Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
– Moby Dick, Herman Melville
My mate Kurt and I grew up in Porthleven, Cornwall, in the days when the village was a fishing port. Before the tourists and fishing quotas turned it into the Rick Stein restaurant destination it is now.
We grew up in the shadow of giants, names that were living legends in the village. These men’s antics and their boats were mythical; the folklore of the village. Kurt’s dad was a fisherman and, for a time, the harbour master of Porthleven.
Needless to say, we both spent a lot of time around boats. We used to scull around the harbour in ‘punts’, small wooden boats, at weekends and after school. For a time Kurt and I used to put crab pots down outside the harbour from his little punt and haul and rebait them before school each morning. We’d sell the crabs and lobsters to friends, but mostly to my Gran and Grandad.
Sculling is the art of moving the boat through the water with only one oar mounted over the transom of the boat. You never saw people rowing in Porthleven. The boats used to be moored so close together that oars over the sides of a punt would prevent navigation between the bigger fishing boats. It’s a great skill to have. Good for the body and soul.
Life moved on and we both moved away, went to university, built livelihoods for ourselves, met partners and got married. Our eldest kids are now hitting teenage.
Dreams of boating are returning. Kurt has two boats already; A lug-rigged Cygnus Oyster punt and a 16ft Buccaneer fishing boat, with said Oyster Punt’s sailing rig grafted on it.
Neither of them are the kind of boat that you’d want to take out on a proper voyage. Neither of us have ever owned that sort of a boat. But recently we got talking about how 1970’s fiberglass boats can be had cheaply enough, and could take you many miles at sea for a reasonable price. That fact niggled away and we both found ourselves looking at boat ads on ebay, boatshed, boats and outboards, and broker’s websites.
Lots of boat idea have been exchanged and a challenge has emerged. The challenge is this:
To each buy a boat over the winter and get it ready for a sailing trip (race!) to the Scilly Isles in July 2017. May the best man win.
On this blog we’ll both share our thoughts and progress on this voyage of discovery. We hope you enjoy it!