Born Again Boater: The joys of a great boating playlist

Nick Burnham explains why his boating playlist keeps his spirits up, even when he’s miles away from his boat

The year I bought Smuggler’s Blues – 2014 – was all about getting everything shipshape. New bilge pumps went in, nav lights repaired, expired fire extinguishers changed and so on.

Last year, with the brunt of the necessary work done, the spending didn’t stop (the spending never stops), but the purchases were rather more fun.

Without doubt the single most brilliant thing that has brought the most pleasure to life aboard Smuggler’s Blues is a marine stereo. A Kenwood KMR-440U, it’s a compact unit that comprises simply of a tuner and a USB socket.

Just drag music files into folders on a USB stick at home, plug it in and you’ve got an instant selectable library.

Birchell Marine did its usual bang-up job of installing it, complete with four waterproof white grilled Kenwood speakers. And it sounds fantastic – easily audible even at fast planing speeds.

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What I particularly like is the ability to compose a great boating playlist. I’ve got a ‘Summer Cruising’ list full of upbeat classics like U2 – Beautiful Day and The Rolling Stones – Don’t Stop.

And in the evening I can score a more laid-back groove with my ‘Night Cruising’ playlist by the likes of London Grammar, Groove Armada and Moby.

But there’s an interesting side effect to this. I’ve put the same boating playlists on my iPhone. So now, when I’m off travelling alone, I can settle back on a plane or train, slip on my headphones, dial up ‘Summer Cruising’, close my eyes and I’m instantly transported to warm sunny days afloat.

The mahogany wheel held lightly between my fingertips, coastline scudding by, Smuggler’s Blues alive beneath my feet, the company of good friends, the warmth of the sun, the tang of the salt and great music rocking the boat. Bliss.


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