50 years old, and still aspirational. Editor David Pugh welcomes you to the latest issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine.

Depending on who you ask, 50 years old represents the prime of life.

It’s certainly a popular belief here at PBO: half the staff are around that age and, more to the point, 2017 is the magazine’s 50th anniversary.

Not for us the doddering centenarian past of Yachting Monthly and Yachting World, which began in an Edwardian England firmly ruled by a class system in which yachting was for the rich; Practical Boat Owner is rooted in a more
modern era when everyone can aspire to own a boat, however small.

Sentimental tosh, I hear you say. Maybe so, but in a sense it’s true that PBO is a reflection of the modern sailing world.

pbo-issue-oneIn the ’60’s, mass-produced GRP boats brought cruising within the grasp of many who had previously only been able to aspire to a dinghy at most. New boatyards sprang up across the country, many run by people with more experience
of plastics than boats, and new clubs appeared to support them.

New designers came to the fore to design these new boats, and as electronics became cheaper and more widespread, navigation became easier too.

Denny Desoutter’s idea for a magazine aimed squarely at the everyday boat owner filled a gaping niche in the market,
catering for those whose budgets have limits and who find pleasure in the whole experience of boat ownership, not just the sailing.

He was right then, and 50 years later we’re still here.

I’ve mentioned this before, but rather than go on about PBO’s birthday we’ve decided to celebrate marine products or
organisations which have their 50th this year, or a year or so either way. Some of you have been in touch already, and on page 87 of the latest issue you’ll find a brief history of Lowestoft Cruising Club, who celebrated their anniversary in 2016 and which we visited back in August to test the Hebridean windvane (also in this edition).

If you have a club, design or event celebrating its 50th birthday, please email us at pbo@timeinc.com and let us know. We’ll be mentioning as many as possible in our May issue, out for our Ask the Experts Live! event at Beaulieu Boatjumble – which we’re also trying to make a extra-special this year.

In our news pages this month, you’ll note that the British Coatings Federation is once again calling on boat owners to observe correct PPE precautions when scraping and applying antifouling. They have a point worth heeding – if the powers that be deem that DIY users cannot be trusted to use biocidal products responsibly, many of them may be withdrawn from general sale and labelled for professional use only.

While I have some sympathy with those that believe that it’s a person’s right to kill oneself in whichever manner one sees fit, history has shown that principles of personal freedom cut no ice with bureaucrats.

For that reason (as well as a wish to live to a ripe old age), I’ll be donning the mask and gloves when the time comes, and would urge you to do the same.

Regular readers will be aware of Pat Manley’s sad passing in September. A stalwart of PBO, he kept answering queries
for our Ask the Experts section almost until the end, and has helped countless readers with their engine problems. It’s been a tough task to find someone with a similarly independent attitude and broad knowledge of marine machinery, but I think we’ve found such a man: this month we’re welcoming Stu Davies to our Experts panel.

Stu has been a regular contributor to PBO and the PBO forum, and is well known as a practical man who is not afraid
to speak his mind: just what we need!

Happy New Year and all the best for 2017.

Fair winds,
David Pugh

David Pugh, PBO editor

David Pugh, PBO editor

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


Easy tweaks to a budget boat: Expert tips for sails and rigging

PBO Project Boat 2 – Fitting the transom and final frames: Work continues apace on PBO’s Secret 20 kit boat

PBO Tested – Hebridean windvane: Make it yourself, then fit it. PBO tries out a DIY self-steerer

Low-cost sail through the French canals: 1,332km through French waterways on a restored £400 Pandora

PBO Boat Test – Hanse 415: …on a Croatian charter cruise

PBO Tested -Tools for tight spaces: Ideal implements for confined conditions

Harrison Butler designs: The ‘well balanced and sweet handling’ boat designs of Thomas Harrison Butler

Build a sailing dinghy: Part three – fitting out and rigging

Marinise a diesel: Convert a car engine and save a fortune

On board in a barge race: Match racing on board a Thames barge

Charts or buoyage: Which should you trust?

Bear away, eventually: A reader’s haphazard shakedown sail in Lazy Bear, a newly-purchased 25ft Cobra

London Boat Show preview: What to look out for at ExCel

Fitting a SonarPhone: A ‘virtual’ depth sounder and fishfinder

Fix a rusty mast step: How to forestall the risk of mast step truss failure

Make a wireless remote control for an autopilot: PLUS more reader projects and tips

How to stop rolling at anchor: Hints and tips from the PBO Sketchbook

Anchorages in upper Loch Fyne: Favourite areas for dropping the hook in a beautiful sea loch on Scotland’s west coast


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 thin end of the wedge

Columnist Sam Llewellyn: In search of a restful rig

Monthly musings from Andrew Simpson: Anxiety is a drag

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

News: DIY Safe Antifouling Initiative 2017 launches, World Sailors of the Year named… and more

Regional news: Yacht and container ship collide, Golden Globe preparations… and more

Readers’ letters: Your views

Ask the experts: Whether to replace sails (and the mast), and more reader queries answered

New gear: PBO looks at the latest marine products

Pat Manley

Pat Manley tribute

Pat Manley, a long-time contributor to PBO and who regularly featured in our Ask the Experts pages, passed away on…

Ask the PBO experts

Ask the PBO experts

Q: I have a Bénéteau 35s5 that produces a lot of vibration and rumbling when motoring...