Vall Ellis, Noonsite Site Researcher, Retires after 19 Years with Noonsite

At the end of April 2019, we said a very fond farewell to the longest-standing team member with Noonsite, Val Ellis (Site Researcher, holiday cover for the Editor and all-around amazing asset to the Noonsite team).

Published 4 years ago

val noonsite's long-term site researcher who retired recently with her husband eric
Val with her husband Eric

Val had been with Noonsite since it started nearly 20 years ago and over the last two decades helped it grow and develop into the indispensable planning tool that it is for cruisers worldwide today. 

We caught up with Val to ask her a few questions about her many years with the site;

Val, how did you come to be involved with Jimmy Cornell and his daughter Doina and son Ivan, who co-founded Noonsite all those years ago?

As a freelance computer consultant, I was looking for extra work when I saw an advert in one of the sailing magazines. It was an advert looking for someone to work part-time who was a sailor and who had knowledge of computers! The reply was to a box number so I had no idea where or who it was from. So imagine my surprise when the reply came from Doina Cornell and that she lived just 2 miles away! After a meeting with her, she and Jimmy were obviously happy with my experience and offered me a job with Noonsite. I did not actually meet Jimmy until several months later.

Did you know who Jimmy was?

Yes, he and his books and articles were well known in the cruising world.

What cruising had you done prior to joining Noonsite?

I had done all my theory and practical RYA courses and achieved my Yachtmaster Offshore certificate. With my all women crew, I had chartered yachts around the coast of the U.K. and Ireland, France, and Greece. Then in 1994 my close friend and I fell in love with a little Corribee (a 21ft bilge keeler) and decided to buy her. After several enjoyable years (and a few adventures) sailing the south coast of England from The Solent to Falmouth, we started looking for something bigger. This turned out to be a Verl 900. One of a very small class of solid, steady and sea-kindly fin keelers, perfect for sailing across the English Channel to France. This we did for several years before deciding to permanently berth her on the French coast in Brittany. The tidal streams and the rocky coast of this part of the world makes for a very interesting and challenging cruising.

What was your background with websites, the internet etc. – which was very much in its early stages back then?

In my ‘day job’ I had experience of remote working by login into my customers’ networks and also experience of using the various internet search engines which, although in their infancy, were around then.

Did you have to buy any special equipment to do the job?

In those early days, we only had ‘dial-up’ connection to the internet. This did cause some problems as nobody could use the phone while I was working! So until we had broadband available in our area, we had a second phone line installed specially for internet use.
I already had an excellent P.C. as it was needed for my main job in software development.

What was your role at the beginning?

My main job has always been researching and setting up the information on countries and ports and then keeping them up to date. For many years I was the only person doing this as Doina concentrated on dealing with emails, news and reports.

Did you have much contact with the cruisers that used the site back then?

To be honest, I don’t remember having any contact in the first few years.

How did your role develop/change over the years?

As email and internet cafes became more accessible around the world, contact with users of the site developed. Plus, when Sue became editor she involved me more so that I could back her up when she took a well-earned break. So my role expanded to also include posting reports and news items and other articles of interest to cruisers.

What did you particularly enjoy about working with Noonsite?

I loved the contact with other sailors from all over the world and the feeling that we were providing a valuable service for them.

Was there any part of the job you didn’t like?

Having to update all the telephone numbers of all the contacts and businesses on the site when a country changed its format!

Did you become a “specialist” in any particular areas?

I seemed to become the ‘de facto’ specialist in the VAT and Visa rules as they applied to cruisers visiting the European Union and the Schengen Area countries.

What do you wish for the future of Noonsite?

I hope and expect that Noonsite will continue to expand and grow and embrace the new technology which has developed since Noonsite was first launched. I am also sure that it will remain an essential tool for cruising sailors and be their ‘go to’ site on the internet.

So retirement – what are your plans?

Not being part of the Noonsite team after so long will take a little getting used to. My immediate plans involve a long visit to my daughter’s family in Canada. Then, with my old sailing crew, we are going to take part in a Thames Sailing Barge race – something we have all wanted to do for a while. Visits to several other old friends are also on the cards. And there is always the gardening to keep up with – I don’t think I will be bored!

Parting words…..

I am going to miss feeling part of the world-wide sailing community and the regular contact I had with cruisers from all parts of the world. I loved working with Sue and the team and am also going to miss that regular contact. I wish you all the best and keep up the good work.

We’ll miss you too, Val! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your history with the site, your enthusiasm and dedication will not be forgotten. We all wish you a very happy and well-deserved retirement. 

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