Season according to taste...

Spring is upon us! Although the magazine cover may be telling us that it’s June, it isn’t really – it’s April, and that means we have months of sailing ahead of us.

If, like me, you’ve been cooped up behind a desk staring moodily at what the Scots gruffly call ‘smir’ for what feels like a lifetime, the call of the running tide now feels less of a call than an unstoppable force akin to gravity or Betty Boothroyd.

Here’s hoping that the unknowable machinations of British weather appreciate the allure of sunshine and soft breezes as much as we do and give us a sailing season to remember.

Returning briefly to smir, a totally unverified website lists a total of 109 Scottish words for rain; an indication, perhaps, of how much this form of precipitation affects our northern cousins and thoroughly trouncing the claimed 50 Eskimo words for snow.

But, it seems, the Scots may not have a monopoly – smir is thought to derive from the Dutch word for smother or mist: smoor. Holland in the rain is every bit as dismal as Britain, so it’s perhaps no surprise that we share some of the same (often colourful) language used to describe shades of grey.

On balance though, I think the seasons are a good thing. Northern Europe offers some of the most diverse land- and seascapes in the world, but they come at a price which includes frequent wetting and occasional freezing.

But if we had none of that and enjoyed the stable temperatures and (moderately) predictable rainfall of the Caribbean, would I have ended the first sentence of this column with an exclamation mark? Probably not.

Variety is the spice of life, and it’s in our nature to take things for granted if we’re given them for too long.

For that reason, our limited sailing season might be a good thing, and make us appreciate our sport all the more.

It seems to work for our Scandinavian cousins; despite a short season sandwiched by months of chilly gloom, they enjoy a fabulous sailing ground and make the most of it in the summer months.

I once heard that one of the Swedish sailing magazines even changes the production cycle to take two months off in the summer to generate the articles they need to see them through the winter – and, of course, enjoy being on the water. Maybe there’s an idea for PBO in there somewhere…

So it’s with enjoyment in mind that I’m heading off to work on the boat this weekend, in company no doubt with many other boat owners eager to lift their boats from hibernation and take advantage of the beauty, tranquillity and variety offered by the British coastline when viewed from the water.

After a major refit carried out over 2014-2016, Red Dragon is in pretty good fettle, but as always there are jobs to do. We’ll be fitting a new fuel filler, restoring the cockpit grating and painting the cabin sole, as well as the usual antifouling chore.

But it’s work with a purpose and a clear reward, so I’m looking forward to it.

Whether you read this issue gently basking in the pleasure of a timely launch or on tea breaks while frantically getting ready for the season, I hope you find something to enjoy.

Our cover story this month deals with the thorny problem of the relationship between racers and cruisers on the water.

As always, the answer lies in a bit of give-and-take, not in who shouts loudest. We also take a look at paintbrushes; they are not all created equal, and making the right choice can dramatically improve your results.

Welcome, spring – let’s go sailing!

Happy Birthday, PBO.

Fair winds,
David Pugh

David Pugh, PBO editor

David Pugh, PBO editor

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Here’s a full list of the June 2017 issue’s contents

Who gives way?: Advice for cruising near a racing fleet

20 lifesaving alternatives: Is a lifejacket the best option?

Illingworth & Primrose designs: Proof that if a boat looks right, it probably is right

PBO tested – Paintbrushes: Tested for finish and minimum bristle loss

Servicing an outboard gearbox: Carrying out maintenance on small outboard motors

Dinghy design by iteration: A reader finesses the construction of a dinghy over the course of four attempts

PBO Project Boat 2 – Adding hull sides: The Secret 20 gains 6mm ply hull panels

View from the boatyard: A new series of observations from Southwold Boatyard: this month, chainplate shortcomings

Keeping new crew happy: Encouraging newcomers aboard – and keeping them coming back

Spækhuggers in the Canaries: Denmark’s best-kept secret

The Deben to Leigh-on-Sea: Part one of Richard Hare’s Thames Estuary odyssey

Travels of a hobo: A reader sails an uninsured, un-surveyed Raven 26 from New Zealand to Fiji

How to improve hatch fittings: PLUS more reader projects and tips

Leech, roach and batten snagging: Hints and tips from the PBO Sketchbook

Beyond the invisible blue line: From Tonga to New Zealand on the Blue Water Rally

Castlebay charm: Step into a different world on the isle of Barra


Waiting for the tide: The editor’s welcome to this month’s PBO – sign up for PBO’s free monthly e-newsletter at:

‘Mad about the Boat’ columnist Dave Selby: A technical knockout

Columnist Sam Llewellyn: Impeccable handling

Monthly musings from Andrew Simpson: Statistically speaking…

PBO products and services: Books and plans from the PBO shop

New regular chandlery offers

News: Brexit: what happens next… and more

Regional news: Tragic loss of helicopter crew… and more

New regular chandlery offers

Readers’ letters: Your views

Ask the experts: Venting a diesel fuel tank, treating topsides… and more

New gear: PBO looks at the latest marine products

Build a boat from a kit

There’s a great way to own a new boat on a budget – build it yourself. We followed five builders…