Although I’ve been sailing for many years I have to confess that I’ve learnt a lot since working for Yachting Monthly. The last six years of reading readers’ blue water accounts of overcoming problems have left me taking my own boat’s equipment more seriously. Though I’m not planning on placing my Contessa 32 in a situation where she will be knocked down, rolled or pitchpoled, it is no bad thing to be prepared for the worst.
To that end I now have a serious tool kit on board, one with trays of socket set spanners; screwdrivers; pliers and wirecutters. The old carpenter’s bag full of rusty wrong sized spanners is now in a land fill site – I mean has been re-cycled in the metal bin at the local tip. I also have a proper First Aid box – lovingly packed by my wife. It amounts to more than the solitary tin of anti-septic soap I used to have.
There is even a spare tiller beneath the port side bunk. But when my steering failed this last weekend while beating up the Thames in 25 knots of south-westerly it was to the rope locker I turned. And to be fair to myself there is one thing I have never stinted on – spare cord. I have had lockers full of rope, line, cord, and twine for as long as ever I can remember. And it was a length of small line with which I effected a repair to the stern post head where a bolt had sheared.