This just in: all the nice girls might not love a sailor after all

Sailing has transformed my life, changed my entire worldview… for the worse. To be frank, it’s a disaster, and I blame my Sailfish.

For the fact is that ever since I bought the blasted thing in 2004, women have found me even less attractive.

But I think there’s more to it than that. If you click on the internet you’ll see that it’s mostly full of stuff about why women don’t really like sailing.

Basically, it’s because of men, but the weird thing is that not all men own Sailfishes, so there must also be something even more seriously wrong with the blokes who don’t. I find that encouraging.

Of course, in places like St Tropez and Monaco, where there aren’t any Sailfishes, some women seem to quite like sitting on boats, but I don’t get that either. I mean, why do all the oligarchs’ teak-decked Sunseekers have those little round ‘no entry’ signs with an image of a high-heel shoe? I thought that was the whole point.

Banning people on the basis of footwear seems rather sexist to me, and as I’m a firm believer in gender equality I’ve made a stand.

Whenever I arrive in a marina I hang out a little sign in discreet 8in-high flashing neon letters that says ‘STILETTOS WELCOME’. It hasn’t helped.

Character flaw

All of which forces me to the conclusion that women think a Sailfish 18 is a character flaw.

I’ll give you an example. I’d just completed the first 100-mile leg of Marlin’s Mission and Marlin was bobbing contentedly in Limehouse Basin, berthed in the heart of fashionable East London for the modest sum of £21 a night. Life on a Sailfish doesn’t get much better than this, I thought, considering a hotel with a view of the Thames would have cost £100 more.

And with all that money I’d saved I decided to really push the boat out and take a very nice lady person out for dinner.

We ate well, chinked glasses and clicked too, as we gazed into one another’s eyes in the seductive candlelight of a smart Italian restaurant.

It turned out to be a complete waste of money. It was all going well until I invited her back for a coffee-style drink on my ‘yacht’. As I stepped aboard I gallantly offered my hand as Marlin politely curtsied in greeting, a little too enthusiastically as it turns out, putting her gunwales under and smashing all the crockery below.

With a look of combined horror, outrage and contempt, which is a difficult facial expression even for a woman, she fumed: ‘I thought you had a yacht. I suppose you lied about your age as well.’ That was the last I saw of her.

Frankly, on this score Marlin’s Mission was proving a bit of a flop. It seems women in Kent or Sussex, if there are any, keep away from the coast because it has boats on it. But I thought my luck had changed in Hampshire.

I’d left Marlin in the Hamble and on my way back to her I needed somewhere to stop overnight, so I phoned my mate John, who runs Team Sailing, which is inarguably the best sailing school in the entire world.

John told me to help myself to his Bavaria 38 on pontoon G in Haslar Marina. And as I walked along the pontoon in the dark, I spotted the boat with its companionway open and a welcoming soft glow of light from below. It’s this kind of thoughtfulness that makes Team Sailing the premier yachting outfit in the galaxy.

Face to face

I hopped on board, jumped below and came face to face with a tall, slender lady person in a dressing gown. I’m not sure who was more shocked: well, actually I am.

I explained that John had said I could stay on his boat, and she said that’s what he’d told her too. We got to talking and drinking tea, and we kinda got along. Her name, it turns out, is Alex, which I found pretty odd: not her name, more the fact that she actually let me know it.

I mentioned my ‘yacht’ without being too specific, and Alex in turn told me about her 10m steel yacht and 50ft motor barge, which I have to say are two things I find very attractive in a woman.

In the morning I phoned John and said: ‘John, thanks mate, I think I’m in love.’

‘What you on about?’ John asked.

‘Thanks for setting me up with my new future ex,’ I said.

‘What?’ John said.

‘Alex, she’s lovely.’



‘Dave,’ he said, ‘you got on the wrong boat!’

Well, how was I to know Team Sailing had two Bavaria 38s side by side!

Months passed. Leaves fell out of the trees. Alex found out about the Sailfish. It turns out the Sailfish isn’t the problem.

I’m confused.