If you’re thinking of buying your first boat – and quite possibly your last – you should get a Sailfish 18.

However, if you’ve just bought a boat and it isn’t a Sailfish 18 you’ve made a terrible and costly mistake.

Because although Sailfishes are on rare occasions obtained with money, they are more usually acquired from roundabouts under cover of darkness, the onset of which can, with a little practice, be ascertained by reference to costly nautical almanacs, or by looking at the sky, which represents a considerable cost-saving.

Thus, not only will you have acquired a yacht for nothing, you will be also be able to soften the blow by presenting your loved one with the daffodils the local council planted in the Sailfish.

Impartial and independent advice, such as mine above, is of truly inestimable value for a first-time yacht owner such as PBO’s Ali Wood, who ignored it.

Instead she acquired a Maxi 84 which, by the looks of it, did at least have thriving herbaceous borders, now sadly uprooted with a pressure washer, eradicating the previous owner’s commendable re-wilding efforts and destroying the eco-system of rare lichens that bugs and wotnot – not to mention humanity itself – rely upon.

Global warming apart, which I suppose will just make more water to sail on, Ali has nevertheless learned the first lesson of boat ownership, because the best advice is to ignore advice, never more so than in boatyard habitats, which are notorious for it.

Witness this sad and salutary tale of a chap in our boatyard who was found wandering around with a pair of dividers in his hand and that puzzled and lost look on his face which is so often associated with wielding dividers.

This though was more than the customary confusion, for his dividers weren’t dividing smoothly and had an annoying squeak, which precluded any possibility of going sailing.

“Aah, divider problem is it? Been there, seen it, done it,” said the first boatyard sage, adding: “What you need is a fibre washer.

“They’re not easy to come by but I can sell you my last one. Hang on two ticks, it’s in the back of my car.”

As he sauntered over to his Bentley, a salt-of-the-earth type with a battered white van intervened and said: “I wouldn’t listen to Kenny, he’s always on the make.

“What you need is a stainless-steel washer.

“I’ll give one for nothing.”

“Well, that’s all well and good, but it’ll cost you more in the long run,” said someone who knew even more,

“because you’ll have to fit an anode to your dividers to prevent de-zincification when your dividers come into contact with the water on your chart.

“What you need is nylon.”

The small crowd that had formed dismissed that as nonsense, and after a to-and-fro about the pros and cons of buying or making an anode, and recouping one-fifth of the cost by submitting an article to PBO, no-nonsense Ron said: “You’re all overcomplicating it.

“All’s the poor fella needs is a drop of three-in-one oil.”

But it wasn’t as simple as that, because it turns out three-in-one traps grit which will abrade the mating surfaces and cause slack, leading to navigational errors, which will ultimately lead to death.

No, WD40 was the way to go, suggested someone who really knew what they were talking about.

At least that’s what I thought until someone who knew more said: “That way madness lies. It’s a job for silicon spray.”

Round about then a Sailfish owner with an enquiring mind and thirst for knowledge said: “What are dividers anyway? They look like sugar tongs,” and everyone said “shut up, Dave.”

I thought we’d finally cracked it when a friendly engineer, who was a lot less miserable than they usually are, offered to machine the mating surfaces to a tolerance of three mil – as a rush job some time within the next six months.

Then a lawyer, who owns a nearly new Halberg-Rassy that formerly belonged to a client now doing a ten-year stretch, finally brought some clarity to the situation by suggesting suing, but didn’t say whom, or for what.

At that the squeaky divider owner threw them to the ground and blurted: “Sod it, I don’t need them anyway, I’m selling my bloody yacht.”

The Bentley owner picked the dividers up, and later that day bought a yacht to go with the dividers – at a give-away price.

The lawyer drew up the contract.

And that was how I discovered what dividers are for.

As with everything to do with boats, they exist to divide opinion.

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This feature appeared in the January 2022 edition of Practical Boat Owner. For more articles like this, including DIY, money-saving advice, great boat projects, expert tips and ways to improve your boat’s performance, take out a magazine subscription to Britain’s best-selling boating magazine.

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