Romance vs. Practicality?

Well, I have bowed to the inevitable and sold my soul for the sake of my crew.  As regular visitors will already know, as a VI sailor I have to have a sighted crew aboard for the peace of mind of the denizens of the River Blackwater.  The suggestion of a blind bloke belting up the river in a heavy boat, for some reason, seems to bring out the worst in people and they purse lips and wag heads in a disaproving manner!  Inexplicably, having a sighted crew member aboard seems to make people a little more sanguine about my sailing activities.

Now, I love gaffers.  I loved my old Nutmeg, flush decked and crampped, impracticable as she was.  4’6″ of headroom is not, lets face it, to everyones taste, but she was a beauty!  Sailed as if she was on rails and a joy to handle in all types of wind.  Lifting center plate was ideal for east coast sailing.  (sigh).  You will note I speak of my love in the past tense.

Nutmeg had to go to avoid mutiny amongst my crew and to ensure my 36 year marriage continued blisfully into the future


So Nutmeg has been sold and will be living on the Thames at Greenwich.  I am now the owner of Rhoda Rose, a Colvic Watson ketch rigged motor sailor.  She seems huge!

The Wheelhouse

The WheelhouseRhoda Rose has all mod cons, two forms of heating, calorifyer, hot and cold running water, oven, grill and hob, sound system, and most important of all, well over 6′ headroom.

There is no getting away from it, she makes sense.  Accomodation is incredible.  Room to move about and relax in comfort.  My dear wife is much happier, the wheelhouse makes a great bird hide.

Jayne in WH


I suppose I will sound ungrateful if I state that I understand all the advantages Rhoda Rose offers.  She is big, safe, has a 50hp Volvo Penta, sails fine off of the wind and with the engine ticking over points well enough to windward too.  But she is NOT AN OLD GAFFER.  She is not romantic, I can not pretend to be a pirate aboard her, she does not creek, you do not get spray splashed on your face in a wheelhouse.


Rhoda’s helm position.  Auto helm, AIS, GPS, Chartplotter and DSC-VHF as well as depth and speed log and compass.  Windscreen wipers and, and, and, not a tiller in sight.

In every way all one could want, lots of gizmos to play with but, somehow, I think I will miss the feel of the tiller.

I know many many people would love a boat like Rhoda Rose and I am very aware of how lucky I am to own such a lovely boat.  Please do not think me ungrateful.  It is just that I do not yet love her.  There, I have said it.  She is a great boat but she is not a romantic one.

Me in WH

So, there you are.  I now own a sensible, practical floating carav, oops, motor sailor.  When Rhoda and I have scared each other a few times, spent a few nights at anchor together, got through some foul weather together and arrived safely home, I am sure I will grow to love her.

She has kept me busy, sorting out electrics, deck leaks and so on.  All great fun and a part of boat ownership I love.  She has been revarnished inside and out, and the gelcoat has been polished.  I have even fitted curtain rails and curtains to match her scatter cushions (not quite the same as releathering a gaff jaw and slavering tallow on a bowsprit).  Right, thats it.  I will not moan about her again! Promise! Really.

So begins a new chapter in my sailing career.  Goodbye Nutmeg, welcome Rhoda Rose.


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2 Responses to Romance vs. Practicality?

  1. Paul Finlay says:

    Hi from Paul.
    A sensible choice..having owned a Grabber Mk I before I now sail a Cox Master Mariner a small motorsailer. I also changed boats recently due to health reasons and settled on a motorsailer for the same practical reasons you have listed. The internal space is excellent and I love the wheel steering position and the ability to walk around the cabin. Oh…and the large engine..!
    Getting the right boat to enjoy with your wife maybe a compromise in terms of the romance of the Gaffer compared to the practicality of the Colvic Watson, however I’m sure your wife will enjoy the boat in many more ways.
    The Colvic Watson is a fantastic sea boat and I very nearly bought one myself. I’m a member of their forum on Yahoo, this is a great site and Mike offers sound advice.
    What size is your boat..? I’m sure you won’t regret the change..what’s wrong with sailing in comfort anyway..!
    At the end of last season during late October I was sailing out of Fowey on a lovely bright day..later it blew up a bit and returning to port I past a Cornish Shrimper with crew tucked up in the small cockpit in their full wet weather gear..and getting covered in spray..they gave me a wave..and I stepped out of the wheelhouse and waved back. I was in shorts and tee shirt drinking hot freshly brewed coffee..! I have no regrets now owning what many sailors think of as an ‘Old Man’s Boat’ it comes to us all in the end…only some of us accept the inevitable and make a decision early on and enjoy sailing in greater comfort.
    I do hope you have fun.

  2. Paul Finlay says:

    Crabber not Grabber…sorry.!

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