Thanks to the internet, one can come into contact with the most amazing characters who like me mess about in boats. I have often mentioned Roger Barnes who has quite a high profile on Facebook and is an architect by profession. He sold his yacht to devote his sailing passion to small open boats.
I came across an original type of boat (which I will discuss below) and it has been promoted by a friendly looking gentleman by the name of Dylan Winter, who lives near London and in his old twenty-six foot Centaur twin keel yacht. He is sailing around the UK is stages, because he still has to work. An engineer by profession, he has worked as a journalist and now makes short videos of his sailing and a modest living from the internet. I admire his English eccentricity, ingenuity and inventiveness. One of his inventions is a simple and cheap way to heat a small room in the winter using tea lamps (like the little votive lights we use in churches) which you can buy very cheaply at your local supermarket – and two concentric flower pots. The inside flower pot absorbs the heat from the flames and converts it into convected energy. The outside flower pot also absorbs energy and prevents it from being dissipated too quickly. I’ll give it a try. I might not have to wait until winter given this awful weather we are now suffering in Europe!
Mr Winter runs a blog called Keep Turning Left, from his desire to circumnavigate the British Isles anti-clockwise, following the coastline. I mentioned above a “different” type of boat. It is called the Duck Punt, basically a sailing canoe which can be built in as little as one week by an amateur with a minimum of woodworking experience – and very cheaply. The Duck Punt uses the sail and sprit rig of the famous children’s dinghy the Optimist. It is steered with an oar instead of a fixed rudder and has no need of a centreboard. It is not a sea boat and does badly in waves. On the other hand, it can sail on no more than four inches of depth and is excellent in calm conditions on rivers. It can be rowed and paddled, and can be hauled out of the water up a steep bank, put on a portable trolley with wheels and re-launched the other side of a lock (most lock keepers don’t allow boats without an engine). I am fascinated and have decided to make one myself.
Naturally, I will keep Sarum (a tough sea boat) and Sophia (a good beach launcher). I am open to ideas for the name of my future Duck Punt.
He and I are almost the same age, like Roger Barnes, and I discern a philosophy of life that pleases me: being himself, finding solutions for every problem, refusing to give up in any difficulty – and knowing that money isn’t everything. Perhaps we might sail together in Duck Punts over some flooded meadow in January – Brrrrr! I think I would feel guilty about having fun sailing where people have suffered adversity from floods – but a field out in the country that becomes an enormous lake could be fun. If the boat capsizes, you just step out with your wellies on, bail the boat out and get back in.
Perspectives in view, and who knows – Mr Winter and I might meet up one day.