Daniel Kirtley explains why he offered his 28ft Maxi 84 to Practical Boat Owner magazine to become the next PBO Project Boat

Last month, Practical Boat Owner got a surprise email from reader Daniel Kirtley, asking if we wanted his 28ft cruiser Maximus, as a project boat.

“Following a well-trodden path I had two kids and she’s now been out of the water for over two years. I’ve compiled the list of projects needed to bring her up  and it is just too long for me,” he said.

PBO editor Rob Melotti meets boat owner Daniel Kirtley

We went down to the South Coast yard to see Maximus and meet Daniel, a corporate financier and father of two. Here, he explains why he wants his Swedish-built Maxi 84 to go to a new home…

Daniel’s story…

This boat has been fantastic but it’s been far too long since I’ve been on her. My daughter was born in 2018, my son was born last year; there just isn’t the time.

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I bought Maximus when I was 30, for taking friends from Southampton to the Isle of Wight. We’d have a few drinks and sail back the next day. My kids aren’t big enough for a boat like this. I love sailing, I think I’m reasonably good at it, but when they’re that young they can’t look after themselves. I would never take them out in anything strong.

Fun with friends onboard Maximus

Every time I’ve been down with the intention of fixing something, I’ve thought, ‘it’s actually quite a nice day, I could do DIY or I could go out for a sail…’ But I feel it’s the wrong thing to do to let her sink into more disrepair waiting for the time to fix her up again and for when the kids are older. 

How I got into sailing

I got into sailing through an optimist course that my parents put me on. I’d always liked boats as a kid and it was a real thrill being in charge of one. I’ve always wanted to go when I could. I’ve never had an interest in racing, but I liked being on the water and going from A to B.

Tall Ships Race

I did the Tall Ships Race when I was 17. I competed on an Oyster, not a real tall ship, then I got out on deliveries whenever I could. I went from Lymington to Tenerife once on a 42ft Jeanneau. I also sailed up the Irish Sea, and from Hampshire to Maryport in Cumbria. Those trips really helped with my confidence. I enjoyed keeping watches on my own. 

When work takes over

Work soon took over, and though I went on charter boats with friends – to Greece and Croatia – I realised the only way to sail regularly was to buy a boat. I did some research and the advice was, “choose the right boat for you. What are you going to use it for?”

Wooden Twister

I did what everyone does, and I went up to see a guy who owns a Twister, a wooden Twister. It was wonderful. I almost went for that one, but had a real “see the light” moment. It was completely inappropriate; I’d never have had the time for maintenance. 

Why I chose Maximus

I bought Maximus to suit my needs. She has a fin keel and a saildrive for manoeuvrability in harbours. I wanted accommodation – something beamy for friends, but not too big, and with everything coming back to the cockpit so I could sail her singlehanded.


She’s really forgiving. She’s looked after me and has done everything I hoped she would. She’s kept me safe and is relatively low maintenance. I really enjoyed sailing her until three years ago when the kids came along. 

Grace has just turned three and William is one. If I can, I’ll get them into a nice shallow draft open dayboat with a huge amount of space to go cruising around the harbour, nudge up on the beach and have a picnic.

The decision to give up Maximus is a time-of-life thing. You need the best part of a day to get the most out of her. I was in banking for 10 years, working very long hours. The weekends were sacred. Even now, I work in corporate finance. I sell people’s businesses for them. It’s intense and project-based and it doesn’t allow enough time for going out for the day on a cruising boat. 

I don’t think Maximus needs a lot of serious work, but there are a lot of very small projects – getting proper drainage in the gas locker, drawing the keelbolts just to check they’re ok, sorting out the reefing system, fixing the rubbing strake… I like the idea of somebody looking at each project. I think it’s a great thing if, through PBO and all the experts, she can have a really nice renovation. I’ve no second thoughts about offering her to PBO, that’s exactly what I want for her.

About the author

Daniel Kirtley is an active Corporate Finance professional who facilitates business sales, MBOs and raises finance for business owners when they are looking to step back or retire from their companies. He operates through Westgate Advisers


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