From the Editor: January 2002

I remember once feeling quietly confident that I had covered all eventualities in my passage planning...

I remember once feeling quietly confident that I had covered all eventualities in my passage planning from Milford Haven to Aberystwyth. I’d allowed myself plenty of time to study the chart, I had read the relevant bits of the pilot book, made notes, drawn lines, studied the tidal streams. The forecast was fair, the boat was in good fettle and I had an unflappable, experienced crew. We even had a full flask of coffee and some sandwiches ready for lunch on the move. Then as we turned west at the entrance, instead of the familiar shapes of Skomer and Skokholm islands there was nothing to see but a thick bank of fog.

On another occasion, off Skye, after an utterly horrible day and night dragging our anchor around a gale-bound bay to the alarm of all concerned (mainly me), we were making good progress, finally, on a flat and sunlit sea.

I had just made the mistake of thinking that perhaps we deserved a little respite from bad luck after all we’d been through, when we picked up a very long blue rope around the starboard propeller.

Then there was the occasion of the stuck throttle in St Peter Port, on a boat where the only place you could switch the engines off was the place where you had switched them on. In this case, I had switched them on downstairs. Before coming alongside the fuel berth, of course, I had moved up to the flybridge… The yachtsman whose unfortunate vessel bore the brunt of the resultant impact was very nice about it, but the repair bill for the pulpit was substantial.

My reason for indulging in this nostalgic catalogue of calamities is to remind myself that these things happen to everyone, especially, it sometimes seems, to me. All of us who go afloat come a cropper occasionally, for all sorts of reasons, and not always as a direct consequence of our own shortcomings. The most one can hope for, perhaps, is that when luck does choose to desert you she’ll wait until there’s no one watching.