“There are only so many things you can do on a boat, so if you buy a bigger boat, all you’re buying is more space. If you can
come up with solutions that allow you to do the things you want to on a smaller boat instead then you arrive at the same point but far more efficiently and economically.”

Steve McFadden is talking to me aboard his Botnia Targa 25, a boat that was carefully selected and then subjected to a thorough and intelligent two-year refit entirely in line with that philosophy.

Most people know of Steve McFadden as an actor, famous for playing EastEnders’ Phil Mitchell for close to 30 years. What few people are aware of is his deep passion for boating that stretches right back into childhood.

“My uncle was a stuntman and owned a speedboat down at Canvey Island. When I was about six, we used to blast around in that. My dad had a couple of mates with boats on the Thames around Teddington way.

“I got my first taste of the sea at around ten years old in Chichester, crewing for friends and family aboard Moody motor sailors, and that introduced me to the sailing world. I was sailing at Cowes aged about 12.”

In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Steve was joining professional delivery trips, sailing yachts from the UK to places like Gibraltar, Mallorca and Portugal. “It took me to places I never would have seen otherwise.”

Steve’s own boat came when he was about 20. “It was a 20ft cabin cruiser that I kept on the Thames, and then I bought a little Seal 22 sailing boat that I kept down in Falmouth for a few years.” Steve later progressed to a trawler which he kept on the Thames.

“When they decommissioned all the fishing vessels, they were being sold cheaply. It was 72ft long and built in 1948 in Peterhead. I bought it in Stornoway and brought it down to London.

“It was a lot of boat for the money but finding somewhere to put it was another issue. I kept it against one of the lighters moored in the middle of the Thames and had it for about five years.”

Read the full story in the August 2018 issue of MBY.