Nico Shipman - Biography


Nico Shipman was born in 1965 in Harlow 'New Town'. "It was always good to get out of" says Nico. He subsequently puts his sense of adventure down to this.


Granted the freedom to roam by his father and aided by the gift of a good bicycle, Nico showed a keen interest in exploring his surroundings. At the tender age of 14, while NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft was approaching Saturn on its "Grand Tour" of the Solar System, Nico set out on his own "Grand Tour" from Essex on his bike and with his best mate from school. Their trip to Cornwall, mid-Wales and back allowed for a serious amount of bragging when later they were lined up in class by the P.E. teacher and asked "What have you been doing this summer?".


A diet of spaghetti hoops, tinned fruit and evaporated milk, ensured there was enough household money left over to spend on the other fine things in life. Nico cherishes the many weekends with his father climbing mountains, scaling cliffs and hurtling down rivers in beaten up canoes. After leaving college he set off with another friend and cycled to Rome, eventually returning across the Alps in November. The unfortunate timing resulted in being snowed-in in a Swiss Youth Hostel. The warden took pity, didn't charge for the extended stay and even helped eat his Birthday cake.


A resourcefull nature was cemented after purchasing a one-way plane ticket to Columbia. Successful negotiations a few months later in Ecuador enabled him to purchase a ticket home with enough money left over to buy a packet of biscuits.


Deciding that one-way tickets were a good enabler to getting further on small budget, he next set out on the last ferry of the season from Plymouth to Santander. Arriving on a Sunday lunchtime the place was deserted. With no maps to be found, Nico cycled South. "It seemed the logical thing to do" although he goes on to mention his surprise at 'discovering' a large range of mountains between him and the centre of Spain. Half a year later in North Africa the money began to run out so he pedalled his way back up to Gibraltar and chanced upon a position as deck-hand of a 115’ motor yacht. The opportunity soon arose to jump ship and start sailing.


Having found his vocation, Nico spent the next three years flitting between the Mediterranean and the Carribbean. With two trans-Atlantic crossings under his belt he landed the plumb job as skipper of a 55’ sailing yacht in the Carribbean. Eventually Nico was drawn by romance to Canada where he survived three winters.


Nico's last major voyage was a third Atlantic crossing aboard Hippocampus, the sister vessel to Sir Edward Heath's Morning Cloud and an entrant in the infamous Fastnet race of 1979. 650 miles NW of the Azores, Hippocampus and its 4 crew sustained two and a half days of the worst storm since records began a hundred years earlier. He sums it up as "a humbling experience".


Nico is now settled in the UK having taken ownership of Gothik in 2004. He sees the circumnavigation as another form of one-way ticket "You are not really returning to the place you came from, you just end up in the place you started."

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