Jonty Pearce pins his hopes on a sailing club and cruising with friends to ease him through the cold-turkey of retirement

Jonty Pearce: We had one of our biennial Penguin Cruising Club committee meetings yesterday. I can’t claim to have been on top form for it. I missed the first 30 minutes as I had spent the morning at our flu jab clinic stabbing 500 punters with all the associated banter. Sorry – correction – inoculating 500 patients and counselling them regarding their ills and outcomes. Thus I was fairly mentally weary by the time I settled into a chair at the meeting, and the endless necessary ‘Elf and Safety’ guidelines and policy updates were soporific. Luckily, the meeting improved, firstly with a discussion of past season’s cruises, and then with the plans for the coming season.

The club usually organises three cruises, sometimes four, with at least 10 ‘boat weeks’ – some 70 crew spaces – of cruising to offer the club. Traditionally the first cruise of the season is at Easter and is always in north-west Scotland. Some might shrink from the idea of the Hebrides in March, but the weather can be kindly and the scenery is stunning. I have offered to be the cruise organiser for the 2017 Easter cruise. I will be retired by then as the mid-April Easter is so late, so the budget and cruise fee has to be calculated and set.

The club aims to make no more than 10 per cent on each cruise to offset possible unforeseen expenses (loss of deposit due to sinking, for example), for booking deposits and for our sponsored place fund. The club gathers in January for an AGM and ceilidh, and plans for the coming year are piublicised online in November:

The wife and I plan to join the Easter and Shetland cruises. Croatia tempts me, but with so many club charter cruises on offer, the question ‘Why buy a dog and bark yourself?’ arises. Our Southerly 105 ketch Aurial is lying in Neyland Yacht Haven all ready for us to sail off into the sunset, so why spend extra pennies on chartering? The answer is, of course, a combination of the great company found on club charters and the new places made more accessible by hiring a yacht already there. We get so much from sailing with other people. There’s always something to learn, and the conversations can be amazing.

I always think that sailing is rather like medical practice – the emphasis being on the word practice. Those who think they know it all generally fall further than those of us who choose not to climb the pinnacle of self-considered sailing excellence. I like making mistakes – it’s how I learn. OK, I might like watching other people make mistakes more, but I always feel sorry for them, even if the lessons learnt are just as useful.

For the wife and I, next year will be a voyage of discovery. Whilst retirement will provide freedom, I know that we will need a lot of time to get used to the idea. So a couple of club cruises will compliment our own trips aboard Aurial, and the company of like-minded sailors will help our work-stressed damaged personas recover. Let’s go clubbing!

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