Elixir’s crew is constantly changing, some stay for a passage, and others weeks or months. Here’s a list of the longest-lasting crewmates.
When I was four, my stapdad gave me a little wooden dinghy with yellow sails, and I would sail it around Bristol harbour. It was in those murky brown waters where I fist connected with the ocean. Something about the simplicity of it all, as well as the endless possibility of adventure, made it extremely exciting for me.
Later in life my family moved to Cornwall. I added surfing to my list of hobbies, and devoted all my free time to being in and on the water. After graduating from Uni, Harry and I sailed out of Falmouth on board my 22′ wooden sloop Flying Cloud. We watched Cornwall melt into the horizon and never looked back. Harry left in Lisbon, and I went on to sail Flying Cloud to the Caribbean and back. The journey was littered with phenomenal highs and devastating lows, and after it ended, I decided I’d like to sail a bit further next time. I took on Elixir, a massive project, and set about planning a circumnavigation.
Aside from Sailing and Surfing, I also enjoy photography. I’m currently working on a collaborative project with a group of friends — Wild Swimming Cornwall — which aims to promote the mental and physical benefits of cold seawater.
Surfer & Paddleboarder
Geologist & Surfer
Growing up in Cornwall, we would spend more time in the sea than on land. Our parents left us at the beach, with surfboards and tents, where we could enjoy our first taste of freedom. There are lots of rotting boats strewn along the Cornish coastline, Max and I realised you could get hold of one for next to nothing. I restored my first boat, with Max, when we were 18, which opened up a whole new playground to explore. Sailing in the shelter of Falmouth, with friends and fishing rods — there is nothing quite like it.
When I was young, I would dream of sailing through tropical islands, living minimally with some mates. I came to realise that this is totally achievable, especially if you are surrounded by like minded people. Sailing Flying Cloud through Europe was a step towards the dream, and now in Elixir it is entirely possible.
Aside from the sea, Cornwall has a rich geological history. The rock formations here are incredible, and the mineralisation produces some beautiful stones. This has lead me down a path of Geology, which I have studied since I was 17. I love it when I can explain to my friends the 300-million-year a pebble on the beach has taken to get there, as we stroll along the Helford.
Sailor & Photographer
I was born and raised in the Channel Islands and grew up sailing my grandfathers Swan 37, which was almost identical to Elixir. Sailing was a pivotal part of my upbringing, it was the place where I felt most at home.
I spent my adolescence in the UK, landlocked miles from the sea, and my affinity for the ocean was halted until I moved to Falmouth in 2018. A month after moving down, I met Max, and then Elixir, and then the rest is history.
Elixir has sparked a joy and love for the ocean that was built during my childhood. It’s taken me back to where I feel most comfortable and in many ways made me feel at home again.
Lily is currently based in Falmouth, Cornwall and is the founder of Gather, an organisation that support people affected by sexual trauma. Visit the website to find out more.
A CLASSIC SWAN 37
Elixir is a 1970 Sparkman & Stephens designed Swan 37. Born from high pedigree of ocean cruisers, her sweeping tumble home highlights the era of yacht design. Originally, she was used as a racing yacht, until 1995, when she was purchased by Ian Chaston who cruised her extensively. He published a book on his travels in Elixir, titled ‘Alone around the horn‘, in which he describes his eventful solo rounding of Cape Horn. Ian continued to sail Elixir single-handed across the Atlantic into his 80’s, until sadly, in 2014, he passed away.
For five years, Elixir remained unused at the back of Mylor Creek Boatyard. Dave Cockwell (Max’s stepdad) had been commissioned to carry out work on Elixir around the time of of Ian’s death, and eventually purchased her from Ian’s remaining family members. Not wanting to see a good boat wasted, and having the resources to store it, Dave moved Elixir to the back of the yard, until the opportunity would come to restore her.
Five years later, fresh from a single-handed ocean voyage, Max began to plan another trip. This time, one that could be shared with friends, and would hence require a bigger boat. Elixir was perfect. In return for a half share, Max would restore Elixir to something like her former self.
Sparkman & Stephens Swans are known for their strength of build and seaworthiness. Stripping Elixir back to a shell, and then rebuilding her, allowed us to see the design and craftsmanship that went into every detail. It became clear that she is a very strong boat, designed to cross oceans, confirming our belief that she’s the perfect boat for our voyage.
Unlike most other S&S Swan 37’s, Elixir was designed to race. She has a taller mast, with two sets of spreaders, as well a handful of extra winches scattered around the deck. The builders skipped fitting a teak deck to save weight, and originally she was designed with a trim tab on the trailing edge of the keel to improve upwind performance.
In her day, she would have been a record breaking racing machine. Although times have changed, she’s still loads of fun to sail, and even after several thousand miles, she still brings joy to whoever’s at the helm.