I have lost count of the number of times I have strolled down docks and walk on moorings in various places around the world looking at various yachts. Some are old and tired, others are a bright and gleaming testament to the advances of boat building techniques. Some have live aboard owners who are generally quick to nod to or greet a stranger – but inevitably there will be at least one boat that lies forgotten, neglected and forlorn. They are easy to spot – their mooring lines are mostly in a tatty state, seagulls and other birds have crapped all over the boat and the bottom of the boat could easily pass as a small aquaculture enterprise.
Occasionally the boats are real old dogs, that even in their prime were probably not nice to sail, but there are an equal number of really good designs that with just a bit of TLC and a handful of loot could once again be ready to do what they were designed to do – sail on the world’s oceans. This somewhat melancholy train of thought was stirred this morning when Jean Yves brought a number of sailing guides up from his cabin. For many years now the go to bible for cruising yachtsmen has been a number of very well researched and written tombs of the various cruising grounds, ocean routes and innumerable ports around the world by Jimmy Cornell. They are exceptional pieces of work, and have a very hefty price tag attached to them.
During the clean up and re arranging of the boat last week we came across a number of chart portfolio’s covering the Caribbean and Mediterranean cruising grounds. Although I could see that the charts had never been used the significance of that went straight over my head. It was only when I had a look at the cruising guides this morning and saw that they too were brand new and unused – they are pristine when compared to my copy of the cruising guide to East Africa which has innumerable sweat drop stains and whose spine is reinforced with duct tape.
Unused charts and cruising guides… I can’t help but feel a deep sense of sadness as to me this is as clear a case of dreams unfulfilled as I have come across – it is as if the previous owner got the boat this far and then something happened, exactly what is not for me to even speculate about. But whatever the circumstances were the boat was sold and all the tools and means to realize the dream of sailing amongst exotic islands went with it.
This particular boat was sailed from South Africa to the UK and then down to Spain where she is now berthed. Very soon she will once more have her bows pointing to some distant horizon on a brand new adventure, and it is now up to Jean Yves to resurrect the dream – that of secluded anchorages in gin clear waters that range from a pale turquoise in the shallows to a deep almost purple blue in the deeper channels, of crystal white palm fringed beaches and the haunting cries of foraging seabirds. Yachts are meant to sail, not lie dormant in some or other wretched marina.