“I don’t want to be on my death bed looking back thinking I could have done more with my life.”
Catherine, on very first impressions, may not be someone you would pick out of a crowd as an intrepid adventurer but believe me when I say that despite being retired, this lady has ambition, drive and a sense of adventure you would be impressed to see in someone in their early 20’s.
Catherine is no stranger to Malcolm Gray. You may well have heard us talk about her husband Simon, who recently tried out for the Invictus Games and raises money doing challenges like ‘walking home for Christmas’ (https://www.walkinghomeforchristmas.com/). So it will be no surprise to hear that Catherine has set herself an inspiring challenge, namely sailing in the Clipper World Tour Race.
Having had a hugely successful 30-year career in the Police Force, Catherine recently attended a conference for Policewomen where she heard an inspirational talk that got her thinking about her retirement, her mortality and, of course, her next adventure.
She wanted a challenge that was “a balance of crazy and ambition”. So when Simon saw an advert on the TV for the Clipper World Tour Race, he shouted through to the room next door, “Cath, you need to come and have a look at this…” Immediately, she knew she had to give it go.
After being accepted on to the course, Catherine faced a 4-stage training programme. Her first week was far from successful. She felt lost, struggled with the team and felt like she’d fallen at the first hurdle. However, quitting isn’t really part of Catherine’s DNA and so she went back to give the first stage another crack.
“After failing the first time around, I learnt to exist the second time. I had a great crew, brilliant Skipper and I was starting to understand what my role was on the boat. By the 3rd training week, I was starting to thrive!”
Catherine flicked through her iPhone with excitement showing me pictures of her boat, her living quarters and of the glasses Malcolm Gray have provided. She told me wearing contact lenses just isn’t practical on a boat. So she now has her daily eyewear with has rubberised nose grips and arms for those exciting force 9 gales, and on those brighter days, sunglasses with built-in prescription lenses.
“It’s about having the right tools for the job, from the drysuit to the glasses, preparation is key.”
Catherine is participating in 3 legs (4-7) and flies out on the 12 December. She’ll be away for 5 months and spend much of that time doing 6-hour rotations on/off in the day and 4-hour rotations at night.
Details of the trip:
She will be aboard the 70 foot Punta Del Este (A bright yellow yacht named after the origin port) and you can track her progress live here: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings
For more regular updates on her own blog, you can find out more about Catherine here:
She is supporting two charities
- The Hollie Guard Trust – check out the HOLLIE GUARD APP. https://hollieguard.com/ – new personal safety app. Although free, you can make a donation through Catherine’s profile https://holliegazzard.charitycheckout.co.uk/pf/catherine-johnson
- UNICEF via Just Giving https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cath-johnson1
Best of luck Catherine, we think you’re an inspiration!