James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

Volcanoes in the Heart of the Atlantic


Adventures in the Azores

Five years ago I did a very naive thing and set off rather ill prepared on a big adventure. I agreed to join a yacht sailing back across the Atlantic from the Caribbean to the Azores. I was ill prepared because I’d never sailed before, and naive because I didn’t know how tough it was!

I did it because it sounded fun. I did it because I didn’t know if a chance like that would ever come up again. But mainly, I did it because I thought it would impress girls.

Having never sailed before, I vaguely remember the weeks at sea as a blur of sleep deprivation, cold watches, sheer grit-your-teeth elation, occasional oil tankers, bio-luminescent algae, stars and the feeling of being very, very small.

As with all great trips, all the bad parts melt away to nothing, and you’re left with a handful of life defining memories. One of those is seeing the Azores, great bastions of volcanic rock appearing through the haze. Before we knew it, we were in Pete’s Sports Cafe (an institution, has anyone been?) swigging beers and realising quite how lightly the Atlantic had treated us.

As it turns out, my sillyness did at least get me noticed by my soon to be girlfriend, Jess. And she’s still with me!

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