I have no idea what happens in Genesis 2 and neither do i have a book of words to find out !
In my earlier genesis post i talked about parts of the journey so far : in that one for example my mental escape from one discipline and just one boat type. I also said in that post that it was a difficult period that had me working every hour and night available to clear a negative equity debt but that it was also a period of intense study and thought about outdoor adventure : worth saying that by this stage i was an accidental triple cape-horner (twice one year) with near to 200,000 sea miles logged.
Its very tempting as i sit here tapping away at the keyboard to go off down any one of he many avenues i explored once i was recovering from that particular episode : how i got into bushcraft for example and on that path fell under the tutelage of Ray Mears and also how that path brought me almost full circle back to the sea via the canoe and the sea-kayak. Today though i would like to keep it tight and talk about 2 lines of discovery and enquiry with small sailing boats and where that has left me today.
The first line of enquiry is something that i have touched on before and i guess most sailors do to some extent at some time in their sailing life and that is to define the perfect or at least ideal boat for their intentions (Not their desires i note) : we do all i am sure have fantasy boats that we daydream about, mine is probably a Freedom 35 or maybe an OVNI 36 …..and of course the budget to run such a boat, either could be a full time and very comfortable liveaboard. The fantasy boat is of course most often a long way away from the ideal boat which if we have any sense at all is far smaller, more manageable and i bet would get used far more. At first i couldn’t define what the ideal boat would be let alone the perfect one until i started to formally define the ‘mission’ or purpose that the boat had to complete and today i look at so many boats in so many marinas and just wonder “what is this boat for” ? as so many just seem to be status symbols and ego trips. I started my own exercise right then of trying to define what the purpose of my next boat would actually be and its remarkably similar to what i need in a boat today. I defined the ‘mission’ if you want to call it that as going off exploring the wilder coastlines in this part of the world and if feasible much further afield, i decided that the interesting parts weren’t the long ocean passages that i had done but the crinkly bits often very shallow and dynamic where coast meets sea and even further inland into the estuaries and tidal rivers. This was an exciting discovery given that nearly everything that i had crewed on and driven in the previous 5 years needs the length of a wayfarer dinghy and some just to stay afloat ! and so much sailing area is denied to such craft. Working with the same idea i was able to define that ideally the boat should be beachable and sit on its own bottom, be able to slip into very shallow water and yet still be able to beat off a lee shore when it had to. I also thought then that shelter would be a longer term essential, especially somewhere that i could sit and lie down in under a cuddy or in a cabin : even then i was looking at but beginning to reject the idea of a cruising dinghy although today i greatly respect that genre. This and a few other key details started to shape the envelope and its no coincidence that my perfect or ideal boat started to sound just like the ‘perfect boat’ of essayist fame that became translated as the canoe-yawls of the Humber. Funnily enough but once it was all thought out and written out, even been to see some of the likely candidates i then left the idea alone for many years not the least because i couldn’t afford what i really wanted….i did find one.
The second avenue of thinking that i followed was a very hard-nosed and budget conscious desire to get afloat again but with the best possible boat for its budget that i could find that would most nearly do the job i wanted of a boat. The first time i seriously looked at this idea i first checked my bank balance and with £500 in my bank account that i wasn’t just going to chuck in the debt hole tried to find a boat for that amount : today of course we might just start with a 99 pence reserve ‘something’ on ebay and see what we could do with it. I nearly sourced a fairly beaten up wayfarer dinghy and almost instantly realised that the catch would be that i would really need a trailer and a car. I did work up a quite serious plan for a modified Wayfarer using gear sourced from the boat jumbles near where i was living and the odds and ends that can be found at the margins of the sailing world. I didn’t buy that boat as i had nowhere to keep it and by then was already contemplating the unsteady heights of the £1000 boat….my word 4 figures !. Its a strange coincidence that a mate of mine in the sailing world (Ian Macgillivray) had much the same idea and set up his own thousand-pounder AND sailed it to the caribbean sea and back….well done mate !. Ian i think had better contacts than i did and he really did have the nose to find these often abandonned boats and both the skills and patience to turn them from sad projects into viable seagoing yachts. I found several that would have made a starting point as what i was looking for was a sound hull and deck with ideally its rig intact and some gear : everything else i felt could be built up from there. My fun became many an afternoon kicking around the hidden back row in the cheaper boatyards and asking the gaffer or foreman if there was anything going cheap….amazing what a bit of cheek and nerve will do. The boats that i found i would then thoroughly research, most weren’t the popular marques that seem to hold their value but often ‘failed’ or unpopular designs but which could be tweaked into shape. I came back to this last year when i discovered Dylan and KTL and his first boat in that series : in my own searching for a boat its the kind of boat that i would have also looked at.
Eventually both lines of thought ran close together and once i moved to the west country i started my own project with an uncompleted home build and a type that was not only unpopular with the general yachting scene but came off the board of a designer with a definitely different alternative approach to not only boat design but pretty well everything else as well : in short one of James Wharram’s catamarans, i still remember the incredulity i met when i was temporarily standing-in as navigator on a maxi refit and mentioned my project . What we were doing that day was running up the solent quite hard under spinnaker and with the tide under us were making up to 15 knots over the ground and i was rapidly counting down the minutes to when we had to get the kite down and turn into southampton water : the irony is that the previous weekend i had cruised into the Erme aboard my Tiki 26, had come out of the river under full sail not noticing the clouds racing across and over towards the sound, thus i came out into a sou-easterly blowing about a 6…within minutes i was hurtling towards the sound at much the same kind of speed and hanging on for dear life at one point surfing past a local 38 foot race boat.
Some time i must try and look out Iain Mac and get him to recount the story of his thousand pound project, its one i have often returned to especially in this day of the ebay project boat sell-off. Not so long ago i had occasion to visit Huggins yard at Torpoint where i used to hang out : in the yard were 2 boats with a price of around £200 dry-marked on the side and both viable contenders for a good beginning. This sort of thing isn’t the world of well known designs and yacht brokers but rather the greater fun of poking around the back lot in the cheaper yards. The one broker i do know of but never met is Andy Seedhouse on the east coast : http://www.andyseedhouseboats.co.uk/