It’s time to go……!
Blog time : It’s late July 2020, technically the middle of summer in the UK so of course it’s raining, in fact it’s been raining on and off for most of the day. Just now i stepped through to the other side of the house where our bedroom window looks out onto the long tree covered ridge of high land on the other side of the valley where i often walk now. Today it was like looking out onto a vista of the ‘Misty Mountains’ as a fine clag of low cloud and fine rain softened the view to grey-green. Later, if it stops raining i’ll stop whatever i’m doing and get out for a walk.
Today, this evening in fact, is the day that my boat either sells or doesn’t sell as the sale/auction on Ebay finishes so by the time you read this i may or may not be a boat owner any more : i’m hoping she sells because i think it’s time to move on and do other things. The boat is in a clean and tidy state and pretty much ready to sail away, iv’e had a couple of serious enquiries and some good questions but as always it’s not over until it’s over : if it doesn’t go on Ebay tonight it’s also advertised on one of the conventional online boat markets for a month .
So, is this the end of boats, sailing and the sea for me ?.
I doubt it as i have another long term boat project in mind but to start that one i need to sell WABI”’ and to be clear of the time and expense of running her and keeping her at a boatyard. For now though i have no great desire to do the kind of thing i did last year, either in the shape of a cross channel trip or a cruise in either direction along the south west coast. As many of you will know the river authorities here took it upon themselves to stop all navigation on the river ; essentially a curfew in other words , and i think it was that that was the last straw for me although ultimately just one among several factors .
For now iv’e got enough to be getting on with, from my other recent posts you might have noticed that i’m in serious training and preparation for a major hiking trip if i can get fit enough. Right now my hiking daypack is packed and ready by the door- just going for a hike in the local woods or overland to the nearest town is now a simpler and more immediate pleasure than all of the hassles of juggling transport and tide times just to get out to the boat…..obviously , even a couple of hours spent walking over these moderate hills is far better exercise than sitting next to a clattering outboard just to get down the river.
If that all sounds a bit negative then of course it is a bit and that’s because endings are always a bit sad especially with things that have formerly been important to us or given us pleasure and WABI”’ was perhaps my best boat ever. If i look back at all it’s to a very good last year in that kind of sailing where i got to live on the boat for most of the summer, made an exceptional voyage with her and did get to many of the places that i’d always wanted to and which bigger boats just can’t.
Like i say though it’s not likely to be the end of boats, sailing and the sea for me as i do have a future project in mind and it’s still based around the kind of small sailing boat or sailing/rowing boat that i could keep at home. It’s possible that i’ll even build the next boat or do a conversion from an existing boat : i have a couple of designs and designers in mind and i may even buy in some study plans to ponder over this autumn. To build a boat here i’d need to build a shelter first because the workshop/garage just isn’t long enough or wide enough to build a hull in there although it will be fine for building the various parts and sub-assemblies.
The kind of thing i’m talking about is a small boat, essentially a larger dinghy or dayboat that can be rowed and sailed , will be capable of a voyage along the coast but is small enough to live at home….just doing that takes away all the expense of a seasonal mooring and then storage costs in the boatyard over a winter. The ‘thing’ itself is less important than the spirit of the project which is a combination of seamanship and bushcraft : moving on the water just by the power of wind, tide and a strong pair of arms….and then making camps along the wild margin of our salt rivers and estuaries.
In case you’re wondering and thinking “haven’t we been here before” ?, then yes we have and with the Devon Yawl/Dayboat project : well, that might have worked although to be honest it was really too heavy a boat for the project i have in mind. Also, if you’re thinking ‘Wayfarer’ then also no… (ultimately capable but as boring as sin). A sailing canoe would just about work, ditto a sailing kayak but canoe’s are best when kept as canoe’s and kayaks as kayaks….neither were ever intended to be half and half. What i have in mind is something that comes from the world of sail but could be rowed , scull’d or paddled as necasary or much better, something that has been designed from the outset to use sail and oar just like many of our small native craft did for many years.
Now though…..the clouds are breaking up, iv’e sat here for far too long and drank too much coffee ; there’s a touch of blue sky over the misty mountains and i feel the need for some exercise.