Cost is the real bar­rier to sail­ing

Yachting Monthly - - LETTERS -

Your ar­ti­cles ‘The Fu­ture of UK Sail­ing’ and ‘In­stant Sail­ing’ (YM, Oc­to­ber 2018) prompt me to write: the first is full of in­for­ma­tion but misses the point; and the sec­ond is just not go­ing to hap­pen.

When I started sail­ing things were much sim­pler and cheaper. A low-tech tra­di­tional yacht could be main­tained cheaply, and mud berths and half-tide moor­ings were cheap. Equip­ment was ba­sic: a chart, com­pass and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of what the tide and weather were do­ing, and off we went, sail­ing from the So­lent to the Chan­nel Is­lands with no prob­lems. In­deed, Joshua Slocum went around the world in a sim­i­lar fash­ion.

I started in dinghies and saw off­shore sail­ing as a camp­ing-style ad­ven­ture. Nowa­days it’s far more so­phis­ti­cated, and thereby lies part of the prob­lem.

If I were start­ing now, it all looks very daunt­ing and pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive. Your mag­a­zine is bristling with ad­verts for ev­ery gadget and gizmo and the un­in­tended im­pres­sion is that peo­ple need th­ese things.

It is also ex­pen­sive to own a boat. Ma­rina fees are ex­pen­sive, and I don’t think it’s nec­es­sar­ily down to prof­it­mak­ing. Th­ese busi­nesses have to com­ply with rules and reg­u­la­tions. Noth­ing is cheap. Then there is the main­te­nance, in­sur­ance, up­grad­ing and re­plac­ing equip­ment. Sail­ing is an ex­pen­sive hobby and there is a big­ger di­vide now in this coun­try be­tween those who have money to spare and those who don’t.

It has al­ways been the case that most boats are barely used. This was the driver in set­ting up Boat Bud­dys (www.boat­bud­dys.co.uk). This is the kind of ini­tia­tive that YM should sup­port as it pro­vides a route for po­ten­tial sailors to get started.

To get peo­ple into sail­ing we first need to get them into boats and that is where the non-profit Boat Bud­dys has been help­ing, un­aided, for years.

Pete Jones

Lower prices would tempt peo­ple to take up sail­ing

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