So how did this all begin?… what? the sailing, the blog, or the trip? Well everything really. It begins as beginnings often do, many years ago as a child, or maybe even before that. I’m unsure how or why my mother’s father sailed but he did and did so very well, or so it seems, as he was an instructor at the UK’s Joint Service Sailing Centre in Gosport. My father’s father on the other hand taught himself after moving to the East Coast having retired from the Army in the 1960s. Both passed their love of sailing onto their children (my parents) and years later Mum & Dad would borrow, for summer holidays, my paternal grandfather’s yacht, Crystabel (yacht is a rather grand term, for it was only 24′ long, bilge-keeled and rather basic) and take my sister and me out in her for week-long excursions.
My first recollection of sailing is of sea sickness; feeling rough on the port side of Crystabel and being tended to by my mother, this was aged about three and a half. Happier memories are there too; we would sail for days to get to a deserted sandy paradise, with rope-swings and perfect picnics. In this Suffolk haven we would swim and frolic and enjoy the warm weather. Latterly I discovered that this small area of sand on a bend in the River Deben, known as ‘the rocks’, sits only a mile downstream from the Maybush pub in Waldringfield, where Crystabel was moored.
From those simple beginnings – and I do not forget how fortunate I was to have such a fortunate upbringing – I developed a love of sailing. When we moved to Cambridgeshire, a Gull dinghy was added to the family and Dad took me out on Grafham Water, trying as best anyone can to teach a restless 11 year old the finer points of sailing and capsize drills. Knorr chicken soup for 20p a cup from a vending machine in the club house was always my favourite way to warm up after a day out on the water on a less than warm British summer’s day.
As a teenager I didn’t sail much until 17 but that love of being able to travel freely under sail, coupled with those fond memories as a child, were a strong draw back to the water. Those same memories stuck with me and set a foundation of being comfortable at sea, meaning that when future opportunities were presented I took them. The first of which was an offer to attend a Competent Crew course out of Gosport. I enjoyed the week thoroughly and at the end of the course, on being presented with the news that I had passed, the instructor “Smudge” said that he thought that I had what it took to [one day] get my Yachtmaster – the gauntlet had been laid…
If you’d like to see the rocks as they are today, KeepTurningLeft has visited there in his trip around the UK: www.KeepTurningLeft.co.uk, specifically Series 2, Episode ??.