A streak of the antisocial... the editor's welcome to the latest issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine

A friend of mine recently observed that, after just over 50 years living on this blue-green marble we call Earth, he had discovered that he didn’t like people.

Not specific people, you understand – just people in general. This realisation, he said, had helped him enormously in his doings with others, as anyone he met would need to graduate from a default position of dislike before they could have any serious expectations of him.

As we were just broaching our third bottle of Muscadet, I concluded that I must have made the grade and felt vaguely flattered.

While his position might be regarded as extreme, I know where he’s coming from.

Sailors, cruising sailors in particular, tend to have a streak of the antisocial.

We’re happy to chat in clubs and pubs, we’ll share a yarn with a fellow boat owner after a day’s sailing, but the underlying yen is to sail off into the sunset, free from a world beset by political, social and economic disasters over which we individually have little control.

I am by no means an exception to this. A short sail east from our home port of Poole lies the Solent, one of the best cruising grounds a coastal sailor’s heart could wish for. The water is often flattish and creeks and anchorages abound, allowing for an interesting cruise whatever the weather.

Perfect in principle, but I hardly ever go there because there are so many other boats. Instead, we head west, where the coves and anchorages of the Jurassic coast offer a chance of magical seclusion.

All of which makes me wonder why every year, in company with thousands of other sailors, I make the pilgrimage to Cowes to spend a day sailing a 50-mile circuit around the Isle of Wight in the Round the Island race.

The start and finish are always a miserable, dread-inspiring melée, the leg to the finish against the tide can seem interminable, and Cowes is filled beyond capacity with people and boats.

It’s the kind of thing that I would normally go a long way to avoid, but instead keep coming back, year after year.

This year, the weather gods were kind to us, with a north-westerly removing the usual beat to the Needles and giving us a pleasant if gentle downwind sail along the south side of the island.

As we sailed, my brother waged psychological warfare on nearby boats by cooking bacon sandwiches, which left us well fortified for the final beat. Even this last was better than expected, as a southerly shift gave us a good making tack to the finish.

We didn’t hit anything, we placed reasonably well, and felt a sense of achievement. All of which is probably just enough to make us do it again next year.

Madness, utter madness – but then so is boat ownership if you look too closely. Perhaps the race fulfils a need to prove oneself, to stand up and be counted – just enough to justify being antisocial for the rest of the season.

Fair winds,
David Pugh

David Pugh, PBO editor

David Pugh, PBO editor

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Here’s a full list of the August 2017 issue’s contents

Helicopter rescue: What to do, step-by-step

Rig tuning for cruisers: Top tips for safe and efficient sailing

View from the boatyard: Retrofitting a bow thruster

Using DSC radio: Does DSC have more uses than merely making a Mayday call?

Repairing a Morse control: A ‘sealed for life’ unit proves no barrier to home maintenance

Converting a ketch into a schooner: A change of rig for reader Roger Hughes’ Down East 45

Patagonian cruise of a lifetime: Sun and snow in South America

PBO Tested – Emergency VHF antennas: Which one delivers the strongest and clearest signal?

PBO Tested – Combination padlocks: Do the numbers add up to keep your boat secure?

The boat designs of Alan Buchanan: Aesthetically pleasing, perfectly balanced boats

PBO Project Boat 2 – Bottoms up: Adding bottom stringers, bevelled chine battens and forefoot cheek pieces to our Secret 20

Exploring Teignmouth: A charming Devon harbour with sheltered beaches

PBO Boat Tests – Seascape 24 & 27: Is a planing cruiser really practical?

Megaohm’s maiden voyage: A reader’s 400-mile delivery trip in a newly-bought Trapper 500

The Kiel Canal: Not just for transiting…

Finding patents: A valuable source of otherwise unavailable information

Troubleshooting a tiller pilot: PLUS more reader projects and tips

Build an Irish proa: A small, stable craft suitable for solo motor-cruising

Dealing with a riding turn: 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: http://emails.timeincuk.co.uk/YBW_webcross

‘Mad about the Boat’ columnist Dave Selby: ‘The cup that cheers’

Columnist Sam Llewellyn: A good idea on paper

Monthly musings from Andrew Simpson: Something wicked this way comes

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

New regular chandlery offers

News: Restored project boat sinks within minutes of first launch… plus more

Regional news: Dry-blasting ban… and more

New regular chandlery offers

Readers’ letters: Your views

Ask the experts: The weighty topic of Hunter Delta lifting keels… and more

New gear: PBO looks at the latest marine products