I am an old, middle class man from middle England. I have been a sailor since I was 8 years old yet I have never been right around the island I have lived on all my life.
I decided to make a start before I got too old to tolerate a small boat. I am not a rich man, so I can't afford to do the trip all in one go - I am doing it in stages between my real job as a cameraman and video journalist.
The boat had to be cheap and tough - so I bought a 19 foot Mirror Offshore. She is nearly 50 years old and was designed by Van De Stadt for a competition being run by the Daily Mirror newspaper where the brief was to create a "yacht for the working man". I have always been a working man - and as a jobbing hack then I consider myself to be a working man too.
This was at a time when Harold Wilson was promising energy would be too cheap to measure and that the main problem facing Britain's labour force would be an excess of leisure time - what happened?
The Mirror Offshore has a separate heads, an inboard Volvo diesel with a flywheel that would do justice to a tractor, a triple keel so she sits upright on the mud and a 17 foot mast which is short enough for me to raise and lower myself. She was built of fibreglass at a time before they had managed to cut so many corners that they invented osmosis. She draws just over a welly - so I can usually get by without using the $40 ebay inflatable that I keep in the stern locker.
I used to race Eboats and Sonatas so I know how well a small yacht should sail. The Mirror sails like a pig.
After 5 years the Beast (Volvo MD1) went bonkers so I sold the Mirror and Bought a Hunter Minstrel
with an outboard in a well, . I sailed her up to Scotland and realised that I would need a bigger boat for Shetland so I acquired a Westerly Centaur on a partial loan.
She got us safely around Shetland and Orkney. Then I spent two summers and a winter sailing in Scotland in the 22 foot Hunter Minstrel and decided that I needed a bigger boat again. So I bought a second Centaur.
now for the dull stuff - the law says this has to be here
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