Saturday, 25 January 2014

Mind That Dinghy

Nothin stops me goin sailin!
This scene unfolded before me in the Greek Islands, last summer, when it raised an eyebrow or two. For the whole duration of my stay on Naxos I saw one dinghy, the one on the right, that graced the sunset for us every evening in a bay that spanned about ten miles wide. How I envied that person who sailed the magic hour in a backdrop of godly islands painted by a burning red sun which then sunk behind them every night. I went on to scour the surrounding villages in searing heat, I pretended to go snorkeling for sea shells when really I was miles along the bay coming up for air searching for the lone dinghy and its mooring. I was surprised to find it a few days into the search gracing the corner of a tranquil bay where it lay under shade of some trees on idyllic white sand. The skipper was nowhere to be seen. Lucky for them as I was going to collar them for a sail. I guessed they were locals as they knew the right time to appear, and disappear...
A couple of days later a bush fire raged up in the mountains. Sirens squealed as a squadron of three seaplanes circled our bay before swooping in, each one in turn scooping up tons of water and flying off again, up to the mountains where I could see it drop its cargo of sea on smoking, mountainous terrain.
Strangely, the only time I saw these two dinghies sailing together they happen to be sailing in the path of the emergency seaplanes.  You have to hand it to those pilots who worked tirelessly to dodge these two herberts, and until darkness in order to put out the raging bush fire. And those sailors? You got to hand it to them too as they ain't letting nothing get in the way of sailin!

Friday, 10 January 2014

The London Boat Show

The London Boat show may only be a short hop away but the pre-booking price for three adults in the same family came to £31.75 for an after 3pm entry. Add the £15.00 onsite parking fee and you start to wonder, was this a good idea after all... We arrived at the door at 18.00 for Thursday’s late night opening until 21.00. Three hours of bling would surely be more than enough to cope with.
The brief to my kids were; imagine you had won the Lottery. Now, keep your eye open for a family sized creek crawler with centerplate that we could spend 6 months on and could take the whole family anywhere in the World…
The hall seemed to be larger this year, but then this may have been an illusion. My son noticed straight away that last year’s car section was missing and headed blindfold for the biggest Sunseeker in the building. We had parted ways for a while, and that is fair enough, they know I go straight for the raggy bits that stick up between the gleem.
The sweeping sheer and on-the-floor draft of the Swallow Boat
I couldn’t help but notice a solitary Drascombe among the motor vessels that made up the majority of prominent boats in the hall. With its three tan sails raised it looked to be making a last stand against a tidal surge of Diesel.  I did find a couple of modern-day contenders for an ideal creek crawler in the form of the Swallow  Boats. GRP boats with classic looks but with modern composite spars and performance. The Crabbers were on show too with the ever popular 19ft Shrimper beside a very similar 19ft Adventurer. The Adventurer looked to be a Bermudan rig Shrimper but the bar was next to the stand and I got called away before I could take a closer look.

I heard the kids calling me over. They said they had found the ideal boat - two boats in fact. "Ok, I’m coming" I yelled and made my way over. My daughter then pointed to one yacht that sat four or five feet lower that every other yacht in the line along the back wall. “Look, under there, it has a lifting keel and draws less than 3ft. It’s 42ft long so we could easily sail the Atlantic. Just imagine Dad we could then head up New York Creek? It only costs around 300 grand.” "Oh that’s one of those lovely Southerly’s. Let’s have two of those then!" Phew, calm down dear I thought to myself, does New York even have a creek? This wasn’t a good idea coming here. Quick, let’s get back to the mud of Essex and our little bundle of joy. “Hold on Dad there’s one more” "Do we have to, this is getting tedious, I am simply not used to having so much room in a boat. I would trip over the volumes of airspace."
The voluminous Southerly. Worldwide family creek crawling
“No, you’ll like this one Dad. An Ovni 42. She’s made of aluminum and draws the same as the Southerly but her plate is like that on Shoal Waters and can be lifted easily by a series of ropes and pulleys. At 42ft she is the same length too so we’d all get in and be able to do the World series creek hop. And, price-wise they are similar to the Southerly but you can pick them up second hand at a bargain 90 grand.” "Blimey wed get one of those each then. The dog can have one too. Just think we could sail in convoy and do a raid on New York beach? Let’s have it then…" “Oh, this one's not for sale Dad…"
If I’m honest, for us that was this year’s boat show. A lot of dreaming!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Sailing Today

Readers may like to know that February's edition of Sailing Today features an East Coast creek-cruising article. It's a very nice spread, if I may say so, illustrated with some gloriously muddy photographs. The amount of mud alone on show is medicine enough to help the most ardent creek sliders through to spring.  Hard copies are available now at the usual outlets and a digital version of the magazine is also available from this link to the Sailing Today website. If you do get to take a look I hope you enjoy it.