This week Jonty Pearce finds that boat ownership can fall on the back burner when you're overloaded with other interests

The sun is shining, the wind mild, and the seas calm. So why am I stuck miles from the water working in the garden and not sailing? The pressures and demands of every day life mean that visits to Aurial have to be entered into our diary months in advance, irrespective of potential weather conditions. When I visit the marina on a lovely spring morning to complete commissioning work for the coming season, I envy those who live locally, and especially those who have retired: they seem able to enjoy their boats whenever the weather is clement, whereas those of us tied to the treadmill of employment’s timetables have to take pot luck with the forecast conditions.

I bemoaned this to our editor, but Kieran’s response was to suggest that sailors needed to convert to concrete gardens, a development viewed with disdain by my wildlife and garden obsessed wife. So, instead of mixing cement, this weekend I found myself mowing my meadow and reconstructing a gale torn pergola overloaded by a thorn strewn rose able to outgrow any triffid. Wheelbarrowing the 4th load of cut rose stems to the bonfire, my thoughts turned wistfully to fantasies of gently drifting up the River Cleddau to anchor under a blazing sun in the upper reaches of Milford Haven.

I suppose at the end of the day it is our own fault. Carol and I are not exactly short of interests and responsibilities – apart from sailing, our interests encompass cycling, hill walking, photography, birdwatching, camping, gardening, driving traction engines at our local steam fair, visiting family, driving and repairing my classic Triumph TR2 sports car – as well as keeping my 91 year old mum and Carol’s elderly stroke-damaged parents cared for. Oh, and don’t forget our respective careers – teaching, and running a busy village general practice. We live very full lives, and neither of us can wait to retire to devote time enough to justify our hobbies.

Sympathy is certainly an emotion we do not seek – we have a great time, and feel almost ashamed to admit that this year we have already enjoyed a budget Thompson cruise round the Canary Islands followed by a family Easter treat aboard the sumptuous Hebridean Princess cruising from Oban to Ullapool, before by my annual week’s salmon fishing on the River Tweed. In justification, this profligation of holiday is exceptional and we have been living the life of Riley in a fashion we’d like to become accustomed to. Nevertheless, it still steals far too much time from our sailing plans, let alone draining our bank balance, so the rest of the year’s holidays will be parsimoniously spent aboard Aurial. There are just not enough weekends or holidays in the year for us to allocate the amount of time aboard that she deserves. Owning a yacht is described either as standing under a cold shower tearing up £50 notes, or as a hole in the water that you throw money into. However, even if we fail to spend the time aboard that we’d like to, she occupies a lot of my thoughts and thereby plays an important role in maintaining my sanity and happiness.

Thus, let me assure those boat owning brethren that the joys of ownership do exceed the downside, and that time spent thinking about our floating pride and joy can be as rewarding as the actual time spent on board. So don’t order that concrete lorry yet – enjoy the garden, but also enjoy daydreaming about your perfect cruise as you swing in your hammock, gin and tonic in hand, amid the aroma of fresh cut grass and blossoming blooms. You can have your cake and eat it!


Jonty Pearce