You were right. The many of you, that is, who after visiting our last project boat Hantu Biru at her various boat show appearances, commented ‘you’ll miss her when she’s gone’.

Ben Meakins and I lasted about five minutes before looking around for another project, cooking up our latest venture in a few bleak winter afternoons and sessions bouncing emails halfway around the world.

The result is now in our garage/workshop, a 20ft plywood gaffer very much in kit form at present. You’ll find the full story on pages 26 to 29 of the latest issue, but in short she’s based on an Essex smack, designed by an Englishman who now lives in Australia, comes as a kit consisting of a keel, pre-cut plywood frames and a lot of extra bits of wood, has travelled here from Queensland and on completion will become a very pretty little yacht called a Secret 20.

The unsaid words between those last two points are the daunting ones – we now need to build her. It’s a huge amount of work which we somehow have to shoehorn into already busy jobs, but Ben and I are both eager to start.

We do miss having a project boat – putting words to paper and even going afloat to test gear and research seamanship articles is all very well, but there’s a fundamental need in some people to create something tangible and lasting.

This need never goes away, and finishing a project is both an achievement and a bereavement. People deal with completing projects in different ways, some by moving straight on to another one and others by never finishing at all – but being without a project is not an option.

We complain about the work, but imagine a future where all you have to welcome you home is a sofa and a television – I, for one, would be bored in five minutes.

So, despite obligatory grumbling, our new project holds the promise of lots of practical satisfaction. It will doubtless be measured in years rather than months, but the kit should allow us to build something boat-shaped relatively swiftly.

We’re excited, and I hope you catch the bug too as you read about it in the coming issues. If you do, and you’re not already a subscriber, a subscription is the most cost-effective way to keep reading PBO.

This month’s issue is packed with stories from people who enjoy working on their boats.

Mark Ryan, who somehow juggles work, boat ownership and looking after a young family while still finding time to do extensive projects on his Albin Ballad, tackles the contentious issue of DIY gas system installation, while an ingenious reader carries out a budget fix to repair the broken mast on his Hallberg-Rassy Rasmus 35.

Norman Eastwood gets to grips with onboard PCs, we show you how to get a lasting shine on gelcoat and Stan Cockeram, erstwhile technical guru for Harken UK, discusses the whys and wherefores of furlers and how to fix them.

On the water we re-rig a motor-sailer to make her easier for a couple to handle and Peter Poland talks to several crews for whom sailing has become a way of life, taking them all over the world in ordinary, affordable boats.

But maybe sailing is a way of life for all of us. Kenneth Grahame’s Rat had it right when he extolled the virtues of messing around in boats, but he never said if it involved wood shavings and epoxy. I think it does: if you’re a practical boat owner, it doesn’t matter whether you’re messing around in or on the boat, it’s in the blood.

We’ll be on hand at on Dave Selby’s stand (A134) at Southampton Boat Show to talk about the new project, where there will also be plenty of practical demos taking place. Come and visit!

Fair winds,
David Pugh

David Pugh, PBO editor

David Pugh, PBO editor

Click here to find out more about our latest subscription deals.

…from the UK

…from the USA

…from the Rest of the World

Here’s a full list of the October 2016 issue’s contents:

Discover our new Secret: Introducing PBO’s new project boat – a Secret 20 kit

PBO Tested – Navtex: Obsolete or essential?

Hull polishing: Get a good shine, even on faded gelcoat

Repairing a broken mast: A reader fixes the damaged mast on his Hallberg-Rassy – the result of a collision

Building a boat PC: Tired of lugging a heavy laptop back and forth, a reader resolves to fit a PC system

DIY gas dos and don’ts: Fitting a gas system on your boat? Have your work checked by professionals

Choosing and fixing furlers: Which furler is best for your boat?

Cordless angle grinders: Could one of these help to save your yacht in the event of a dismasting?

The story of Challenge: The last steam tug on the Thames

Little known haunts on the Blackwater: Investigating quieter creeks and shoals

Chasing distant horizons: Part two of Peter K Poland’s look at long-distance production boat adventurers

Django 7.70: A trip to South Brittany to try out the twin-keel version of the 7.70

Ventus 70: A reader installs and assesses a Forgen Ventus 70 wind generator

Improve the rig on a motor-sailer: Making a motor-sailer more manageable by carrying out a few simple tweaks

The best day sailing ever: Sometimes everything simply falls into place on a passage, as a reader recalls

Sailing with cerebral palsy: A lifelong medical condition needn’t impede your single-handed sailing pleasure

Boat charter in Friesland: Taking a traditional flat-bottomed boat around the IJsselmeer and Waddenzee

Portree, the capital of Skye: The rich history of a port fit for kings

Construct a mast hoist: PLUS more reader projects and tips

Deal with halyards and cables: Hints and tips from the PBO Sketchbook


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: DIY Doctor Dave

Columnist Sam Llewellyn: What is and isn’t OK to jettison over the side

Monthly musings from Andrew Simpson: Favouring the broad-brush approach

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

News: Lessons learned from devastating yacht fire, new marine heritage scheme… and more

Regional news: Navigational warning in Brightlingsea area, Peel Harbour dredging delay… and more

Readers’ letters: Your views

Ask the experts: Sheet slippage and hull flexing problems, and more reader queries answered

New gear: PBO looks at the latest marine products

A typical reefed sail plan on a cruising yacht – the leech pennant needs to be tighter and the headsail car is too far aft – but it’s better than many. Credit:

PBO Sail Clinic: How to reef

How do you ensure an efficient reef with a roller-reefing headsail and slab-reefing mainsail? David Harding explains

how to tow alongside

How to tow alongside

Towing another boat in the confines of a harbour means that you'll need to set up a tow alongside. Here's…