Messages from famous friends of YM

Lin and Larry Pardey, yacht Taleisin
It was the 1973 Earls Court London Boat Show and I was fresh from my first trans-oceanic voyage with Larry on 24ft 4in Seraffyn. We felt like two country bumpkins as we tried to meet magazine editors. An IRA bomb scare made the stormy Bay of Biscay seem a safer place. On the Yachting Monthly stand Des Sleightholme welcomed us and told us the importance of sharing stories about real, affordable, attainable adventures with readers. Through the years we’ve written for the magazine we’ve noticed it is a favourite among international voyagers. From Puerto Williams, Chile, to the edges of the Namibian desert, and in hundreds of ports we’ve visited around the world, local sailors have offered to share their copies with us – as long as we treat them carefully and return them before we sailed on.

Michael Buerk, Sailor and BBC TV/radio journalist
Others may speak of YM’s expertise and its authority, of Libby’s wit and the whimsical wisdom of dear, departed Des. But has anybody else mentioned how good it is in the loo? The pile of YMs in my bathroom now reaches up to my shoulder (when sitting down of course). I have passed many a winter hour in there, boning up on anchoring techniques, dreaming of a the new boat that bearded bozo – how do you get a job like that? – has just thrashed up and down the Solent, or just relaxing with the tang of the ocean in my nostrils. There so much information stored in my YM lavatory library. And I am such an amateur yachtsman, completely impractical and disaster prone, I have so much to learn. The First Mate, aka the skipper, may moan. God knows what will happen when the pile reaches the ceiling, but YM will always have a place in my heart – and my loo.

Rod Heikell, (Blue Water Letter columnist)
I arrived in the UK in the mid-1970s from New Zealand and found myself sitting in a Victorian boys’ school in deepest Buckinghamshire, as far from the sea as you can get. As an escape from the rigours of writing a post-graduate thesis, I looked forward to buying Yachting Monthly. Somewhere along the way, YM tripped a neuron and I abandoned the thesis and spent the last of my savings, £850, buying an old 20ft plywood yacht, Roulette, from the YM classified adverts.

In Dyers Boatyard, on the River Itchen, I lived aboard, devouring YM for every practical tit-bit I could find and nurtured dreams from articles on sailing in far-away places. In a second-hand shop I found a bundle of old YMs and by the light of a hurricane lamp this was my evening reading. Over the years I’ve pounced on copies in far-away places I once dreamed of – passing them to other yachties hungry for a YM ‘fix’. It’s hard to explain what it means to find a copy of YM in Turkey, Italy or the Caribbean and sit down for an evening, by the light of a 12 volt halogen reading lamp thumbing through the pages. Congratulations on a 100 years and long may those thumbed copies turn up in far away places.

Ellen MacArthur Skipper Trimaran B&Q
Many congratulations to the Yachting Monthly team on reaching your 100th anniversary. Your coverage and support of major offshore events has helped sailors realise the potential within themselves. YM played a part in founding Europe’s first ocean race, the Fastnet, back in 1925. Now the magazine is read around the world by everyone from creek sailors to circumnavigators. The Offshore Challenges Sailing Team and I wish you every success for the future.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
Yachting Monthly has always excelled at coverage of adventurous cruising – whether coast-hopping in local home waters, or making blue water landfalls on distant horizons. The stories, often by the magazine’s own readers, make fascinating reading, as well as keep us abreast of interesting places to visit. Over the years, the practical seamanship articles, started by Des Sleightholme, have evolved into a modern Sailing Skills section which is essential reading for the non-racing yachtsman.

Sir Chay Blyth
Much has happened in the world of sailing since that heady afternoon 40 years ago of June 4, 1966, when I cast off from Cape Cod with John Ridgway on our 92-day adventure rowing across the Atlantic, which ultimately bounced me into the world of sailing. Yachting Monthly has always been a vital part of the coverage of the sailing scene, reporting on racing and record-breakers, as well as the aspirations of cruising folk and also promoting those all-important seamanship skills that we all need in order to survive. Back in 1992, Yachting Monthly produced the official souvenir programme first British Steel Challenge Round the World Race. Magazines like YM help people chase their dreams and without their publicity, sponsorship would not come true. May you continue to inspire new dreams in a new generation of sailors. Many happy returns on your 100th birthday!

Peter Cumberlidge (Regular contributor)
My oldest copy of YM is March 1950, published at 2/- (10p), when housewives had ration-books, Attlee was Prime Minister and Maurice Griffiths was Editor. Spinnaker Yacht Varnish was advertised at 6/9 (34p) a tin and the lead article covered a reader’s first cruise from the Solent to Dartmouth. After various navigational uncertainties and an incident with a ‘steamer’, the author describes the joy of ‘sailing proudly into that glorious entrance between the forts and dropping our anchor in a beautiful uncrowded harbour twenty-three hours from Bursledon.’

Since 1906, YM has been capturing the essential magic of cruising, a sensation which doesn’t depend on passage length, boat size or the technology of the day. To my mind, the true worth of the magazine has always seemed most apparent in crowded trains, where generations of worn out commuters have been able to escape for precious half-hours into that soothing other world.

Joeseph V. Vittoria, owner of Mirabella V, the biggest sloop in the world
Yachting Monthly has been a big part of my life, off and on for more than 30 years. My first subscription was in 1970, when I ordered my first ‘big boat’, a Nicholson 43. These days I am also a regular online visitor to YM’s website and chat forum, Scuttlebutt, to keep up to date on the yachting scene. I shall always remember the press conference in Portsmouth, just before Mirabella V’s departure on her maiden voyage. Paul Gelder stepped onto my yacht and his eyes rolled and his hand went to his forehead in what I was certain was disbelief. I knew then that Ron Holland and I had achieved our objective in creating something spectacular. While I have only followed Yachting Monthly, and more recently, its web offshoot, for a third of its long life, it’s a great sailing publication and an enjoyable experience

The smallest room in the house expands beyond its humble confines with images of adventure and derring-do at sea, thanks to the pages of Yachting Monthly, which holds a special place in these hallowed grounds. Kicked, scuffed, and dribbled with toothpaste, YM is always there. One day, I’ll be off on another adventure and may find myself kneeling before the ‘throne’ as it bucks to windward, wishing I was home with my steady, reassuring pile of YM’s with its wise, funny and informed content.

Peter Nichols author of Sea Change and a Voyage for Madmen
My earliest memories of Yachting Monthly are indelibly associated with the spectacle of people being hauled before a judge. I was a junior reporter on a newspaper in Wales, and found myself reporting on the panoply of mundane human frailty: drunken motorists, flashers and thieving farm hands. One of my fellow journalists was mad keen about sailing, and always brought the latest Yachting Monthly to court. For sanity’s sake, I read every issue from cover to cover. It didn’t take long before I realised I was living the wrong life.

Mike Richey
Recently I came across an old copy of Yachting Monthly with, amongst other matter on the cover, small picture of the old Jester sailing gracefully along and underneath it the poignant caption The Birth and Death of Jester. It took me back. The article illustrated was my account of the loss of the original boat some 400 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia in the course of the 1988 Single-.handed Transatlantic Race. It was a sad tale and reading it again brought back the awful moments when t had finally to decide to abandon ship.

From the time I bought the boat from Blondie Hasler, at the end of 1964, I had published accounts of all Jester’s significant voyages in Yachting Monthly It gave the boat a wide general audience. “I ‘think Jester is a great boat. I have been an admirer for many years” read a note left on board by an unknown schoolboy before one of the races; and much later, when the boat was lost, an equally unknown Californian wrote that he had read and re-read the article on the loss of Jester and been moved to tears by the anguish of those last days. There is no doubt that this kind of popularity made the decision to build a replacement by public subscription feasible, And equally no doubt that in the event Yachting Monthly, especially through its editor at the time Geoff Pack, was able to play an important part in the launch of the Jester Trust, that made the building of the new boat possible.

Frank Dye
To me a novice sailor, Maurice Griffiths the original editor of Yachting Monthly was a legend. I saw him once seated at his desk. It was a great thrill.

My dealings were with Kathleen Palmer who ran the office with frightening efficiency. She was known as being ‘a bit of a dragon’, a reputation probably well deserved as she published the magazine almost singlehanded throughout the war, and I certainly would have hesitated to cross her. But she was very kind to me, taking a great deal of time and trouble to develop my writing skills. It was another thing she had a reputation for!

My other contact was Winston Megoran who illustrated many articles for YM over the years. His work caught the sea in its many moods wonderfully, and he took immense trouble to depict boats accurately. His drawings of the coasts arid headlands were remarkably accurate and he told me that he served as a deckhand on a trawler to complete his training, and whenever not catching fish he was on deck painting the passing coast and differing sea conditions. He showed me some of his sketches from that time. It was a great privilege to see the early work of such an artist, and he sent me all the original illustrations of my Wayfarer ‘Wanderer’ that he could find just before he died – a great kindness.

It has always seemed to me that Yachting Monthly has at its heart the wider interests of the boating community. Only recently the present editor wrote a heartfelt editorial on the dangers of taking all the clutter of the land onto our boats and imagining it is necessary!

Thank you YM.

“Yachting Monthly in the 1940’s” by Ian Nicolson C.Eng. F.R.I.N.A. HonM.I.I.M.S.

As the Second World War ground down, I left school and was apprenticed at the Dorset Yacht Co. It was then a busy yard, working on small naval vessels as well as getting back into yacht-building, and it took up more than the space now occupied by Moriconium Marina.

My wages were the usual £1.25 per week, and my lodgings cost £2.20 so I needed extra cash. Maurice Griffiths, the legendary YM editor, returned to the editor’s seat from the Royal Navy and he started publishing my articles just in time. The first one I wrote was in long-hand and I had to get one of the team of typists at the Dorset Yacht Co to type it out in her lunch break. The box of chocolates I gave her ate into my publication fee, so I got hold of an old family type-writer and taught my self to use it.

In the first Poole regatta after the War I crewed on the Gauntlet class cruiser “Sinloo” and as new rope was impossible to get, she only had a single genoa sheet. We had to pass it from side to side at every tack. There were few yachts in commission, and crowds of people desperate to get back afloat after 6 years of war, so we had a large crew. Nevertheless things were pretty hectic on board when short tacking out of Poole Harbour’s relatively narrow entrance.

If you think the current yachtsman is tough………you know nothing. In one race in an old wood boat in 1947 we pumped 30 minutes every hour all day to keep her afloat using a semi-rotary pump, an invention of the devil. God bless Whale pumps, which have transformed the yachting scene since those days.

As for roller-furling headsails theyve made a whole generation of yachtsmen as soft as golfers. Half the fun of sailing was changing a headsail faster than rivals. Plenty of boats had no stanchions or guardrails in the 1940’s and the first time I got the genoa down and working jib up, in mid-channel, a wave washed me off the fore-deck and only the lee shrouds stopped me from going over the side. All this excitement was subtly reflected in the 1940s issues of YM.

‘Wanderbug’ and Margaret Dye remember Des
Many people remember Des Sleightholme for his droll sense of humour. but I remember him for his humanity, as illustrated by his setting up ‘Sailing for the Blind’.

‘How can I help?” I asked when saying goodbye to Des departing a 1990’s Boat Show. “You can take them sailing” he replied simply.

I was then Wayfarer Cruising Secretary and cruising rallies were establishing well. The following summer we had an East Coast cruising rally: Des had arranged that the blind girls joined in. My crew were the head girl and her friend. Charlotte took the helm and sailed towards the bar. “Shall I tell you when we are approaching the bar?” I ventured. I wasn’t expecting my crew to take over the Wayfarer immediately. “May we tell you?” was their reply.

In a small close knit fleet, six Wayfarers sailed along the calm coast and into the Alde estuary, and we all had a lovely camp. The only time the blind girls asked for assistance was to be shown the loos immediately we landed!

We put them on the train at the end of the rally, and the girls returned to their London residential school.

Des taught us all that sailing was for all and that blindness was no barrier.