I had plenty of time to reflect on single-handed sailing during the week away. I passed many yachts, some with large sociable crews, more with large racing crews. They are the norm. So what about single-handed? Is it about sailing from A to B with no crew or is it something else – sailing for the sake of it, a little of which can be illustrated on camera but most of which remains in the mind of the sailor? The following records a few moments on the passage back from Dartmouth to Plymouth on that Friday evening.
How would you spend all day in a space about six feet across from back rest to back rest, and approximately ten foot long with no headroom to stand upright?
On the Monday, I set off early towards Salcombe planning to get to Bolt Head before the tide turned against me. There was no wind so, under motor, a chance to note the effect of the tide and the surface of the sea. Thus . . .
Ever curious, I have been asking myself about single-handed sailing and why I enjoy it so much. The fact that I am reflecting on this at all is a clue in itself. I will enlarge on this later.
What brought this on was the image below of a diminutive Blue Mistress moored among a sociable fleet of smart yachts in Salcombe and the acknowledgement that this is not a suitable haunt for the sailor who seeks solitude.
I’ve been away for a while – first a week on the boat then a trip to London for a ’45-year’ reunion. In the latter we met up as fellow students, still recognisable as the young people we used to be – (well . . . some more, some less)! It was fun. But the London of today is not the same as it was 45 years ago. Our dental hospital was in Leicester Square and we could walk across the square without having to push through crowds of tourists. Not that I wish to turn the clock back – tourists are good for the capital, but I want to record this enormous increase in population and to contrast it with the single-handed sailing I enjoyed a few days before.
When I was a dentist, I took photographs all the time – mostly macro settings of small objects and areas. These were essential records of what I was seeing.
In my private life, my photographs have also been records – records of places, people and details. My family will tell you somewhat wearily, “He takes photographs of boats mostly!”
We were invited to visit Knightshayes accompanied by the former head gardener who had been involved in designing and planting the gardens for over forty years from the early sixties. He was talking about the trees he had planted from seed, about the garden and woods from before the garden and woods were there, about the way they had collected trees and plants, about why they had put them here . . . or there.