Film maker James Aiken lives aboard a 33 foot yacht, which he sails around the North Atlantic, searching for waves and stories to tell from those who live at the wild edges of the world.
Last year he sailed from Cornwall to The Hebrides, with the trip documented in this brand new short, and is already planing future voyages to The Faroes and The Orkneys.
We caught up with James to find out more about he arrived at this point in his life.
WL: Could you tell us a little about your background?
J: I grew up on the Dorset coast with the sea playing a big part in my early life. We were always around boats and sailing seemed like the natural way to interact the environment. Photography, and later filmmaking, became a way to document the places I visited and this project rose from the want to combine my love of the ocean with the anthropological stories you often find in wild places.
WL: When did you move onto you boat full time?
J: I never intended to become a full livaboard! It happened on the Helford river, which I consider to be as close to a Nirvana as there could be. Its was early spring, the crowds of the Cornish summer were in full swing and with a scallop bed right below it was hard to drag myself ashore.
WL: What did you do before that point?
J: For the two years proceeding I’d been in London the majority of the time. I don’t regret it as I was around some pretty inspiring and creative people on a daily basis but I realised I needed to get back to the big vistas!
WL: Why did you decide to sail from Cornwall to the Hebrides?
J: Ive never really had a fixed agenda or destination but I’ve known that this is a long term project, a commitment to a way of life that will hopefully take me to far off places. I have a deep passion for our coastline and find that most of it is far more remote than people appreciate. I wanted to test myself and the boat whilst really immersing in these places before I took off further afield.
WL: How long did your trip last?
J: I took about three week from the Scillies to Stornaway, which was just enough to get a sense of each place that I passed. The real challenge came in trying to get some southing from Stornaway in mid September with endless southerly gales.
WL: What kind of stories are you looking for?
J: I think there can be a lot to learn from people that live with a close connection to their environment, and as society accelerates in its direction I think looking to these people can open our eyes to the alternatives that we have.
WL: In the clip we see you surfing, were you also hunting for waves?
J: The dream is to access remote spots with the boat and I think there is a surprising amount of coastline in the UK where land access is difficult that could be opened up in this way. However, our super mobile weather patterns and strong coastal tidal movements means that its certainly a serious challenge to get even close! Wish me luck!
WL: Thanks James, good luck on your travels and we look forward to seeing more of your films.
Cover photo: William Collinson