Smartphones and sailing do not mix. At least as far as I’m concerned they don’t. Use of what would now be considered an archaic ‘mobile phone’ once caused me serious injury while sailing solo: I was onto the wife and so engrossed I stepped down the companionway in my bare feet onto a half opened corned beef tin, the contents of which I was preparing for lunch.
After mopping up the gore from the cabin sole, swigging a bottle of Rioja to take away the pain, while I shivered in my maggot trying to sleep, I spent the rest of the cruise hobbling ashore with my right foot swathed in bandages and the heel of my deck shoe cut to fit.
Now I read that ‘only’ 43.8 per cent of the UK population own a smartphone. And as David Sexton in the Evening Standard notes: ‘It can seem if half the people out there might as well be under alien control. It looks like a scene from some implausible 1970s sci-fi movie.’
A yachtsman friend of mine, who has worked as a journalist for 30 years, spent a decade glued to his mobile while filing copy for a daily national newspaper. He contracted cancer along the right hand side of his face, from his right ear lobe to his chin. ‘It was in the shape of the mobile,’ he told me, ‘I will lay money that the dangers of mobile phone use will one day be as notorious as Thalidomide.’
We can only hope he is proved wrong. But setting aside speculation on the effects of micro-wave technology, I’m sure the smartphone will still bring about Laurel and Hardyesque style accidents. Sailing was dangerous enough – even in an anchorage – when just the ears were disengaged from reality. Now with sight claimed by this gadget as well expect more casualties soon…