An alternative view of Jerry Ratcliffe?
You can find a professional, academic resume on this page, however, who lives to work? The following may be more illuminating!
Click here for a map of the following travels...
The Tangier Island trip has a couple of movies showing my landing at Tangier Island. They are the last two images.
Travel has always been a big part of my life. Early travels took me on board the Sir Winston Churchill, a 150 foot three-masted topsail schooner owned then by the Sail Training Association (now called the Tall Ships Youth Trust). Sir Winston Churchill completed her final voyage for the trust in 2000, but in the early 1980s she took me to Holland and Denmark. Oh yes, and Hull! She now appears to be a luxury cruise vessel.
A couple of summers were then spent backpacking and InterRail-ing around Europe, taking in most of the countries from Norway to Morocco, and Portugal to Istanbul, Turkey. Other fun trips included traveling around and through the center of Iceland, going to Tunisia and visiting New York and Washington DC.
The real fun began when I was selected for Operation Raleigh - now Raleigh International. Raleigh is a youth development charity which takes young people (aged 17-24) on 3-month expeditions to remote parts of the world to work together on challenging environmental and community projects. My first expedition was as a venturer (V) (one of the young people on the expedition) and I spent 3 months in Kenya. Projects included building a hypothecary in the North of the country, climbing Mount Kenya, and working on a scientific research project in ... well, the middle of nowhere.
I traveled after the expedition, and spent some time on the East African coast South of Mombassa, and I then went down to Tanzania, hired a porter and a guide and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, at over 19,000 feet, the highest mountain of Africa.
Raleigh gave me the real travel bug, so I went back on five further 3-month expeditions with them, in various staff roles.
In Chile (90A) I was an assistant logistics manager, traveling Northern Patagonia in a four-wheel drive, resupplying project sites. Having qualified in the UK as a powerboat handler and instructor, I then went to Brunei as on expedition an assistant project manager and boat handler. I'm the first non-Iban tribesman to learn to navigate the 30-plus rapids of the Temburong river (Sungai Temburong) in a traditional boat. After the expedition, I learned to scuba-dive, and then completed my advanced PADI dive training at the famous dive island, Sipadan Island. I stayed traveling in South-East Asia for many months, taking in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Vietnam. I also dived on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
My next trip with Raleigh was to Siberia (93C) where I was a project manager, running a water-bound project. The Vs and I took the trans-Siberia railway from Irkutsk through Ulan Ude to the Mongolian border. With us we brought three inflatable boats and three outboard motors, and then after some boat-handling training we traveled the length of the Selenga river from Mongolia to Lake Baikal (about 400 miles), collecting water samples that were analyzed for pollutants by Russian scientists.
In the meantime, I had been rock and ice climbing quite a bit, and joined a police Chief Superintendent and his group on a 6-week expedition to climb the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda - the famous Mountains of the Moon. Travels after the expedition took me traveling around much of Egypt.
Another Raleigh International expedition followed, this time to Borneo again - more specifically Sabah, Malaysia. I was a project manager in the Tabin wildlife reserve. They do tours there now, but don't stray to far into the mountainous rainforest area. We trekked right across the reserve - all 120,500 hectares of it. On the good days it was rainforest, and we should save every inch of it. On the bad days, with leeches, mud and mosquitoes it was jungle, and the loggers were welcome to it. However there were few bad days. I only found that I had contracted malaria when I got back to the UK! On the plus side, I found orang-utan, and met my (future) wife, Philippa - who was a medic on my last phase.
Phil(ippa) and I hooked up with the Police Expeditions Society. I went on an expedition with them into the Negev desert in Israel, and we both ended up on a recce to the Albanian coast, ending up discovering Greek amphora submerged in 100 feet of water during a coastal scuba dive. A final expedition with Raleigh International found Philippa and I in Zimbabwe, Phil as a project manager and medic, and myself as the expedition's Deputy Expedition Leader.
Full-on expeditions were on hold for a bit - we moved to Australia - but we still managed to squeeze in diving trips to the Red Sea (Egypt), and Fiji. In the meantime, we have traveled around much of Australia, visiting every Australian state, Hawaii and New Zealand.
Phil is an accomplished diver, and our most recent dive trips have taken us to St. Martin in the Dutch Antilles, to the flight deck of a sunken aircraft carrier off the coast of Florida, and to the fabulous Galapagos islands, where we dived with hammerheads and 40 foot long whale sharks.
Although I had been ice-climbing for a few years, that still didn't stop me falling 120 feet down a hillside while winter mountaineering in the Scottish Cairngorm mountains in 1994. I can confirm that a full-on compound fracture of the left femur is quite painful (the femur is your biggest bone and runs from your hip to your knee, and a compound fracture is the really bad one when the bone bits tear out of the skin). It took me months to walk properly again, and I still have metalwork holding my left leg together.
To motivate myself to get fit again, I returned to training for the reserve British Army (called the Territorial Army in the UK) and graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1997. I served as a lieutenant with 73 Engineers Regiment - an air support regiment - until we left for Australia.
Just before leaving Australia, I qualified as a light-aircraft pilot, learning to fly in sunny Goulburn. On moving to the US, I got my American pilot's licence and now fly Cessnas out of Philadelphia North East airport, North of Philadelphia - when time permits. Click for a short 2 minute/3Mb video of a recent night flight over Philadelphia.(the full 18mb version with better clarity is here). There are also photos and a video of me landing a Cessna 172 at Tangier Island here.
I also have access to the original images from the 1914-1917 Endurance expedition to Antarctica, led by Sir Earnest Shackleton. The images are from slides originally in the possession of Dr Leonard Hussey, the youngest member of the expedition. Hussey used the slides to give 'lantern show' talks after the expedition, using pictures taken by Frank Hurley, the photographer on the expedition. The slides have been handed down, eventually reaching Geoff Selley who now acts as custodian of the story. Geoff kindly provided me with a copy of not only the slides, but also the original lecture notes used by Leonard Hussey. Like Geoff in the UK, I now give the Endurance lecture to geographical societies in the Philadelphia region, using not only the original images, but also using the original first-person notes - in Hussey's own words: The greatest survival story ever told - recreating the original lantern-slide lecture of Shackleton's 1914-17 Antarctic expedition.
I hope this counteracts the impression you might have got from the proper resume page... I try to have a life outside academe.