Single-handed lensman sets out


An old pal of mine, Bob Aylott, a former Fleet Street lensman, has taken up sailing at the age of 60. ‘I’ve got no garden anymore,’ he said following the sale of his house in a divorce settlement, ‘so I want a boat’. In swapping earth for water he came to me for advice, but I’m still not sure why.

I advised joining his local sailing club at Warsash and doing some dinghy sailing with others to a) learn and b) make sure sailing was what he really wanted instead of a garden. He didn’t do so.

He looked at a ‘project’ and when he remonstrated with the broker at the time it would take to fix her was told: ‘He’s a shipwright and shipwrights work at the same rate that trees grow.’

I had already advised against buying a wooden boat because of all the maintenance and hidden costs. He bought a wooden boat.

I advised getting a swinging mooring in Portsmouth Harbour because it would be cheaper than a marina berth. He secured a berth in Haslar Marina.

I said I would sail the boat round from her berth in Maldon, Essex to Gosport, Hampshire so that he could get a chance to learn some ropes. He has arranged to have her taken by road.

I dare not say: ‘Don’t sail her over to Cherbourg, yet, muck about in Fareham Creek for a season first.’

So if you see a man in new Mustos aboard a Purbrook Heron this season, heading south from the Needles be kind, but give him a wide berth.