Practical Boat Owner

Mediterranean misadventures

Wanderlust can be an incurable disease. I caught it while spending my early working life at sea. After some years ashore the urge to return to sea was back.

It was1986 and I was a fit and healthy 55-year-old. I had owned my Elizabethan 23, Reservation for six years and had her in reasonable good condition. She still had many failings, the biggest being the 4hp Stuart Turner engine with its 32 ⁄3gal fuel tank. Also, she had no furling genoa, which wasn’t so much of a problem for me at that age. The windvane was off a boat which had been round Britain but I never got it to work.

The early autohelm constantly broke down and it’s hard now to remember what conditions were like before Decca or GPS – just the trusty Sea Fix and trailing log.

Money was also going to be a problem with no ‘hole in the wall’ and relying on travellers’ cheques or cash. Not that I had much of that, having packed my job in and no income. I had vaguely hoped to fund the trip by working on other peoples’ boats along the way. This didn’t work out as, unable to afford marina fees, I didn’t meet them!

It was all very reckless but I revelled in this chance to test my capabilities. I had no objective or destination in mind but set off for France in the middle of May.

I worked westward and then south to Concarneau before crossing Biscay. This went well and I made landfall at Ribadeo, halfway along the north Spanish coast.

I had arrived

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