My first experience of sailing was on 505 dinghies in South African inland waters when I was seventeen. We entered many competitions and even did some offshore racing. Once in Durban we all had our spinnakers up and a gale came from nowhere and almost the whole fleet was rolled over, damaging many masts and boats. This didn't deter me and I still loved being on the ocean. Then I met someone who needed a captain for his 50-ton fishing boat. I did the necessary courses and skippered his boat on many weekends, also helping him maintain it.
Later I got my own small fishing boat and had many adventures with it. We had to launch from the beach in Durban and I have a sequence of photos showing us launching into a twenty-five foot back line.
For a while we moved inland but the ocean was calling and my family and I moved to Cape Town. It was there that we made the momentous decision to buy a cruising sailboat, a 37' catamaran that had only been partially completed internally. I set about making her seaworthy and learnt a lot very quickly. We even had a lightning strike and I had a quick lesson in AC and DC electricity when I had to re-wire the boat. I fitted all the electronic equipment. I did the plumbing, fitting all the seacocks, two new heads and fresh and salt-water hoses and faucets.
My family and I set sail from South Africa in 2001. This first offshore voyage to St Helena took 18 days and we were very happy to find the tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We sailed on to Brazil and the Caribbean. We really enjoyed life on the boat but after a few years made the decision to sell her and went to live in England.
We bought another catamaran in 2007 and this one needed a complete refit. What a sucker for punishment! I replaced the engine and stern drive myself. I replaced all the windows and hatches. I did the carpentry, replacing bulkheads, fitting doors and converting part of the saloon into a double cabin with lots of storage. I insulated the boat with a two-part spray-on high-density foam and fitted head lining throughout. I redid all the electrics, fitted the electronics and solar panels and two wind generators. I also did the plumbing and propane fitting.
Finally she was ready and we sailed from England in 2014 across the Atlantic to Antigua via Madeira and Gran Canaria. We spent time revisiting the Caribbean before arriving in the USA a year later. Sailing and boats are a way of life for me. This fits well with another one of my hobbies, fishing. If I'm not working on a boat I’m fishing from one!