AH, January. With Christmas behind and the credit card statements ahead, with the winter weather biting and the Brexit version of Deal or No Deal on every channel, wouldn’t it be nice to just, well, get away from it all? To borrow a bit of inspiration from The Owl and the Pussycat, and sail away for a year and a day?

That might sound pie in the sky, but in the case of Salisbury author Nicola Rodriguez, she didn’t just head off across the ocean for twelve months and a day, but left it all behind for a full eight years. This week sees the publication of the latest edition of her book Sail Away, suitably subtitled How To Escape The Rat Race and Live The Dream. It’s a fascinating read – a combination of inspirational memoir and practical how-to guide for those tempted to give it a go.

When I caught up with Nicola to talk about the book, I assumed she must have come from a strong sailing background, but this turned out to be far from the case. She’d travelled a lot when younger, including going to China in the early 1980s, but her prior nautical knowledge was fairly minimal.

Nicola met her future husband John after gate-crashing a work party. On their second date, John said he wanted to sail around the world. Everything happened very quickly: they got engaged that November, married the following May and set off in July. In the midst of this, Nicola was made redundant, spending the money she got on refitting the boat, Moonshine, that they’d bought. The couple’s wedding list was at a chandler to help them kit it out.

Nicola and John had done sailing courses in preparation for the trip but even so, crossing the Atlantic was still something of an experience. Having made it across, they made the Caribbean and the US Eastern Seaboard their home – an existence that mixed that idyllic holiday drift of not knowing what day it is, with small practical matters such as surviving hurricane season. And although Nicola is back in Salisbury now, her passion for a life on the ocean wave is undimmed: she speaks of ‘unfinished business’ with a sparkle in her eye.

So what advice would Nicola give to anyone contemplating such a life-changing move? Go for it now, was her response: you can wait forever for conditions to be perfect, so set yourself a deadline and stick to it. Not all who wander are lost, Tolkien once wrote. By taking that chance, you might just end up finding yourself instead.

Sail Away: How To Escape the Rat Race and Live the Dream by Nicola Rodriguez is out now.