Apologies in advance if I'm sounding a little smug this month....

Apologies in advance if I’m sounding a little smug this month. I’ve just taken delivery of two new boats in as many weeks and can barely control my excitement. Admittedly, one of them (the exceptionally tasty Bénéteau Flyer 12 you can read about on p18) is the magazine’s boat rather than my own, but I’m not letting a minor detail like this get in the way of my enthusiasm. I’ve recently spent a couple of days familiarising myself with its IPS drives and had to be forcibly dragged off the helm every evening.

As for my offer to buy a pint for the first reader to guess the make and model of my very own new boat – it looks like you all owe me one. Guesses included everything from an Azimut 43S to a Fairline Targa 38. I wish. It’s actually a much more modest 23ft (7m) walkaround sportsfisher called a Karnic 2250 but it’s mine to love, cherish and waste endless hours tinkering with. Surprised? So was I. I hadn’t even heard of them until three years ago and even when I did come across them on a visit to a local boatyard, I never would have guessed that I’d end up buying one.

I won’t bore you with the details of precisely why I changed my mind, although you’ll find a few clues on p21, but the journey has taught me two important lessons. The first is that there is no point us trying to tell you what boat to buy. Our test reports are the best in the business and while we can give chapter and verse on any craft’s good and bad points, we can never tell you whether it’s right for you. Everyone has different needs, priorities and constraints. And unless you happen to be Roman Abramovich, you’re probably going to have to compromise on some of them.

The second point is that when it comes to shelling out on something as inherently unreliable as a motor boat, the dealer is as important as the boat.
I didn’t just buy a lump of GRP, I bought a bloke that I trusted. All I need to do now is get out and enjoy my new toys. Peter Cumberlidge’s cross-Channel Route Planner on p67 should be just the thing. Although every serious cruiser should know how to navigate using the traditional chart-and-compass method, the reality is that most of us now use electronic chart plotters as our primary source of navigation. That’s why we have bitten the bullet and produced a GPS-friendly feature with all the waypoints and advice you need for a safe passage to Cherbourg, the Channel Islands and beyond. If you get there first, make mine a nice cold Guinness.