A former Advertiser and Review reporter has released her first book detailing her life on the high seas.
Emma Bamford trained as a reporter in Buckingham in 2002 before leaving to join the staff of the Derby Evening Telegraph.
She has since worked at the Daily Express and The Independent before becoming news editor of the i newspaper.
Then, at 31, she decided to take a career break and answer a ‘crew wanted’ advert on the internet, flying to Borneo to live on a boat with a man she’d never met.
Her book, Casting Off, which was released on July 3, is about her experiences. Now living in Derbyshire, Emma works part time as a freelance and aims to make book writing her full time career.
Speaking to the Advertiser and Review, Emma said: “When, as a trainee reporter, I sat in on parish council meetings in Bicester, Buckingham and Brackley, I never could have imagined that one day I would become a sailor and author.
“But life has a funny way of turning out – and so it was that I found myself living on a boat anchored in the Borneo jungle with a man I’d never met (and his cat) after answering an advert on the internet.
“I joined the Bicester Review as a trainee in 2000 and spent two years learning my trade at the West Street offices of the Advertiser and Review series under editor Rob Gibbard. I lived in shared houses in Padbury and then Tingewick and spent my days interviewing local dignitaries such as Robin Stuchbury and Debbie Pickford, running a highest hollyhock competition (which the readers loved) and attending the local courts to write up stories.
“Afterwards I moved on to the Derby Evening Telegraph and then the Daily Express and the Independent newspapers in London.
“When I was 31, I found all my friends were marrying and starting to have children and, as a single woman, I felt left behind and left out.
“An old friend, Katie, had some wise words for me that stopped me wallowing in self-pity and got me thinking, ‘You can do anything you want to, go anywhere you want, be anyone you want. Do it now while you still can.’
“And so I did. Learning to sail a couple of years earlier had turned into a passion and I decided, pretty much just like that, to go off sailing, I looked at ‘crew wanted’ adverts on the internet, had a Skype chat with Steve, the skipper of a yacht in Borneo, and bought myself a one-way ticket.
“It seemed like madness to friends and family but I was so caught up in the sprit of adventure that I just took a deep breath and did it. And I ended up having the most amazing experiences – watching wild pygmy elephants in a rainforest river, swimming with turtles off an idyllic island, travelling to places accessible only by private boat, snatching a rare glimpse of lost tribesmen and mingling with billionaires on a superyacht in Italy.
“There were negatives, too – we were halfway across the Indian Ocean when pirates captured a boat not far in front and killed all the crew, leaving us terrified we would suffer the same fate. And I learned that living on a boat with a total stranger when the furthest you can get away from each other is 46ft is very, very difficult.
“Most of all, I learned to slow down and take life as it comes. From Bicester Town Council meetings to the depths of the Borneo jungle to becoming an author: we may never know where our life will take us but, as they say, it’s the journey that counts.”
The book is available from The Old Hall Bookshop, in Brackley or from Amazon.