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Boating stories to celebrate 20 years of YBW please.


Well-known member
3 Jul 2002
Farnham, Surrey
Stef, the YBW editor, has written to me asking if I can encourage Forum members to think of stories that could be used to celebrate 20 years of YBW Forums.

Here's an extract from her email to me:

We would like to ask our forum users to share some of their most cherished boaty stories of the last 20 years with us, to appear on YBW.

The best way for them to get in touch with their stories is to email us at: ybwdotcom@gmail.com.
That's all the details I have so get your thinking caps on and find some links or write up some stories?

Many thanks



YBW Editor
9 Sep 2015
Hi everybody (and thank you John!),

We would for all of you to help us celebrate YBW's 20 year milestone. We'd love to hear your boaty stories of the last two decades. Maybe you went sailing solo for the first time, or bought your first boat, or maybe you got married on one? Share your most cherished stories with us and we'll post them on YBW. If you want to find out more please take a look at: http://www.ybw.com/news-from-yachting-boating-world/ybw-20-anniversary-56723. Hope to hear from you soon and to see you at the Southampton Boat Show for our birthday celebrations. Thank you, Stef


Well-known member
15 Feb 2005
Several stories spring to mind from the East Coast forum - not least the regular trips to Oostende, the forum meet-ups, the designing of the ECF flag / pennant / burgee, traditions that have built up around, for example, Christmas quizzes, Pirates' weekend; man overboard weekends;
Many of these are not mine to tell but the protaganists know the details and will surely email in...
Jim, Clive, Sailorman, Roger (other Roger)! ????

Capt Popeye

Well-known member
30 Sep 2011
Dawlish South Devon
Several stories spring to mind from the East Coast forum - not least the regular trips to Oostende, the forum meet-ups, the designing of the ECF flag / pennant / burgee, traditions that have built up around, for example, Christmas quizzes, Pirates' weekend; man overboard weekends;
Many of these are not mine to tell but the protaganists know the details and will surely email in...
Jim, Clive, Sailorman, Roger (other Roger)! ????
Humm might I ask kind Sir if you left out the Deben Bar stories and anecdotes to make your list the more interesting, maybe ? {:)#


Well-known member
19 Dec 2001
St Neots
Not to forget Mirabella V with TCM & Tome among others ;-)


New member
22 Mar 2011
Our first attempt to get across the channel from Ipswich in company with some friends who got a fishing net wrapped around their propeller just as we entered the first TSS!

Our first trip out in bad weather in the original Mariadz (a DuFour 455)

And somewhat less spectacular but hopefully equally entertaining, this years trip to the North Kent coast, where we temporarily became a dredger!


Well-known member
5 Nov 2002
West Mersea
Wot? As recent as 20 years!

Wot about:

Revolutionary new ‘Timbre’ will transform Yacht Construction

Breakthrough with Biochemical fusion opens startling eco-friendly possibilities

A new material is now on the market for yacht builders which is set to revolutionise the glassfibre yacht construction industry and, at the same time, preserve our rapidly dwindling tropical rain forests.

This new material, which as been named ‘Timbre’ by its inventor is, in brief, a living fusion between wood and epoxy resins. The result is a material which has all the benefits of timber but none of the drawbacks: all of the benefits of resins but none of the problems. It has been shown to have all of the qualities necessary to reduce building costs whilst providing a robust, attractive and enduring finish."

....... etc etc


YBW Editor
9 Sep 2015
Hi all,

Could those who'd like to share their stories email them to me at ybwdotcom@gmail.com please? We'd like to share your stories on YBW in your own words. Thank you all and happy Friday!


Active member
23 Jul 2006
Emsworth Hants
Crossing Biscay:
On Friday the 4th 2004, about 8am, I woke Mike to report that the wind had been building steadily for some hours and was now 25 knots. Since it seemed likely the wind would keep building we decided to drop the main sail and continue reaching under mizzen and genoa. It was the correct decision as we had apparent wind speeds of 35 knots gusting 50 knots and big seas - brilliant sailing to start with, in bright sunshine under blue skies, but becoming ever more tiring. The winds continued through the day and night finally easing around 5am on the 5th. During the strong winds a cat hove to using both engines, a ketch ran off towing drogues and sadly local fishing boat was lost with all hands.

This was the first period of sustained strong winds we have sailed Kelly's Eye in and she behaved impeccably. With the wind vane driving, she just ploughed on, taking the odd wave over her - one of which curled over the boat and drenched me. Our problems were holding on and sleeping. The only damage suffered was a plate that decided to take flying lessons and failed.

The only drama we had during this period had nothing to do with the weather but happened as we crossed the shipping tracks north of Cape Finisterre. Mike was on watch at night and saw a red (port side) light with single white above it - a small ship moving right to left across our bows, but something didn't seem right and he called me up for a second opinion. I knew it was important because I asked if I had time to go to the loo before coming on deck and Mike said "no, get your wet weather gear on and get up here fast please". It was almost impossible to tell which way the ship was going so we had to make Kelly's Eye ready for fast evasive action (we have to take the wind vane down because the mizzen boom would destroy it during a major course change) and start hand steering. Eventually we went round the front of the ship and to our amazement saw that the ship's starboard light was also red (it should be green). Then as it went away from us we saw the stern light was also red and large (it should be white). Quite why a ship should be showing illegal and dangerous lights is beyond us but Mike would have happily killed the skipper.


Well-known member
26 Nov 2002
Royston Vasey


30 Jul 2018
You should be aware that I have been accused of stretching the truth when recounting a tale. I admit there may be some invention here, beyond the change of names... My memory isn't what it was.

Kidnapped by Fairies.

"Come away, oh human child,
to the waters and the wild.
Take a fairy by the hand,
for the world's more full of weeping
than you can understand."

The Rules.

1) Eat or drink nothing within the fey world. Nothing.
2) Take no matter, no thing, from the kind kingdom. No flowers. No jewels. No cloth. Not one stick. Not one pebble. Not one atom. Take only your memories and the wise and kindly tales you hear.

Should you break either rule, you will never return to us. They will not let you go.


3) If you return, and find yourself, in our good green fields again, the shining ones may offer you a gift. It will be dangerous to accept it, and hazardous to refuse. The choice, yours.

... Some time ago ...

It's mid-day. "GO!" ... the first hitch hiking race from Brest to Breda, France to Holland, No rules, First there without cheating wins. I don't remember the year or the meme we gave this race. It was before memes and mobile phones. Before the Internet. Before the "guardian" fell so low. There hasn't been another since.

Cars and lorries sometimes beep as they pass, nobody has managed "first lift" yet bottles of cheap red wine move hand to hand as we wave at passing motorists, who seem confused at all the red-white-and-blue.

More than twenty, we stand a'top a steep incline outside of the town of Brest in Brittany. Mostly British here of course, but with a smattering of Germans and French competing too. The harbour glistens Atlantic blue. It's sweltering this far from the sea, but a breeze wafts ashore cooling us and making the long journey ahead seem possible, even winable!

Bernie and Ellen seem a good bet. He, stands facing the traffic, thumb out. The breeze accentuates his long blonde dreadlocks. Light enhances the many colours of his clothes. She, stands next to him, tall slim and beautiful, guarding his spare hand, and seeing him, as I do. I admit a bromance to myself. Lucky bastards.

A slightly beaten lorry pulls up beside them. Of course, they get "first lift". The driver questions "Holland?" in Scottish tones. They gleam and laugh and enter the cab, off with a wave and a smile and "...only two short stops...". Sadly, it looses them the race, as the driver (who really is going through to Holland), has two short stops. One in Troyes north of Paris (where the shining ones find a field *full* of cannabis (hemp, actually... but that's another story...)) and one in Moscow, Russia! Bernie and Ellen arrive in Breda nearly a week after the last competitor in our race, with stories even I did not believe.

I sigh. Damnit! I wanted to win this race! I watch my friends picked up, one by one, or in two's (the girls traveling in company). Matt is picked up by a red Mercedes heading "a Rennes". I despair making the podium.

I resolve to sleep the day away and hitch at night, solo. I can walk to keep warm, and anyway I'm sure to be the very last picked up in this place, looking at the German girls team. All seemingly lost, I explain my plan, say my goodbyes, and wander off into the thick pines nearby, alone.

I spread my bundle which consists of a blanket (donated by Matt's mum) and my meager possessions, which aren't important, so I shall not list.

I sleep.

In the dream... I am the tortoise, patiently beating the miles, down a long, long road. I am hoping to beat the hare, but from astern, something approaches. I ignore it and continue. I hear a strange noise... the rustling of leaves or shifting of snow? I turn around. The hare, larboard and abeam of me, but not a hare ... an ant! A giant ant, with faceted eyes, gossamer wings and lethal hungry pincers...

I wake with a start, covered in ants! It's late afternoon.

The road seems to go on forever as I stroll East. Individual cars and lorries ignore my thumb. The air is cooling rapidly, Mannon's yellow summer turned indigo and haze. Twilight deepens. Headlights bleach the rows and fields as they pass me by. I am past Rennes now, and about to make the turn, Northeast to Paris.

A white Renault stops next to me, containing driver (in the wrong seat by British eyes) and one of the German chicks from this morning, in the back. Her, I recognise. Him, not so.

It transpires once aboard, comfortable next to Gretta, heading to Paris, that Jack (here pronounced Jacques) is a French homosexual. Odd piece of conversation, I muse, but no problem to me, and I say so.

It further transpires that Gretta intends to cheat the race and drive, flat out, for Breda in Holland, (and the finishing post at the town's neat civic square, underneath the clocktower, every day at mid-day, 'til we all meet again), with one short stop in Paris.

I am a little miffed at this news, but since Bernie and Ellen have probably won already (how could I know their actual route?!) I agree a stopover in Paris is probably in order. It seems to me that, every moment I can waste in Paris is to Bernie's and Ellen's advantage, so I resolve to make a meal of it, and suggest dinner.

It never occurs to me that I, maybe being, "taken for a ride".

Once in Paris, Jack has to retrieve something from his pad. We eventually reach the place, on the fringe of suburbs to the South. This managed, I suggest "just one drink" and we head across the filthy street, into a drab wine bar echoing with french rock and roll.

Later, Jack is pretty drunk (or faking). Gretta, just pretty. She is drinking pints of froth (french beer, I'm told) and we are exchanging stories and jokes. I can keep this up. "More whiskey!"

"Solange mein schwanz nicht sichtbar ist, gehe ich immer noch als mensch." The word 'tail' in German has another low, crude, meaning, making this a dirty joke. As far as I can tell it is the ONLY GERMAN JOKE! It's not lost on Gretta who wipes foam from herself, blushing and scolding. Few German people know the word for 'tail'. They all know what 'schwanz' means, and not to say that word in front of mum!

Laughter is a balm, they say. Her embarrassment over, Gretta wriggles out from the stall, next to me, and heads to powder her nose.

Jack winks, produces something small, and infuses Gretta's drink with it.

I'm shocked, and maybe a little thrilled? at the thought of Gretta, unconscious and beyond resistance. Sadly, I'm British, and this is wrong. I resolve to tell Gretta as soon as she appears. Doubtless this will spoil the evening, but I smile back at Jack, more a grimace, and await Gretta's return.

An inspired accident occurs! washing Gretta's beer across the table. I struggle to get away from the tainted nectar as it drips to the floor. So sorry! I get a cloth from the bar, but should have taken my drink with me.

It's later, in the car, that I realise, I am getting, really, really ... sleepy.

In the dream ... I am on a sailing yacht. She shivers and flexes, cold and frightened, by angel's wings and screaming choir, as we run before the storm. Her rigging hums, her stomach churns, and we crash headlong on a ribbon of canvas, trailing lines and foam. Huge waves pound us from behind. Each time larger and more obscene, they crush me into her cockpit, batter me about. My bottom is on fire with the thrashing and pounding...

I wake with a groan, in Jack's boot, covered head to foot by Matt's mom's blanket, somewhere North of Paris.

I crash about in the darkness hoping to spring the boot lid or break through to the passenger compartment of the car, but I am restrained somewhat by tied ankles and hands behind my back. The blanket seems to be taped to me.

Muffled laughter, Gretta and Jack in the front seats, silences me momentarily, but I can't hear what they are saying and am soon thrashing about again. To no avail. I try and struggle free of the blanket screaming "You unbelievable ****ers! Let me out!" or some such words.

The miles pass uncomfortably. Every now and again I resume screaming and pounding on the lid, the floor, the plastic and steel bulkhead, but I am trapped and finally take steps to relax. My throat is raw. My knees bruised. My back and bottom, sore. The air in here is close. I am smothering on my dreadlocks, and I remember a tale of submariner's corpses, crowded around the hatch, fingers clawed to bone, frightful expressions, dragged en masse, from their dark salvaged coffin.

You might think I tried pleading with my captors next. And you would be right. I made extravagant promises, assured rich payoffs, admitted many unlikely dependent children, and a family sick with worry. Nothing worked. Simply no reply.

There is a transition. We are on a smooth surface now, loudly echoing the car's rapid progress. I gauge this to be "good" road. We are in Belgium, with no check at the border, thanks to the EU.

I admit, I am starting to get scared. It occurs to me that I may be wrong about our direction. I consider the chances of getting out of this alive. I wonder who will miss me at the rendevous?

Time passed, and I must admit, I fell asleep. I don't remember dreams.

Later ...

I wake, still, in the crumpled womb of blanket. The vehicle is quiet and all is silent except the occasional pulse of noise from of a passing car at some distance. It's really cold and I realise I am shivering. I kick and try to scream. Too parched now, it's a whisper.

Properly scared, for the waiting is what punishes, I make feeble noises, but better kicks and bangs. And Matt finds me. The service station staff rescue me from the dark. I'm free! Now what are the chances of that?! It takes me longer than you might expect to exit the boot.

I won't go into the hilarious sight of me bundled in a pink blanket, risen again, free at last! and really really angry! I curse a blue streak that approaches mauve, lash out ineffectively against them all. My hands and ankles are taped. Matt's laughter and the rain finally cool me down, and I am unwrapped, on oath of good behavior.

We are at a glisteningly bright service station, North of Brussels, some sixty miles from Breda in Holland and the finish line.

After the fuss dies down, and there is a degree of fuss, "... these English... one in the boot of that abandoned car..."
"NO! No police!" that they understand, our Flemish not up to scratch.
They give me water and stern advice about strangers, then Matt and myself leave, walk to the carriage way, and head North. We put out our thumbs. "Let's finish this race."

We walk for two hours, through darkness and weather. Each time a car approaches we both stop, thumbs out, faces tragic, trying to look small. Nobody stops.

The hours pass. Matt, still laughing, goes over my ordeal with a fine toothcomb, trying to lift reason, motive and gain? He's kind enough to skip the obvious questions, and part of me will always love you Matt, for your kindness and honesty, and the warmth and trust you and your family showed me when I had nothing and nobody. But also for that night, for I often tell the tale (omitting Paris, my journey and the race). It always gets a laugh!

We face facts. Nobody is going to stop and the rain insists we wait below a motorway flyover, somewhere in Belgium. Slowly, I crumple. I face uphill, down the slope towards a concrete support. I share my (his) blanket with Matt, and fall straight to sleep. It doesn't last ... I wake as a squished embryo, wake Matt trying to get right, and the cycle begins again. Until the sun returns.

Matt lets me have first lift, and costs himself the race.

The following period of time is a bit of a blur to me. Yes I walked. Yes, I had lifts. I could tell you nothing of them. By the next night I was less than 15 miles from Breda, but worn out, thirsty and starving.

Holland's flat countryside spreads out before me, darkness, starless, an horison in the North and scant else my only bearings. There is enough light to make out rough shapes in the fields to either side and the shapes of buildings that appear from the gloom at irregular intervals as I trudge North.

Then I smell ... strawberries. The field next to me is full of them! Digging the lush fruit from the manure, I gorged strawberries (and what else?), happily.

I ate far too many.

The rest of the journey is lost to me due to exhaustion. I made it to Breda the following morning, and collapsed below the clock in the town's main square. The place is rather pretty, with flower borders, cropped lawns and clear views into the town. I must have looked a state in this neat place, as a tramp tried to give me his spare set of shoes!

I waited, and eventually realised that I had won. Matt finally arrives to claim second place, followed by the German girl's team (sans Gretta), and the rest.

As the days pass, concern mounts, (principally over Bernie and Ellen) but all the the remaining runners turn up with tales to tell, Bernie and Ellen last.

Winning... what it feels like? Grim satisfaction. That's all I earned from the race. No prize was on offer. No revenue or reward. Only this fact; I had won.

To my certain knowledge, Gretta and Jack were never seen or heard from again, but what I found in the boot of their stolen Renault, on that Belgian forecourt? I spent over a year in Breda, waiting for those two. I worked, played, helped start a restaurant, visited Troyes in France, did the run to Brussels a few times, met a girl, and waited ... but that's another story.

Matt took his blanket back.

The shining ones moved on.

I returned to the UK the following autumn, leaving a note for Gretta and Jack on the smooth stone of Breda's clock tower. For some time afterwards, I'm told, the graffiti remained. In black felt-tip, my neat copperplate...

"To Gretta and Jack
It's mine now.
If you ever see me again,
start running."

It was last year before I could touch a strawberry again.

Postscript ... the shining ones.

It's different for me now, feels a long time since these things happened. Matt, I haven't seen for 20 years or more. I wonder where he is? And his family? And the UFO's? But that's another story. Bernie and Ellen went separate ways, some time after these events. He works as a chef, has two kids now. She, I haven't seen in years, probably caring for her mum.
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Well-known member
25 Dec 2007
S.W. France
Much as it was entertaining and reminded me of incidents while hitching in France and Spain, why is here? No boat was involved. Not even a ferry.


30 Jul 2018
"In the dream ... I am on a sailing yacht..."
Glad you liked the story.
Yes, I like ferrys too!
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16 May 2001
Larkhall, South Lanarkshire
Reflecting on the 20 years theme, about 20 years ago I had a couple of dear friends who were celebrating their 60th birthdays together. Their yacht had a particular habit of healing quite far so in order for them to enjoy their eggs safely I obtained a couple of stainless egg cups, filled the base with lead, fashioned a gimble system with stainless wire and mounted them on a wooden block. They were then able to enjoy their soft boiled eggs without the yoke running across the table.