This magazine appears to be displaying decidedly anti-RYA tendencies these days.

This magazine appears to be displaying decidedly anti-RYA tendencies these days.

Ray Bulman and John Matthews have had perfectly justifiable pops at the Royal Yachting Association over the past couple of months for various things that the organisation has done or not done, and a perception seems to have grown up that we are making a concerted effort to annoy the Powers That Be. Our on-line Motor Boat Chat forum is heaving with people wondering what the RYA has ever done for them.

So, in a Pythonesque kind of way, I?m going to remind you what the RYA has done for us. Apart from the aqueducts, the sanitation, the roads and the wine, the RYA has done many things for which we should be grateful. Okay, the RYA does seem to be a bit too hung-up on organising dinghy races and representing the interests of the blow-boaters, but let?s not forget that it has made sterling efforts to retain tax-free diesel for recreational boaters. That, in itself, is worth the £30 price of annual RYA membership.

Then there?s the training. We are one of the few nations that doesn?t have compulsory training, licensing and registration, preferring to encourage voluntary training to levels that are the envy of the world. An RYA Yachtmaster ticket is something to be proud of ? the holder has been instructed and examined to the very highest standards.

And what about the books? The RYA produces some absolutely brilliant publications on all aspects of our pastime, from basic knot-tying to advanced navigation at speed, and guidance on the paperwork you?ll need if you?re cruising to Latvia. Sure, other people may publish similar books, but you know that, rather like the BSI kite-mark, the RYA logo is an assurance of quality.

Before you cancel your RYA membership on the grounds that the organisation does too much for the sailing fraternity and not enough for us motorboaters, consider this: does that actually matter? The fact that the RYA is working vigorously to protect the interests of recreational water users is reason enough to give it your support. So what if they don?t organise enough cruises in company for motor boats? Organise your own! So what if there isn?t a blind boat-handling competition within 100 miles of your home port? Try further afield!

Next time you?re out boating without let or hindrance from Men-in-Hats, or filling your tanks with 23p-per-litre diesel, ask yourself: what the hell did the RYA ever do for me?