Dom Joly: A sailor's life for me – as long as I have a permit

 

Share
Related Topics

I've suddenly found myself thinking more and more about getting a boat. Obviously this is a sign of an impending mid-life crisis, but there seems to be very little that I can do to prevent these feelings. I've tried having long cold showers and not thinking about boats, but they just kept popping up. It's all out of control. Then a friend rang me up out of the blue and asked me to go sailing with him in his new boat. I've never really been into sailing. I love the whole aesthetic but the reality always seems a tad too much like hard work for me. I just want an engine, some sun, a lovely place to anchor up, and I'm happy. I don't want to be washing down decks or frigging in the rigging.

So, it was with some trepidation that I arrived at the marina in Gosport, where his new boat was kept. It is a huge catamaran, and first impressions were good. There was a lot of living space, a fridge dedicated entirely to alcohol, and a nautical type man who seemed to have been employed to do all the technical, sailing things so we could enjoy a leisurely day out on the Solent. We set off past rows and rows of boats with awful names like Don't Tell the Wife or Breaking the Bank and joined a line of multi-sized vessels heading out towards the Isle of Wight.

Once clear of shore, the engines were turned off, and the huge sails unfurled by rather complicated machinery. The silence was wonderful as we whizzed over the calm sea, the reflections of the unexpected sun beaming back on our contented faces. I wondered whether sailing might be the sort of thing you appreciate more as you get older, like wine? We zipped around aimlessly, occasionally "tacking" while trying not to get run over by the monster ferries that ploughed through these narrow waters towards us at frightening speed.

All your worldly cares disappear in a boat – it's a bit like being in the shops after passport control at an airport. You are in a kind of weird limbo and feel very irresponsible. This is probably not the case if you actually own a boat. As a guest on somebody else's however, it was very pleasant. We headed for Chichester Harbour where we were going to anchor off West Wittering and have some lunch. The sun sparkled and we could see people wandering along the golden beaches. It was a very rare autumn scene.

We dropped anchor in the shallow bay and had a very good lunch making full use of the alcohol fridge. Our appetites sated, we all dived into the cool sea attempting to swim against the strong current but having to use a string of buoys attached to the rear to keep us from heading off towards France. I climbed to the top of the cat and did something I've only ever seen in Duran Duran videos – I swung out over the sea on a rope attached to the top of the mast. It was exhilarating, but I quickly found myself swinging back towards the hull at quite some speed, so I let go to avoid both hitting, and sinking, my friend's new pride and joy.

Refreshed, we sat on the deck ruminating on how wonderful it was to get away from it all. Our idyll was soon disturbed however by a noisy rib pulling up alongside us with a couple of harbour masters demanding payment for our having anchored in their bay. Like traffic wardens, they printed out a little permit before motoring off to annoy the next boat. It seems that you're not safe from the claws of money-grasping bureaucracy unless you anchor in international waters with a large cannon attached to your bows. They'll probably start clamping soon.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own