Secondary power


From the towering steel topsides of a powerful motor-launch, a bovine-faced Dutchman was watching me warp my little 26ft cutter Almita alongside the ricketty stagings at Hollowshore off The Swale in Kent many years ago.

‘You haff engine problem?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I haven’t got one.’

He then told me I should get a boat with an engine for then I could explore the greatest sailing nation in Europe, namely the Netherlands. When I told him I had he said that I was still prevented from visiting Amsterdam. ‘Because you must not sail there,’ he added.

I didn’t dare mention that Almita had sailed the 13 mile North Sea Canal several times in both directions, once taking six hours to tack its length.

But shortly after that I got an outboard engine which I used strapped alongside the tender. We called it our auxiliary engine.

But this picture shows the first motor-boat I’ve seen with what appear to be auxiliary sails!