Sailing has been a huge part of my life since pre-teen expeditions with my father on the River Crouch in Essex. Dad had no more sailing experience than his twelve year old son but we soon became a familiar team sailing out of the Brandy Hole Yacht Club in our Brandy Hole One Design – a small gaff-rigged sailing dinghy. We quickly came to understand the capricious nature of river sailing and learnt the need to ensure a downtide return to the slip to avoid multiple tacks across the river while going nowhere.
Always a touch eccentric we eschewed the GP14/Enterprise/Albacore route and bought a Silver Streak – a 12 foot racing dinghy which did not sell in large numbers but was competitive and enjoyable to sail. We were pleasantly surprised when we moved to the Halfway Yacht Club (Thorpe Bay) on the Thames Estuary to discover two other ‘Streaks’ in the club. Father eventually allowed me to enter the handicap races and after gradually moving up from last I began to regularly finish in the top three and with girlfriend now crewing won a good number of races and a couple of trophies.
Student life in Newcastle pushed sailing to the side for a period of time although there were some memorable (and bloody cold!) winter expeditions on Talkin Tarn high in the Cumbrian Fells and some fun with the university boat club at Tynemouth.
The early days of my teaching career saw the purchase of a Sadler 25 sail cruiser in which I enjoyed memorable cruises especially along the east coast and both sides of the English Channel. Moving to Amble on the Northumberland coast allowed some beautiful passages exploring remote and unspoilt but very rocky anchorages.
Mum’s dementia (dementia pages) eventually left me homeless and after living in a cramped and rather old motorhome for eighteen months I bought an even older (but definitely larger!) Prout Snowgoose Elite catamaran which I am slowly refurbishing. She is now moored on the edge of a boatyard in a remote creek in the Thames marshes which suits my desire for peace and quiet. Most importantly it is only a twenty minute drive to mum’s care home which provides peace of mind.