Sailing and Scientology


A middle-aged woman wearing a beatific smile handed me a business card as I crossed London’s Blackfriars Bridge today. It offered me intelligence, personality and IQ tests to determine my future, with ‘no obligations.’It was published by the Church of Scientology’s ‘improvement centre.’

To the best of my knowledge I’ve only met two practitioners of Scientology. Both are yachtsmen. One – an old friend – is an Ocean Yachtmaster of long-standing who now lives in Brisbane. This fellow thought he was haunted by a difficult upbringing and was talked into being given assistance with his ghosts by two advocates of the Church of Scientology who stopped him in the street one day.

For half a decade or so my friend spent some £35,000 with the Scientologists – I do not know on what – but part of his ‘treatment’ involved de-toxifying his system by eating certain foods, and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes. Quite how attention to the corporeal was to help with the psychological he never explained. But he was a miserable, shuffling shadow of his former self and in all that time my friend did not sail.

One day he started sailing again. This coincided with ‘moving on’ from the church and the last time I saw him, he was drinking like a fish, smoking like a trooper, getting on well with his parents and as happy as a sandboy.

The second acquaintance also does not drink or smoke, and is very serious about the application of ‘dianetics’ – the practice of ignoring the ‘reactive brain’ which we all use, according to the church, to give ourselves a hard time. He has not stopped sailing, but that may change when he starts spending money with the church – so far I do not think he has.

Founder of the Church of Scientologists, American L Ron Hubbard, was an accomplished yachtsman. I cannot help but feel he would have been better placed taking the depressed, the inadequate, and those simply down-in-the dumps out for a thrash round Cape Cod and a good Atlantic wave down the back of their neck to exorcise their demons. But then how much cash is there in that?