie returns to school I hope to point No Doubts North and head to the Hebrides. I’ll have to return to the day job in the gallery for a while, leaving No Doubt in Scotland, before returning to her for a week or so in August to cruise the Scottish Islands with my 13 year old Tabatha.

That’s the plan for now at least! Sailing and art. What happens after August I have no idea.  And of course the Sea Gods may have their own plans.  But it’s good to dream right?


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Aw thank you Emma. Not entirely sure what we are getting ourselves into. But exciting times!
Neil x


Amazing adventure, and what a trip to share with your girls. We have two of your photos in our house already and I can’t wait to see the pictures from this journey! Wishing you all the best from a fellow sailor.


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