Dave Selby finds out how much work he has to do to prepare his Sailfish 18 Marlin for their forthcoming 300-mile voyage

I’m excited and scared, embarrassed and ashamed, writes Dave Selby.

Those were just some of the emotional impulses triggered by my visit to Maldon Yacht Club to exhume Marlin, my Sailfish 18, from winter storage in preparation for Marlin’s Mission.

You may have read by now that what I’m planning for me and my Sailfish amounts to an epic voyage, from Maldon on the Blackwater in Essex and round the coast to Southampton to be part of the Southampton Boat Show in September.

I got the initial idea about four years ago, and it’s just now that everything’s fallen into place.

Basically, I want to share with others all that sailing has given me and really get the message out there that cost is no barrier to getting afloat. For years, I dreamed of going sailing in my own boat, but when I went to boat shows and saw all those new boats I imagined it was beyond me, and it would never happen.

Dave Selby's Sailfish

Dave Selby’s Sailfish 18 Marlin

Slowly, as I got intoxicated by sailing and started reading PBO I began to learn a bit and tap into the endlessly rich seam of small second-hand cruisers I dreamed of owning. I started visiting boatyards and each time I came across a boat with potential I used the great PBO copy service to get hold of a review.

I had some false starts and turned up some blind alleys, until I cam across a Sailfish in Woodbridge, Suffolk. When I read David Harding’s review I decided to go for it, and I became a boat owner in 2004.

It’s opened up my world, and wrecked my dress sense – which doesn’t really say much. Yet, it’s given me great adventures and I’m always coming across people who love the idea of sailing, but think it’s too expensive. It isn’t. A small boat will cost way less than one family holiday and open up a life-time of adventure.

That’s my message. I told editor David Pugh about my scheme, and in January dragged him along to the London International Boat Show for a meeting with boat show organisers British Marine. And they said yes!

Marlin is going to be on show at the Southampton International Boat Show. The aim is to build traction along the way to get more people involved in sailing. Once at the show we’ll be hosting talks aimed at explaining everything you need to know to buy your first boat and get on the water. For existing boat owners, with PBO’s help, we’ll be mounting a whole load of practical demonstrations.

Dave Selby

But there’s more to it than that. I have a rare viral condition called CIDP. It’s related to Guillain-Barré syndrome and it means every five weeks I go into hospital to get pumped up with miracle antibodies that literally give me legs for a good four weeks.

When something like that happens it changes you. On the one hand it’s made me determined to seize the moment whenever I can, so my illness has been a major impetus behind my adventure. I’m also humbled by all the help I’ve received and I want to use Marlin’s Mission to raise money for the charity (www.gaincharity.org.uk) that supports those with this rare condition. Look out for news of the justgiving page.

There’s more, but that’s for another time. In the mean time, like many boat owners I’d neglected Marlin over the winter, other than to occasionally pop down the club to bail out the cock-pit after the winter cover shredded. That’s why I’m embarrassed and ashamed. In the video you’ll see the state that Marlin’s in. Actually, she’s not as bad as I feared. In upcoming blogs I’ll be covering preparations and, you can be sure, calling on the expertise of PBO readers for advice, guidance and support.

Marlin’s Mission has begun. Still scared, but more excited than scared.