Monday February 20th, 2012
ImageAfter 36 years as liveaboards travelling the world 83 year old Bill Cooper, and 82 year old laurel Cooper, 82 have returned to Britain to retire.
Bill and Laurel set sail back in 1976 in their 50ft boat “Fare Well” from Lowestoft in Suffolk after selling their house in Chatham Kent.
They started their adventures together back in the 1950s in a former Hitler Youth boat requisitioned by the Royal Navy.
Then in the mid 70s bill was working in the city in a high pressure job he was getting fed up of the stresses and pressure this was creating and so started to persuade his wife that a life at sea would be both a rewarding and exciting one.
He said 'The thing is in a boat like that, when you're navigating it and sailing it, there are stresses that you can cope with. They're concrete stresses, they're not abstract stresses,'
'When you're working in a high-powered job, as I was in the City, the stresses are something that you can't really cope with.
'You just really get fed up with it.'
Mrs Cooper said: 'He'd been working on me for a very long time that it would be a nice thing to do. I'd got a lovely house, I'd got the kids, I'd got a nice little life going along. I wasn't sure that's what I wanted to do.'
But once Bill had convinced her they have never looked back.
'Take it as it comes, see if we like it, see if it's all right is what I thought and my goodness it was,' said laurel
Bill said 'Before we left I suffered quite badly from asthma and Laurel suffered quite badly from migraines and we got half way to Gibraltar and we realised we hadn't had an attack then, and never had an attack since.”
Laurel added 'We didn't really have any trouble at all. The one time we did, he got a fish hook in his hand hauling up the anchor.
'We sprayed it with brandy and gave him some to go down inside as well and I cut it open with a Stanley knife and got it out.'
They did have one very scary episode that could have ended their adventures back in 1982 when they encountered Hurricane Alberto.
Mrs Cooper said 'We were on our way up to Canada, we were hoping to see his relatives in St Lawrence but we never got there in fact because of this hurricane. It was 200 miles north and it was too late to turn back, even if that hadn't been an extremely dangerous thing to do, because there are a lot of reefs north of Bermuda so there we were stuck. Where are you going to get any help?'
'We were the only boat in that area to survive it,' Mr Cooper added.
Surely living together on a boat for all that time must have been a recipe for the odd argument or two? But when asked, Laurel said
'He was master and commander, definitely, no doubt about that, I’m the practical person and I back him up.
'He makes the decisions and I'm bound to say he made very few wrong ones.'
Laurel said 'We're still fairly healthy, except for his eyesight.
And if any of you put there are thinking of a life of adventure at sea but think its too expensive, Mrs Cooper said
'People think it takes a lot of money. It doesn't, it's a very cheap way of life really.'
The couple will continue to live on the boat.

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