"If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. If it happens to be an auxiliary cruising boat, it is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of man–a home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than like a fish or a girl, and in which the homeowner can remove his daily affairs as far from shore as he has the nerve to take them, close hauled or running free–parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive."

  • E. B. Quinton White

The Years Thunder By

From a man who pursued an acting career solely to finance his sailing addiction.

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… "cruising" it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

"I’ve always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can’t afford it." What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

  • Sterling Hayden (Wanderer, 1973)

The Big Boat!

I’ve started saving for the big boat.


Depending on how I do over the next six months, it’ll see how big the boat gets. I’m aiming for a 40 ft sailboat because I need separate cabins for my daughter and son when I force them to come and live with me at the weekends.

So if anyone wants to donate a few grand to my boat fund so I have somewhere to live this year, it would be awesome. ???

My target is about £40,000. I have about £5,000 so far. I’ll need a bit extra if I’m going to hire a skipper to help me sail it back from wherever it’s moored plus fuel and supplies so my target is a bit higher than that.

And if you don’t want to donate, please think of any mostly legal services I can perform on evenings and weekends. I’m not entirely averse to the slightly immoral 😛 😛 😛 or even the plainly distasteful. I’ve worked in bars on the mornings after the Friday and Saturday nights (Thanks Dad!), I’ve scraped cow crap and tonnes of chicken litter and I’ve worked for a bank (lowest of the low).

Happy to bring anyone who’s willing on board to help me ship it back (think of it as a holiday) and make a real trip out of it.

All I can promise is that when we arrive in Belfast, we’ll have a party ??? and ideally we’ll take the bugger out sailing when the weather improves!

P.S. this entire post is actually about being happy that I’ve managed to get about £5K into the fund so be happy for me!

P.P.S. Also willing to ‘entertain’ rich widows. Seriously. 😛

2016 Training Plan

This is just an aide-memoire for me. It’s like a new years resolution but with costs and URLs. Limited only by my available holidays.


  • RYA VHF Radio Licence Certificatelink – It is compulsory that any vessel with a VHF Radio installed must have a licensed operator.
  • RYA Diesel Engine Maintenance Certificate Courselink – A one-day beginners’ training course to help you prevent and solve diesel engine failure.
  • RYA Competent Crewlink – Five nights aboard and five days sailing. An ideal way to learn more about sailing in a safe and fun environment.
  • STCW Basic Safety Training (STCW 95 & 2010)link – the legal minimum requirement for anyone looking for commercial work aboard vessels over 24 metres, in accordance with the STCW Code A-VI/1.
    • Personal Survival Techniques (STCW A-VI/1-1)
    • Fire Fighting & Fire Prevention (STCW A-VI/1-2)
    • Elementary First Aid (STCW A-VI/1-3)
    • Personal Safety & Social Responsibility (STCW A-VI/1-4)
    • Proficiency in Security Awareness (STCW A-VI/6-1)

Down Coastal Rowing Club

I took a trip to Donaghadee to visit the Coastal Rowing Club. They’re mid-build at the moment on a skiff. I’m working with some other folk to investigate how Bangor might get a boat build started. The Donaghadee build was one of nine sites sponsored by the PSNI and the Strangford and Lecale Partnership. You can find out more information here.

My interest isn’t specifically in the skiffs. Unless they can take a mast-step. Then it becomes a lot more interesting.

Bangor Coastal Rowing/Sailing/Boat-building Group

First meeting of the Bangor Coastal Rowing/Sailing/Boat-building Group was tonight. I think it’s a darned shame that towns and villages up and down the Ards peninsula have projects involving this sort of thing but where there’s a will there’s a way.

I’m going to link up some things I found before:

I’ll add to this as much as I can.

Before the Mast…

These Fishermen Melt Down the Plastic They Catch to Make Furniture…While They’re Still Fishing

Down Coastal Rowing Club – an initiative to build 8 St Ayle Skiffs – 19 or 21ft long narrow boat made from 9mm plywood, rows 4 with a cox

Row The Erne – a community based organisation empowering people of all abilities and ages to build and row traditional craft on the Erne Waterway System in County Fermanagh.

and I previously covered Galgael.