June 2019

At last the boating season is here.  A very warm Easter saw me painting the topsides of my wooden boat, Swift, doing my best to keep a wet edge going, writes Nick Ward.

Time to shake the spiders out of the sails, clean the decks, haul her out and clean her bottom and polish the propeller or to anti-foul it. And then go sailing!

There are many yards on the Island to choose from, who can do this sort of work for you.  You will find they are very well-run and give good service.  Lots of owners will spend the Winter afloat, only hauling out in the Spring for a quick wash and brush up. Others will bring their boats out in the Autumn and store them ashore until the Spring.  It’s all down to cost: what is best for the boat?

My teak wooden Twister stayed afloat all Winter on a swinging mooring, tucked up under a good cover with plenty of air circulation. She wintered well, but when the time came to have her lifted and scrubbed, I found under engine she only did three knots. We were dragging half the Solent seaweed into the dock! The yard efficiently cleaned her off, but when I poked my finger up the cockpit drain, something bit me. I had lodgers and they had to go.

Some of the keener enthusiasts will sail all Winter. Water sports these days can be an all-round year pastime. And if you do it, much of it is about the clothing – having the right kit to keep you warm. Last Winter I enjoyed good sailing in a 40ft French-built boat with every gadget under the Winter sun, even warm air central heating controlled from an app from the owner’s phone.

Once the Spring came, our brokerage came alive with lots of new boats to sell and plenty finding new homes very quickly.  Gone are the days when enthusiastic sailors would scour the yachting magazines, then go from Broker to Broker looking for the right boat. It’s all online nowadays, and prospective buyers are hungry for detailed images, some asking for specific pictures and measurements before they make the journey to the Island to look at the boat.

I met a very nice prospective buyer, who came from Poland to look at a French boat I had to sell, and which I later sold to a Spaniard from Barcelona. The lovely little fishing boat that we only had for sale for a week found a new home in the Shetland Isles, and I enjoyed delivering a 28ft motor sailer to the East Coast for a customer, a very pleasant trip.

It’s been a busy first half of the year and I have only sailed my boat, Swift, a handful of times so far, but I am looking forward to venturing further afield during the late Summer.  Last year, a friend and I sailed her back from the Baltic, via the Kiel canal. It took three weeks, perhaps I will tell you all about that trip in my next column!

Back to work, and offering advice is part of the service we give at Waypoint. Although one very nice couple who came to view a motorboat recently had clearly had not anticipated the friendly advice offered.

The boat in question was a well-looked-after motorboat that could easily speed down the Solent. A bit nippy, not the easiest to anchor nor in fact to get onboard. Not far into the viewing I often ask, “what do you want to use the boat for?”

It became very clear to me that this couple were more suited to a semi-displacement hull, cruising at, say, 10 knots, with good stable decks and grab rails for safe anchor handling and mooring.

“Yes”, they both said, “Have you got one on the books? “No, but it’s what I believe you need”. The viewing was cut short and there was no sale that day, but the following day we received an acceptable offer on the very same boat.

And I will look for a nice boat for my elderly couple.