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John Fletcher Is Angry! The multihull rebellion!

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Stay At Home!

It all started with a simple suggestion for an article made by two long-standing readers who have since become friends who dreamed of setting out on that big adventure. As is the case between friends, we speak openly, yet what they said knocked me for six. OK, I know I can be a bit tetchy. And with hindsight it’s true that some questions are legitimate, but I couldn’t help being taken aback: “What about security:  should we fit cameras on the boat?”!   

Surveillance cameras on board a sailing boat? Now I’ve seen everything! I’d already heard of alarms like in offices of course! And I have to control myself when I hear mention of metal bars over the portholes. Are they there to stop people getting in or out? Worse still, I despair when people talk of having arms on board… R.I.P. Peter Blake! Yet the worst case of idiocy that I have heard was that of the owner of a nice 45’ catamaran who wanted to electrify the guardrails so that “savages” couldn’t get on board at night. I’m maybe overdoing it here but so what!  This story comes straight from the sail company where I used to work! My colleagues had put me in a bad mood for the evening with this story so I retorted: “Are you transporting gold ingots or original Gauguins?” For pity’s sake, if you are setting off on your boat, please make the most of it to leave your neuroses on dry land! I think that they got the message.   

Without proselytizing too much on this subject, I really can’t stand all of this desire for security products. It’s simply a reflection of all of our sedentary fears reinforced by an over the top media. Of course there are risks everywhere. But rather less I’d suggest when you’re moored in a deserted spot on the other side of the world than in the streets of your town or city. To set off around the world on a boat is all about discovering other countries, other cultures and other religions. It’s about relaxing, opening up, listening more, giving more, consuming less, slowing down and showing a little more humility. The best security is to show a little discretion. Avoid any ostentatious displays, from the throbbing outboard motor on your dinghy to all the latest electronic appliances (cameras, computers, tablets, ‘phones) worn like some kind of trophy!  A few badly hidden banknotes and photocopies of paperwork can work as a decoy. Buy local products. Don’t bother with underwater lighting (what’s the point?), and don’t transform your rigging into a Christmas tree (what is this obsession with fitting lighting on the spreaders?).  Do all this and you’ll attract less attention and less envious looks. 

On a subject which isn’t so far removed, I’m reminded of something that was once said a few years ago by Jimmy Cornell, an old friend of this magazine. At a seminar, he mentioned how he always had a suit on board his boat for when he had to carry out any formalities (customs, immigration) in whichever country he was visiting. There were a few sniggers amongst ...

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