Nick Burnham: “When the half century rolls around there’s only one thing for it – good friends, good boats and a party!”
Should a hurricane not leave you for dead, it will make you stronger. Don’t try to explain it, just nod your head, breathe in, breathe out, move on...
It’s a Sunday afternoon, a significant birthday weekend, and I’m alone aboard Smuggler’s Blues 2 in the marina, just enjoying being afloat, listening to Jimmy Buffett, reading a book and feeling at peace with the world. I came across Jimmy’s music on a trip to the States a few years ago and I adore it. A keen sailor, his lyrics speak of life, love and boating. I nearly named the boat after his song Bama Breeze.
I’d recently had cause to breathe in, breathe out and move on, after being unceremoniously dumped via text message by a lady I thought might have actually been The One. That and the eve of a very significant birthday could easily give rise to melancholy thoughts, but somehow being on my boat, feeling the gentle motion of a billion tonnes of water, massages such feelings away. Instead, I was counting my blessings.
Firstly there’s the boat itself of course. Just thinking about it gladdens the heart – being aboard multiplies that feeling by 1,000. But it’s not just what you’ve got, it’s how you use it.
The previous day I’d slipped out of Torquay Harbour aboard Smuggler’s with my friend Adrian at about midday, following two other friends, Greg and Sally, aboard their Rinker Seagull 3. It was a short trip to Fishcombe Cove, where more friends were waiting. We picked up a mooring buoy and Seagull 3 eased alongside, rafting up with Duncan and Dawn outside of them aboard their recently purchased Maxum 2000SCL, named Double D. John Bung-gate Sheppard’s Sea Ray 215EC took position along Smuggler’s port flank, two Cranchi Turchese 24s belonging to Anthony (who’d brought his down from Swindon) and Gervais outside of him. There we spent the afternoon – one big hilarious island.
At 5pm we upped sticks for a cruise back to Torquay for the main event, the five faster boats looping and busting through our wash. The venue had been another friend Neil’s idea as we’d sat aboard Smuggler’s one afternoon. I’d wanted a party location close to the harbour and was explaining how my initial plans for an 80ft charter boat had fallen on stony ground. ‘How about Royal Torbay Yacht Club?’ he’d suggested.
Two days later I’d spoke to the manager and he’d shown me around. It was perfect, a room with a bar we could use if the weather was unkind and a fabulous terraced garden with far-reaching views across the bay if it wasn’t. I’d booked it on the spot. At 7pm people started arriving, friends and family, many of the former made through a mutual love of boating. It was fantastic, great company, great food, great location and a great way to celebrate half a century on Planet Earth.
Afterwards, a few of us retreated to the cockpit of my boat, chatting and drinking into the early hours of Sunday, with Jimmy Buffett on the stereo. That night I slept aboard, the perfect end to the perfect day, reassured by Jimmy’s wise words on the subject: I’m just hangin’ on while this old world keeps spinning, and it’s good to know it’s out of my control. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this livin’, is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go...