Wednesday 22 November 2017

Building a boat and sailing away from life as you know it

Have you ever dreamt of getting away from it all, of selling all of your possessions and buying a yacht? To sail the high seas under blue skies, relax on beaches and visit the capitals of the world? Well, before you go ahead, you should read Pete Hogan's The Log of the Molly B.

Pete is a Dubliner who was working in Canada but who had always wanted to build his own boat and go sailing. One day he had the opportunity to buy a bare hull, fit it out and sail off towards the far horizons.

The Molly B (short for Molly Bloom) turned out to be a very basic vessel, without the mod cons one would normally require for a relaxing and safe trip – no engine, no radio, no electrics and only a sextant for navigation.

But it was a well-built, strong boat with comfortable sleeping accommodation and a wood-burning stove to keep him warm.

The book details how Pete set off from the western coast of Canada towards the Panama Canal, stopping off in many ports along the way. His main source of finance was the money he made selling drawings of other boats to their owners. He is a talented artist and the book is filled with his own superb illustrations.

Sailing single-handed in an engineless yacht is no easy feat, but Pete overcame all difficulties – bad weather, holing the boat on rocks, losing his mast in a gale.

When his mast came down, he made a few new friends, wandered off with them to the nearest wood, chopped down a tree and – bingo – he had a new mast! The book relates many stories of such problems and how Pete overcame them all.

After passing through the canal, he crossed the Atlantic, finally making landfall in Kilronan on the Aran Islands. He took a longish break (Pete does not reveal in what years his adventures took place) in Dublin, overhauling the Molly B and fitting an engine, lights and a radio, then he set off on his round-the-world trip.

Heading south, he sailed around the Horn of Africa, landed in Australia where he met the girl who was to become his future wife, survived the weather extremes of the Cape of Good Hope and returned safely to Ireland.

One reads with astonishment of how he sailed within a few miles of Port Stanley in the Falklands but decided to press on without stopping off there for supplies or human company!

Subsequently, Pete set off on yet another trip, this time with his girlfriend. His story ends rather suddenly and you will have to read it yourself to find out why – I won't spoil it for you.

The book has a first-rate glossary of nautical terms to assist the non-sailor. It is an exciting and inspiring read, but deserved to have been properly proof-read before publication.

Michael Marr of Howth Yacht Club has been a keen sailor for over 30 years.

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