I first thought of building a boat after a visit to the Friar's Goose marina on the Tyne, 30 years back. Here was a marina like no other - not a gin-and-tonic nor white trouser to be seen. This was a boatyard for the working men of the North East, who were damned if the ocean dream were to remain a privilege of the wealthy. What they had in spades were relevant skills, and a culture of co-operation necessary to their trades. Here, 'on the hard', rose vessels of steel, concrete and wood, destined for weekends fishing or blue water cruising. And, if time and resources meant a long, slow build, then so much the better - that meant more days immersed with mates in the build, more evenings quaffing Federation lager and Dog in the bar. And it was behind the bar that fading, colour photos of Jimmie's ketch in the Bahamas, of Alan's sloop in the Med. sat as proof that some, at least, had made good their escape. That was sufficient hope, it seemed, to give focus through the months, years and pints, the faith from which all things are built.
We can forget that Adventure is essentially Democratic. We can think that we need money, time, kit, training to get out in the mountains, on the water, on the road or in the air. This is often true, but not necessarily true. Think of the climber, Joe Brown, who started out with discarded clothes' line for rope; of Ridgway and Blyth rowing the Atlantic in a wooden dory, and of Ted Simon riding the world on a Triumph Tiger. Sure, we can tell ourselves that we can't possibly go into the wild without the best kit, that we have to stay safe, and rightly so. But we are equipped with a capacity for imagination which can at once guide us to appropriate adventures, and help us enjoy them. Can't afford a yacht? then build a canoe, and explore the coastline like no-one else can. Pilot's licence beyond reach? Go paragliding, and really fly. We knew about this in the past - before we were embarrassed to be seen in a converted lifeboat, or feared the consequences of hitch-hiking. If you want adventure, it's out there. Start dreaming, get the plans, build the boat… and in a couple of year's time you, too, can be sat in a shed dreaming of the High Seas!