My life

I’ve been sailing all my life

I started sailing back in 1961 when my Dad shoved me and a pal off on the Norfolk Broads in a 22-foot gaff sloop with no engine. That way you either learn fast or come to grief. I was fourteen and I was lucky. Since those days I’ve sailed most things –  from Firefly dinghies at University when I should have been reading law, to big gaff schooners. I’ve been Mate on a coasting merchant ship and run yachts for gentlemen. I’ve also operated charter boats, delivered all sorts of vessels, raced at quite high levels and taught sailing, becoming a Yachtmaster Examiner in 1978.

For forty years traditional boats were my passion.  My wife Ros and I have sailed them all over the Atlantic, from southern Brazil to Iceland and from the Caribbean to Russia, with a number of trips to the US and Canada thrown in. I love traditional craft, but I’m happy on anything that does the job properly. Now I have a modern classic which takes us off for three months in the summer to such destinations as Finland and back.

Family commitments in the mid-1980s started me writing and lecturing about the sea. My first commercial article was about star sights. It was published by Yachting Monthly and they asked me for more. On the strength of this and the advance for my book, Topsail and Battleaxe, I came ashore after living aboard for many years. These days I operate from a cottage in the New Forest. The arrangement suits me well because it gives me somewhere to grow roses and to keep my motorcycle, but I still sneak plenty of time out to go cruising.

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