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Sailing rescues former street urchin

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A Bermudian who once slept rough on the streets of Britain plans to sail the “seven seas” as he prepares to study for a yacht master's certificate.

Nigel Davies, 30, who was brought up in Manchester, England, found himself embroiled in a life of crime to survive financial hardship.

After his parents moved him back to Bermuda, he found sailing, which gave him the chance to chart a new course.

Mr Davies said: “I was on my own a lot. I had been kicked out of home and was living on the streets for about a year.

“I got into crime; stealing cars was the main thing I was into, but it got worse. It's easy money, so you become addicted to it. The only thing that got me through was my group of friends. They were always there for me.”

He added: “As much as I loved them, being brought to Bermuda was the best thing that happened to me. It turned my whole life around. By doing my yacht master's, I want to help Bermudians keep their boats active by chartering them in the off-season and just to sail, travel and get experience.”

Mr Davies has organised a series of trash clean-ups to help to raise funds for the four-month All Aboard Sailing Academy programme, which is based in Gibraltar. Mr Davies was born in Manchester and used to visit family members in Bermuda in the summer.

He said he was often out on the water with his uncle and cousin, Richard and Benjamin Bernardo, which stimulated an interest in the sea from an early age.

He started mixing with the wrong people aged about 13 back in Britain and by the time he was 18 he was at risk of ending up in prison.

Mr Davies slept in alleyways or, when the weather was bad, in abandoned cars and shipping containers. He had no high school education or GED when he moved back to Bermuda.

He enrolled at Bermuda College and completed an apprenticeship in masonry before he gained an online football scouting qualification through Sports Management Worldwide.

Mr Davies tried his hand at fishing in his spare time and also drove motorboats inside the reef.

When he made a round trip to the Caribbean island of Martinique on a charter, he realised he had found his role in life.

Mr Davies said: “I did a nine-day crossing on a 40-foot lagoon catamaran and I loved every single minute of it. To be out there in the middle of the ocean was crazy. “It's amazing to be able to control a boat under all weather conditions. I realised what I wanted to do on that trip.

Mr Davies added: “The yacht master course teaches you to handle a boat under any conditions, whether it is communicating with boats in the middle of the ocean or sailing in and out of ports.

“It is the greatest experience and the qualification is recognised all over the world.”

Mr Davies said he would clean up trash until he hit his goal, which he explained he hoped would be in early November, the start date for the next course in Gibraltar.

Mr Davies offered some advice for people who faced similar difficulties in settling down and finding a career.

He said: “Find something that you are truly passionate about and go for that. Crime is never worth it, you just get in trouble; it's pointless. You might make a quick buck now, but it's never worth it in the end.

“When you don't have any of those possessions you don't understand how people feel when it happens to them. These days I feel so bad about it.”

Mr Davies added: “Choose to be nice and have fun with your life. I keep in touch with some friends and since I left, they have been in and out of prison numerous times. Find something and be great at it.”

Mr Davies said he needed to raise $13,000 to pay for the Gibraltar course. He has set up a GoFundMe page, which can be accessed from his Facebook page, “Ras Nij”.

New lease on life: Nigel Davies (Photograph supplied)
Nigel Davies (Photograph supplied)

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Published September 05, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated September 05, 2018 at 7:58 am)

Sailing rescues former street urchin

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