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Hitchhiker sails into sustainable lifestyle

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Charlotte Jones during one of her many sailing trips

An intrepid traveller has hitchhiked on a sailboat to the island from Britain in an attempt to promote a more sustainable lifestyle.

Charlotte Jones had already changed most aspects in her life to be more environmentally friendly, from giving up her car and growing her own food to campaigning on green issues.

She decided to take things a step further while planning a visit to see her Bermudian grandparents, Pamela Darrell and Owen Darrell.

Ms Jones considered the potential impact of environmentally damaging air travel.

After a little research online, she discovered the world of sailboat hitchhiking, where people travel with voyaging ships as volunteers or crew members.

Ms Jones will be sharing her experiences from two transatlantic crossings to the island at the upcoming PechaKucha Bermuda night at the Spinning Wheel.

She told The Royal Gazette: “During my first trip in 2008, I managed to travel all the way from the UK by sail to visit my grandparents. My mother is Bermudian but she moved to the UK to go to university and stayed there.

“I ended up on five different boats to get there and it took seven months.

“This time I set off in mid-September. We stopped in Portugal and the Canary Islands before a four-week crossing down the coast of Africa and ‘hung a right’ to travel up to the BVI.

“The plan was to get off and look for another boat but this time I had to fly the last bit because of the damage from the hurricanes. There wasn’t much sailing going on.

“I had learnt a lot about climate change, I was doing a lot of campaigning and education about sustainable living.”

On her decision to avoid flying, Ms Jones said: “I was trying to live as sustainably as possible in every other way — I wasn’t driving and was growing my own food it was a pleasure. But not being able to fly was difficult because of my grandparents living in a completely inaccessible place.

“I was feeling bad about not visiting them and so I decided to look into how else you can get there. I heard about a few people who hitched their way across the Atlantic so I did it.”

Ms Jones has worked and volunteered in education for sustainable development, farming, community development, street design and political campaigning.

She advised there are more convenient options for sustainable travel on the horizon.

“Hitching is not for everyone but if you want the adventure, you don’t need much experience.

“Once you get to know some of the routes that the yachts go, you find boats going to wherever you want to go. There are tricky sides — you don’t always necessarily get on with everyone but you learn a lot along the way. It sounds a bit cheesy but it does give you lots of faith in humanity — the number of people I put my life into their hands.

“The whole reason I sailed is to choose a more sustainable way to travel and so I want to promote that. There are some organisations that are looking at how sailing could replace flying — there is one project called VoyageVert.org which is looking into providing passenger travel on a larger boats.”

PechaKucha Bermuda Vol 22 takes place at The Spinning Wheel, Court Street, Hamilton, on February 22.

Other speakers include hypnotherapist Maryellen Jackson and wordsmith Matthew Arnold.

Doors open at 6pm and presentations begin at 7pm.

Charlotte Jones with her Bermudian grandmother, Pamela Darrell, who lives in St George’s