Trevor Boult shares the joy of sailing a range of vessels in his readable memoir, Boats Yet Sailing, write Julia Jones

Boats Yet Sailing
Trevor Boult
Independent Publication, £17.95

The title of this unpretentious life story comes from a poem written by the author, entitled ‘Thank You’.

The poem’s not included in its entirety but the lines quoted express gratitude for the larch trees ‘long since fashioned […] into the planks of boats yet sailing.’

Trevor Boult has fashioned his memoir round the particular vessels that have mattered to him at different stages of his life. He is also a craftsman in wood.

Trevor’s story began in Cullercoats on the northeast coast of England, traditionally home to a fleet of sailing cobles.

For Trevor and his brother – as so many 1960s youngsters – first experience of sailing came from a Mirror dinghy.

They joined the Tynemouth Sailing Club, racing in all seasons, either on the Tyne itself or up river at Ryton Willows.

Later, as a cadet in the merchant navy, Trevor benefitted from the sail training ship, Sir Winston Churchill as well as working on oceanographic research ships.

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Off duty he saved enough to buy himself a shapely coble in GRP and built himself a tender to reach her on her mooring.

Their names Chilawee and Chikanee may be evocative for other ex-children who remember Sajo and her Beaver People by conservationist ‘Grey Owl’.

On board the RRS (Royal Research Ship) Shackleton Trevor’s duties as third officer included maintenance of the ship’s lifeboats, including an open boat with sails.

When change came to that specialist section of the merchant navy and Trevor was considering voluntary redundancy he had a wonderful moment of epiphany.

Picking up Richard Birmingham’s book on boat building techniques in a shop in Falmouth, he realised that while boats had shaped him, he in turn might shape them.

He enrolled at the International Boatbuilding Training Centre in Lowestoft.

Trevor Boult’s story develops a pattern of learning, doing and giving back – with boats at its heart.

It’s no surprise to discover that he’s also been a regular volunteer at an adventure centre for disabled people. He considers he learns as much as he teaches there.

This book’s foreword by Sophie Neville reveals that Trevor will be donating his author royalties to the literacy charity Schoolreaders and to the grant-making Arthur Ransome Society with enables young members to learn to sail.

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