The task of clearing out his car has Jonty Pearce wondering if his boat could do with a similar spring clean


I apologise for the deliberately misleading title. Rather than a whimsy about the renowned junk rig, I was inspired to ponder about the quantity of junk a yacht can accumulate after a few years of ownership. The trigger for these particular thoughts was the purchase of a new car. My people carrier has done me proud for ten years, but the time has come when each repair bill runs the risk of exceeding the actual vehicle value. Reliability has become a concern, and as a busy GP even I could see that it was time to bite the bullet and dare the challenge of the car showrooms. I pick the new car up today, so spent some evenings this week ‘depersonalising’ the old one.


How can any one car hold so much? All those nooks and crannies, a ‘car tidy’ in the boot overflowing with coats, defibrillators, tripods, snow chains, waterproof gloves, torches (all with flat batteries), blankets… And under seat compartments full of first aid, jump leads and expired parking tickets. Not to mention the dashboard cubby hole packed with all the small change denominations that are never needed in parking meters, along with boiled biros and blunt pencils. Keys for locks long changed, membership cards from years past. And, amongst the dross, several items I’d forgotten – my excellent Petzl shoe spikes to stop me falling on sheet ice when on my visits, a pair of folding sunglasses, and a long lost book. When I had finished, two boxes, several umbrellas, and three walking poles (why three?…) lay on the drive. When I drove the car to work next morning I’m sure it was sprightlier. And when I have picked up the new car I will have the delights of finding that nothing fits nowhere, and that half the stuff is unnecessary anyway.


The Indoor Dragon accuses me of being a hoarder. Mind you, she is happy enough when I turn my repairing genius skills to her broken items having sourced all the parts from my ‘stores’. And on the boat she grudgingly accepts that to be able to repair most challenges I need a stock of chandlery. However, she has insisted that we keep a stowage inventory in order to be able to dip our hand into the correct locker without delay. This is just as well – with my self-sufficiency ‘just in case’ culture and my increasing years I find that I have forgotten what I’ve stored where. Whilst this can engender pleasant surprises it can also cause frustrations when I discover I had found a better place for essential items but had omitted to remember where.


You may ask what changing cars has to do with yachting? Well, we have owned Aurial for eight years now, and, whilst we consider her a ‘boat for life’, my car swap did lead me to consider how much worse it could be on a boat that is over two and a half times the length and twice the width of a car. Forget two boxes of ‘stuff’ – it would be more like twenty marina trolley loads. Do we really need it all? Odd bits of wood, spare stainless steel rigging wire, three buckets, seven solidified half tins of varnish – of course we do! This is one of the times that I am glad that the Indoor Dragon never reads my blogs. She recently ‘tidied the cellar’. For this, read ‘try to throw away anything that is Jonty’s (except the whisky, of course). I have had to fight hard and dirty to preserve what was previously my domain. The answers to questions like ‘why do you need fifteen fishing rods?’ are difficult for a non-fishing wife to comprehend. Just imagine how much harder it would be to justify all those boaty bits and bobs that we have taken a decade to carefully accumulate ‘just in case’. The mind boggles at the defence I would have to raise against a rampaging Dragon intent on appropriating my hoards of nautical gold.


While Aurial does not boast a junk rig, I intend to maintain adequate stores of junk chandlery down below to be able to maintain her. After all, we have to give those racing types a chance, and adequate stores do provide increased stability. That’s my line, and I’m sticking to it.


Jonty Pearce