Kevin & Ann Costello

“Our adventure – how did it all come about?”

That’s a very good question, to tell our story we must go back to 1992. We have always shared the same out look in life “work hard, play hard – never settle for the norm!”
We were never going to be cutting our lawns and washing cars on a Sunday morning.
My career was beginning to develop, I vented my frustrations playing rugby for the same club that I had been associated since a boy of fourteen. Ann did the “good wife thing” tolerating my job and associated periods away from home, putting up with my Saturday afternoons then, joining me for the celebrations. Ann could always party longer than me! During the closed season, with no rugby we always went away at weekends, catching up with family, friends or just exploring the countryside.
We always had gypsy blood in our veins we would regularly be told.

A change of fate.

In 1992, playing against Ashington, Northumberland I sustained a back injury, an injury that would change our lives completely. I had damaged two discs in my lower back, eventually when all treatment failed, an operation was under taken to remove the more problematic disc.

It took approximately five months to return fully to work, although, not fully detached from it as I was assigned projects that would keep me busy at home. The recovery process was very slow back then, rest, rest and more rest. Today it is exercise, exercise and more exercise. Unable to play rugby, we drifted away from the sport. I tried coaching the youngsters – even considered refereeing. I needed a hobby!

Found a hobby?

During the recovery period Ann had kept my mind occupied with books and monthly publications. I had a brain wave – “Ann, lets get a boat!” We began looking for a motor cruiser. We needed some thing obviously sea worthy, but, that could also sleep 4/5 people. The experience could be shared with our children – whether they liked it or not. We began shopping. I worked with a guy who had a motor cruiser berthed at Amble, Northumberland. I managed to gain an invite to go out for the day – we were excited. It was a lovely vessel, it would certainly suit our needs I thought. Dave and Carol took her slowly out of her berth with my help, I handed them a rope.
It suddenly hit me that this was our (Ann & I) first trip to sea in a relatively small boat.
Dave was proud of his gadgets, switching on his autopilot we were off north through the Farne Islands, north as far as Holy Island. I enquired “what do we do now Dave?” “Nothing” Dave replied.
The scenery, (castles on every hill) and wildlife was fantastic, Ann and I were hooked on this cruising stuff. The excellent weather, sea like glass combined with the resulting sun tan further persuaded us. We travelled north to Holy Island, Dave disengaged the autopilot, turned the boat around, reset the pilot and we returned to Amble. It was a great day!

It was a fifty minute drive home, little was said as we reflected on the day. I said to Ann “what did you think of those sailboats in Alnmouth bay?” “They looked pretty – are you considering a sailboat?” Ann said. I never really answered. I had a great day but I was unsure if a motor cruiser would keep me occupied – there must be more too it? I read some more.
I discussed my thoughts with Ann, “let’s get a sailboat?” “Can you sail?” Ann replied. “No, I will read a book” I replied, and I did, in fact I read several

Let’s go sailing.

We purchased our first sailboat in February 1994. Verica, a Jaguar 22 equipped with a lifting keel, its shallow draft would provide greater cruising flexibility. We purchased her from the south coast, she came with a trailer. The 16 hour journey to Amble, Northumberland was an interesting one to say the least.
We then put the theory into practice, at times interesting, funny, and some times a little frightening, although I would not have said that at the time. Safety was and still is of utmost priority, I further strengthen our knowledge with formal qualifications.
We then cruised the Northumberland coastline, and as far south as the Tyne – we were now definitely hooked on sailing. If the weather allowed we sailed, if not we stayed aboard and enjoyed the area by car. This we did all year round, that winter we woke up to find that the marina had frozen over around us!

We made a number of friends in the marina, some lived aboard, some, retired, and sailed to Europe. We were fascinated, that people would do such a thing – I read more and more. We fell in love with Northumberland and all it offered, we wanted to move our home to live by the sea. It was only 40 minutes to where I worked, travelling out side of the rush hours. The house went up for sale.

A dream is born.

Things moved faster than we thought, next doors mum and dad wanted to buy our house. The price was agreed and we had no where to live! We did not want to be forced into buying just any thing so we discussed renting one Sunday afternoon. Ann went quiet, then said “we are considering a bigger sailboat, why not buy one to live on?” I was definitely game for that! We discussed putting our belongings into storage to ensure we could move back into property should we not like the life style. “Waste of money storage, of coarse we will like it” was Ann’s reply. We stored with family what we thought we would need to live aboard, and disposed of the rest of our belongings. Our thoughts began to wander further, what if we were to sail off like the people we had known? Interestingly only 15 – 20% of people that plan to do it actually do!

We were now dreaming and scheming, I began to educate myself as to what type of vessel we would need for such an adventure. Not to hinder the house sale Ann and I lived on Verica for six months until our ideal vessel could be found. We still recall how much we laughed during that time, people thought we were mad. If we could live on such a small vessel, we could certainly live on one twice the size!
The ideal vessel was defined as, steel, no more than 13 meters as there would only be Ann and I, we began looking.

In April 1996 we found a vessel, “Condor” in Cork, Ireland. We visited twice, agreed a price, and sailed her back to Northumberland via the English Channel in May. We then moved on board and sold Verica. We began to plan our adventure, reading every thing we could get our hands on, talking to people who were actually doing it. We declared our intension to our family, within 5 years we would be off, they truly did think we were weird.

Off to the USA

Mid 1998, a further change of fate – I was asked by my employer to spend some time, in the USA, Ann was to come with me. There was, as there always is, a risk, my current position would be filled, therefore should any thing go wrong in the USA there may be nothing for me in the UK to return to.
We were going to the USA! We de-commissioned Condor and went to the USA. We loved the experience, spending almost two years there. We began sailing on Lake Michigan 2-3 times a week, still enjoying our passion for the water. We began discussions with a professional skipper to have Condor relocated to the USA, I was to join him for the Atlantic crossing. We also made some wonderful friends, we still stay in touch. Our spare bedroom was always occupied with friends and family visiting, we enjoyed our stay in the USA.


At the end of 1998, a bomb shell was dropped – we were to return to the UK. The procurement of my company by its major competitor was to bring about radical re-structure of the whole organisation – ouch!
We considered sailing off into the sunset upon our return but neither Condor, nor we, for various reasons were not ready. I was hopeful to secure employment in the north east allowing us to return to our live aboard life style, which was not to be.

Back to the UK and the birth of “Sailaway”

We now had to re-commission Condor, our daughter Amy had contrived a new name based on our dreams. We agreed to rename her “Sailaway”. We are not superstitious and therefore were not concerned with “old men’s tails” about the changing of a vessels name. Sailaway has proven her loyalty to us in all conditions over thousands of miles since.

In August 2000 we relocated Sailaway to Liverpool, the route taking us around the northern coast of Scotland and through the Caledonian Canal.


From the west coast of Scotland, we headed for the Isle of Man, then Liverpool. We continued to cruise the local coastline, including, Isle of Man, West Coast, North Wales and Ireland (east and south coast)

Relocated to Milford Haven

In July 2003 Sailaway was relocated to Milford Haven, to assist myself, as Ann was unable to take time off work, Lee and David crewed.


We cruised The Haven, Wales (West Coast), North Devon/Cornwall, Ireland and the Scilly Isles, at times sharing the experience with friends and family.

The Adventure begins

In September 2005 we relocated Sailaway to Liverpool. Due to a further twist of fate, we will leave Liverpool in March 2007, making our way south, across the Channel, and to France in April. Due to insurance restrictions we cannot cross the Bay of Biscay until May, due to the uncertain nature of that notorious section of the Atlantic.

Destination – Who knows?




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