In 2010, architect Toby Carr suddenly lost his father. Around this time, Toby was also diagnosed with cancer—something his brother Marcus had long been grappling with. Both were born with a rare genetic condition called Fanconi anaemia, which affects one in two million people. In 2017, Marcus died in a hospice in London.
It was after losing his father (his mother Bron had long been in a home after suffering a viral brain injury when Toby was six years old) and cancer diagnosis that Toby took up kayaking on the ‘murky waters of the Thames’ with Tower Hamlets Canoe Club. After Marcus’s death, he decided he needed a big adventure to process his grief and his own condition. Enter: The idea of sea kayaking the locations of the Shipping Forecast.
Produced by the Met Office and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, these weather and sea reports are considered by some people to be the UK’s ‘national lullaby’—the soothing delivery of seemingly unknown faraway places alternating with weather status of the seas around Britain and in parts of Europe.
With a Churchill Fellowship grant, Toby covered many of Shipping Forecast’s 31 sea areas, from South East Iceland through the Faroe Islands, Norway, Germany, Spain and the UK. In that time, he left his job in London and took up a lecturer position at Cornwall’s Falmouth University. However, on January 10, 2022, Toby died of liver cancer, before he could write his book.
Determined to tell her brother’s story, his sister Katie decided to interpret his notes, recording and photos and write the book. A year later, the end result is Moderate Becoming Good Later by Toby and Katie Carr.
Adventure.com caught up with Katie to talk about the book, her late brother, and the power of nature and adventures to help us process grief.