He is calm with clear sailing plan. He respects the asset and he wants to deliver the boat with care.
I will definitely recommend you and Mr Pavol for your service.
Odysseus Cruises is a family-run charter company based out of the island Milos, off the Souther Greek coast. Greece’s best-kept secret, Milos is a gorgeous island off the beaten path. Like Milos Island, Odysseus A Cruises offer unforgettable experiences with careful service. If you would like to find out more, check out their website or give them a call.
If you would like to find out more about our services, please get in touch.
Natasha Lambert BEM is a multi-award-winning disabled sailor and adventurer. Since 2012, Natasha has completed multiple sailing challenges on her yachts, the catamaran Blown Away and the monohull Miss Isle Too. Natasha has traversed the British, Irish, and Mediterranean seas, an Atlantic crossing in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Capital Venture Challenge, in which she raised £8,000 for her own charity, the Miss Isle School of Sip Puff Sailing.
Reliance chatted to Natasha about all things sailing: her future plans to complete a trans-Pacific crossing, her passion for fundraising, and the importance of independence and interdependence in sailing.
*This interview was conducted over Whatsapp message.
Reliance: Hi Natasha, tell me what you’ve been up to recently.
Natasha Lambert: Ok, my boat is in Valencia at the moment – it has just had some work done – antifouled services, etc. and it is just being lifted into the water today!
I am at home in Cowes now and have just been doing some talks about diversity at local schools. I am hoping to go sailing in Blown Away to Greece in the next few weeks, cruising the Ionian islands this summer. I also have a small monohull here in Cowes I sail as a day boat. I am hoping to sail through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific in the next year or so if it can be planned and arranged, but it’s a lot of work and I’m still trying to convince my mum and dad who have to organise the financial side and funding!
If I can sail the Pacific I will raise money for charity again.
R: So lots of exciting things happening now and lots of exciting things in the future!
It’s interesting you mention the important role of your parents; as a logistics company, we wanted to chat with you today about the significance of organisation in sailing. As a sailor and as a disabled sailor, you must appreciate how much prep goes into a sport that looks and feels so free once you’re finally under sail.
What kind of organising and logistical support will need to happen in order to achieve your goals of sailing the Pacific?
N: My Mum and Dad up until now have organised everything themselves, but if I’m going to sail the Pacific we will need to get my boat, Blown Away, from the Med, across the Atlantic again – although I’d like to do that I don’t think my Mum and Dad do! So we will have to get it either delivered under sail or by ship to the Caribbean, then I would sail to either New Zealand or Australia, and then we have to think about getting the boat back home! So it’s quite a big project !!!!
I will also have to have a crew, we think it is a long sail and we will stop over on different islands and will probably need crew changes.
R: Absolutely, it sounds major – three big crossings and you will be captain of at least one of them!
There’s so much work involved in sailing, do you think of sailing as a solo sport or a team one?
N: Team definitely. It takes lots of people to help me: Dad does all the tech stuff, like the adaptations I need and my sip puff system, and my mum organises phone calls and emails, picking things up and drives me around. I have a sailing coach. We train with either RNLI or other organisations, etc. Plus there are 2 carers to assist me.
R: You once said in another interview that it’s great that so many people recognise and support your work, ‘but really anyone could do it.’
Sailing is never a one-person endeavour, even if you do it alone you still need a boat and lots of equipment. Do you think sailing is an accessible sport?
N: Yes I do think it’s accessible if you have positive people around you and people willing to help. There are some really good organisations about now!
R: A good support network is essential! What organisations are you thinking of?
N: Depends where people are in the country or which country! RYA Sailabilites – we even visited a Sailability when we were in Antigua – they help lots of people. Depends on what disability you have – some have more adapted boats than others. With Mum and Dad’s help, we run a small charity to help people with complex needs sail like me with a sip puff system too.
R: You mentioned raising money as part of your Pacific crossing in the future, how important is fundraising to you?
N: Very – it means I can take part and feel a part of my community. I feel like I’m doing a job to help, it’s my way of helping.
R: I think it’s very powerful what you said about fundraising giving you a sense of agency and feeling part of the community. Is that what drew you to sailing in the first place? This sense of agency and community?
N: I liked sailing before but fundraising gives me more purpose. It makes me want to do challenges rather than just sail, although that’s nice too. Doing challenges, it’s more work and harder but it means I get to meet more people. Helping to do something for someone else is great because normally I have to have people helping me, so this way I get to do something in a special way – I hope that makes sense!
R: No it makes complete sense! Sailing and fundraising make you feel independent and in charge, but they are also activities that highlight how much we depend upon each other as well, it’s amazing.
N: Yes that’s right!
R: I saw that nearly a year ago now, your sip and puff system is now exhibited at the Greenwich Maritime Museum, how does it feel to be recognised as such an important part of sailing history?
N: Oh that was amazing! We were very surprised and honoured to have the Royal Museum contact us. Both I and Dad feel very proud, as it’s really Dad and the software he designed that allows me to sail. We went up to the museum about 3 weeks ago to see it. It was a little strange seeing my helmet on display in a case, but it looks fantastic. I have been invited up to the museum on the 10th of September to meet the Mayor of Greenwich and museum directors and to cut a ribbon on the exhibition and do a Q&A session – so looking forward to that
R: Oh that’s exciting! I’ll put it in my diary! You mentioned at the beginning of our conversation that you were talking at a school recently, how important are public engagements to you?
N: Oh really important, especially with children as they are the next generation – they ask some great questions! But hopefully, they will remember someone like me visiting their school and that it’s possible to do all sorts of great things with the right support and teamwork, no matter your ability. It’s about putting your mind and energy into something to make it work and getting help for things to work. Hopefully, people will remember me and see that anything’s possible
The school that I visited, I actually went to 15 years ago; it didn’t work for me, I didn’t have the right support, and so Mum and Dad took me out of school and home educated me. Although odd to go back, it’s a really good thing and things are changing for the better for special needs education.
I’ve also done talks with mum and dad and my sailing coach at sailing clubs, RYA conferences, and even for JPMorgan.
R: Wow, that’s such a powerful journey full circle. I think disability justice and awareness have made such leaps in the last decade. As you say, being visible and vocal is so important to inspiring people and creating change.
What do you think needs to happen in the sailing world in order to make it more accessible and increase diversity?
N: Hmm I’m not sure but I think the more disabled people that sail the better, and if it is visible and people can talk about what’s needed then more and more adaptations and help will continue to come available so I guess it’s keeping disabled sailing in the spotlight so more and more will take it up so more funding will be available.
R: I think you’re right, it’s what drove your dad to create the sip and puff technology right? Your love and sailing and desire to do more created the technology and now more and more disabled people are sailing.
We gave some of our footage to a couple of guys we know who have made it into a documentary about my sailing and they are trying to sell it to a media company. They also filmed me sailing here too and took videos of us all at home. I think it’s about a 20-minute documentary.
We are meeting them again this weekend to see if they have any updates but they are also keen to know my plans for the next challenge, it would be fab if they could film some of the Pacific crossing.
R: Video is such an easy way to reach people nowadays and I think it’s the best way to see sailing in action.
What would you tell someone who wanted to give sailing a go but maybe wasn’t sure if it’s for them?
N: I would definitely say have a go and try it – make sure to try it with someone who can give you all the information you need, so ask as many questions as you can before going out [on the water], so you are confident.
Thank you to Reliance Yachts for helping get Blown Away off the ship in Palma. It was a great help and definitely a relief for my Dad to have the help! If we do decide to do the Pacific, we will contact Reliance Yachts for some advice regarding entering and clearing into various counties and the Panama Canal!
In this interview series, we speak to former Reliance delivery captains, who’ve since moved on, about what they do now and how working as a delivery captain informed their life today. This month Jennifer spoke to Simon Patterson, CEO of the MSP Technologies, Multi Source Power, a hybrid energy storage company, who initially worked as a Reliance delivery skipper from 1997-1999. They chatted about self-sufficiency, boat building and finding creative solutions, accompanied by a couple of barnyard cameos.
Reliance: Thank you for agreeing to chat with me today. What we wanted to talk about really is your current work and how working as a delivery skipper informed and led to where you are now.
Simon: Well in essence, I am now the CEO of MSP Technologies, otherwise known as Multi Source Power. And we are very much in the large-scale energy storage game. So, we build big batteries that help store rooftop solar, grid services, and help the national grid stay balanced. And very strangely it is a direct result of my marine history.
To summarise it quickly, in essence I studied technical theatre at university – which was all about building things. I then decided that that wasn’t really for me and decided to go get my Yachtmaster and somehow managed to get a job with Reliance – ended up doing about 30-40 Transatlantics, a couple of Pacifics, and a few Indians, etc, etc.
I had an absolutely marvellous time. Ended up moving from that [yacht delivery] to engineering, then got into being a bosun and an engineer on the big classics. I sailed boats like Thendara and all sorts of other lovely big 100 foot plus classics. It was great! I did that for a few years, then I went back to the UK and became a boat builder. Set up a company called Patterson Boatworks with my brother, and we ran a relatively successful boatbuilding business for 5,6,7 years.
Then one day, a chap came in, [he] said, ‘I want an electric boat, but I want to go really fast’ – this was way before lithium was a thing – and that took me to Taiwan where I managed to find this brand-new technology in the form of lithium and a long time ago, we managed to build the Elektra, a very fast electric boat, that became quite famous. That electric boat sort of got me on the path of
meeting lots of new and exciting factory people. Then eventually we sort of drifted away from the marine industry, and now, as a direct result of everything floaty boaty, I’m the CEO of a battery storage company. But yeah, that’s kind of my plotted history.
Well, that’s just an incredible history in and of itself. But I suppose what we are mostly interested in is how working for Reliance influenced your journey – I know you said that it got you into the marine industry, which subsequently got you into boatbuilding and engineering. But do you see any of the everyday work and skills needed in boat delivery reverberating in your work today?
Well, there are sort of two sides, in my humble opinion. Sorry if you can hear noises in the background, I’m being followed around by a turkey – I’m also a farmer, I happen to live on a farm, so in the mornings I’m a farmer, and then in the afternoon I’m the CEO of an engineering company.
I love that.
I encountered two different types of skipper when I was working for Reliance. There were the older guys who, you know, they were doing it almost because – this is the wrong word – but retired into it. And then there were the younger guys, like me, who were looking for a route into sailing. But there was just something about the lifestyle that actually really suited me – I really enjoyed it. I really liked being at sea. It just…it just felt right, you know? But at the same time, it gave me
a) a huge amount of rapidly accrued miles
b) a huge amount of rapidly accrued experience
Then I suppose at the same time, [it gave me] enough confidence, because I’d been in enough strange places, enough strange situations, seen enough…enough oddities and that stood me in really good stead for future life. I could pretty much [do] anything in [any] strange country, any strange port. But that’s all stuff that you sort of had to learn to do as a direct result of working for Reliance. There were lots of…it was a very interesting career. I mean I worked for Nick [Reliance] for nearly four years. But see, I was the flip side, I was using Reliance as a steppingstone to go forward. Whereas I suppose there are other who are happily, fully there just doing their thing in later life. I sometimes think about it, I think ‘oh wouldn’t it be nice, maybe I’ll just phone Nick and jump across the Atlantic?’
Maybe you can become one of those skippers who ‘retires’ into it – come back full circle.
[Laughs] Yeah but I’ve got a farm now. I’ve got too many cows to take care of, can’t take them across the Atlantic.
You said that you loved this nomadic travelling lifestyle, but then you have sort of moved completely away from that, or rather you’re very of grounded in the land now.
Yeah – well I mean I know quite a lot of sailing farmers actually, weirdly.
Yeah…I don’t know…I think there is an element of self-determination you know? Farming is sort of a bit similar. We’re kind of on our own. And sailing as a captain is a bit the same – complete master of your own destiny.
But then there are so many other things as well. You learn about financial management, you learn about food, you learn about…you know…just everything. But then there was this time that you would have this complete clarity because you don’t have a mobile phone, you don’t have internet access and that’s kind of lovely in this day and age.
So, it’s that immediacy in both sailing and farming – you can very directly see the results of your actions and you have to take responsibility for them I suppose.
Yeah, I think there was a great amount of that. There was this very rapid element of responsibility that is quite unusual. I was twenty-two, I think. And somebody just gave me this responsibility and sent me across the Atlantic [starts laughing]. Which always seems a bit amazing to me.
It’s amazing speaking to yourself and others and seeing all the different paths people have forged from working in yacht delivery. Everyone is so different. You said that you saw two different types of skippers – people who’ve retired into it and people who are using it as a steppingstone – but there are also some rare people who’ve managed to make a long-lasting career out it.
I mean, I ended up in the superyacht game. But that wasn’t deliberate. I was kind of between jobs with you guys, I met a girl in Greece who happened to be a Kiwi, and so I ended up in New Zealand. I met some people whilst sailing in the Med and then I get a phone call from France saying we want you to work on this boat because we want to win the America’s Cup Jubilee. I said ok…that’s sounds interesting. My girlfriend said it’s me or the boat, and I chose the boat.
Tell me about the America’s Cup Jubilee.
It was the 100-year anniversary of the America’s Cup and they decided to have this big race in Cowes, invite the 100 best boats in the world. And the owner of this particular boat, Thendara, put together a crew and I was lucky enough to be invited to do it.
So, I was in New Zealand and then a couple of days later I was in Antibes – never really looked back.
So, the Jubilee was a real turning point in your career then? I’m not sure if it’s something unique to people who work on boats, or if it happens in other career paths [sectors], but there seems to be a lot of spontaneity and luck involved in people’s journeys.
Well, I think it can be a very clear route. There are lots of people who say I want to work on super yachts. And they, you know, become a deckhand, then they go through the courses, there is almost a sort of contrived route. Whereas becoming a sailor of a multitude of different vessels from cats [catamarans] to racing boats to bog standard charter vessels, etc., well, that really changes everything doesn’t it? Because you suddenly have this depth of experience and the ability to just…I just realised I’ve been undoing the wrong bolt while talking to you.
[Laughs] I do that. You’re talking to someone and you suddenly start fiddling with something and then next thing you know you’ve broken something.
Oh well…anyway, [break to speak to daughter about feeding her pigs]
Sorry about that.
No don’t worry. Have you ever considered getting back into sailing?
Well yeah…I’ve got this history in classics now, I keep looking at classic boats and thinking oooh I could do this, I could have that [laughs].
Yeah, can’t get away from the romance of it all.
It’s the purity of it that I like at sea…And you know there are some of the crazy places that we used to go.
Where was the craziest place you went or craziest thing you did as a delivery captain, as you say?
Craziest thing that I did was to sail into…I’ll never forget…I was sailing up to Miami…We were about four days away when the autopilot decided to die. And we cut a coke can up into tiny little strips and resoldered this board on this autopilot, resoldered it all.
But then on the way we were sailing up past Venezuela and we had a gas leak which meant me had no gas. So, we piloted this 47-foot cat into Venezuela by using a rough guide. I had a rough guide sort of booklet which gave us a drawing of the harbour and suggested various restaurants on the outside but didn’t really help with navigation. But we managed to get in there and get back out.
And then going to odd places like St. Helena, who gets to go there? You know stopping in absolutely insane beaches in the Bahamas, cleaning the boat down before dropping it off. And you meet some amazing people. A lot of the crew I sailed with back then I’m still in touch with now. It’s really interesting to watch how their careers have moved. I often wonder if it’s a direct result of what we did as sailors.
That’s why we do this series. So many delivery skippers go on to do amazing things, and such different things too. Everyone seems to get something different out of the experience.
Well, where I am now, it’s not a given, but if someone has sailing on their CV, I will generally look at them ten times more favourably because they always bring something a little bit more to the mix. Whether it just be a steadiness or breadth and depth of skills. Now that’s the nice thing about being on a boat. You’re on your little island, this is it you know? So, for me, I always gravitate towards CVs with sailing on it.
So, is there lots of people then in the kind of engineering, energy sort of sectors that have got sailing on their CV?
Ummm…well there are in my factory!
Energy storage is a relatively new and rapidly evolving industry, so there is quite a lot of head scratching – a lot of engineering and problem solving. You know how to solve x, y and z in the most sensible, safe and economic manner. The results of that actually are that, and especially in the way that we do stuff…because I have this marine and boatbuilding heritage, there could be a perceived ‘boatiness’ about what we do and build as energy storage systems.
Actually, the housings we build are designed and built like a boat, using composite materials, and foam cores. We utilise water cooling systems and take a lot of our design philosophy’s from the marine world.
Wow that’s really interesting! It’s a direct link back to your knowledge of boatbuilding and sailing. Just to end, do you have any advice or words of encouragement for those looking to work on deliveries, or even for those who never really considered it an option?
Well actually, I’ve just had one of my friends apply to Reliance and he is now sailing with you guys as crew – and loving it!
It’s a fantastic way to get away and across the world in a meaningful and exciting way, at a low cost; [you] meet people who will be friends for life and learn a lot about yourself along the way. I also believe it gives you a huge life skill: how to live and work with people, a skill that sets you in good stead for the workplace in any field.
Reliance Yacht Management is committed to providing the best logistical solutions for our clients. We go above and beyond to ensure your vessel is delivered as safely and efficiently as possible. Perhaps the safest and most efficient service Reliance can offer is our freight service.
Bourne out of collaboration and innovation, Reliance works with international shipping companies to provide efficient, speedy international delivery without compromising first-class care and tailored service. This looks like:
End-to-end delivery, exclusively delivering your yacht to the port of departure, and then from the arrival port to its final destination. Reliance Yacht Management sees every delivery through to its completion.
Independent supervision of shipping and loading process
Loading surveys, reports and documentation
Mast up or down
Exterior and interior protection
Equipment and insurance, there is a lot to international delivery, but we put the work in so our clients don’t have to. Reliance ensures that all necessary equipment needed for every step of delivery, from pre-loading cradles to onward journey first aid kits, are provided for. We aim to provide our clients with the smoothest and most thorough shipping and relocation.
Check out the gallery below for some recent yacht shipping and loading.
Another successful collaboration with Peters and May in international yacht delivery. Pictured above is the Lagoon 65, delivered by Reliance Yacht Management, and shipped onward by Peters and May, from Palma Mallorca to Phuket. Veteran delivery captain Graham Harris ensured the safe transfer of the catamaran onto the ship MV Arneborg before continuing its journey from Phuket to the Philippines. Reliance Yacht Management plays an essential link in the end-to-end delivery process, ensuring safety, quality and care at every stage of the process.
We have seen a growing demand for multimodal delivery services, taking care of yacht transfer to and from long-distance shipments. We operate in ports across the world, with current operations in the following locations: North America (Florida and Annapolis (via Baltimore)), the Caribbean (Guadeloupe and Tortola), Europe (Gdansk, Poland and Genoa, Italy), and South East Asia (Phuket and Singapore).
Port Everglades and West Palm Beach, Florida
Annapolis (via Baltimore)
If you want to find out more about our multimodal yacht delivery services, click here.
Reliance Yacht Management and Ultra Sailing have a well-established and successful partnership, stretching back many years. We deliver yachts from the major yacht manafacturers in France, and elsewhere in Europe, to Ultra’s charter hub in Split.
This week, after another successful Mediterranean delivery. We received some lovely comments from the owner of one such safely-delivered yacht:
Thanks for the professional delivery of my Astrea 42 to Trogir! Your crew was very efficient and made a safe delivery. Also I had the opportunity to have them for a dinner, and got some real valuable advice first hand. Very nice and professional people.
Every yacht delivery is a unique endeavour – every yacht is different, every day tackling the mighty Bay of Biscay is different! This level of commitment and care does not simply end at a completed delivery, but extends far back into the preparation and communication prior, and long afterwards through conscientious customer care from our captains, crew and office staff. There is a reason that some of our most successful client relationships are our longest standing ones.