I've been sailing dinghies for over 10 years and am a member of Dorchester Sailing Club. As a child I read all I could find by Arthur Ransome, who could fairly be described as having taught me (and thousands of others) to sail a small boat. Now that's what I call quality writing.

My first boat was an elderly Mirror (10895) which had been built in the kitchen of the first Director of OXFAM 26 years earlier. As a family boat (Bathsheba) she had spent many hours in Poole Harbour and elsewhere along the Portsmouth area coastline. Found to be rotten above the tank-line, I taught myself simple boatbuilding by cutting her gun'nals down to the deck and splicing new ply ones in with new hardwood rails. Four years later, after a Welsh holiday near Lake Bala, a rock came effortlessly through the bottom as we were completing our 13 minute sail across the Lake. I had no hesitation in ordering my crew over the side as she settled in 9 inches of water. I claim some sort of record for miles trailed gainst minutes sailed. Cutting the bottom out of her leaving the deck and tanks seemed logical, so that was how she was repaired, using the original stitch-and-glue method. To my amazement the compound curves formed and matched perfectly. People have said how they couldn't have made these repairs themselves, but confidence has a lot to do with it. That, plus the fact that the alternative is to burn the boat (and its history) as "beyond economic commercial repair". I couldn't do it! There's a considerable sense of satisfaction in repairing and sailing ones own craft. Ask Noah.

My next boat was, and is, a Solo (2323). Somewhat more lively than the Mirror, it has given me many years of fun, mainly on Coniston Water in the Lake District. Last year that went rotten on the lower hull and stern and so was repaired and given a complete new bottom panel set, transom and keel strake. View the three restoration photos if you're interested.

Last year also saw the purchase of the Enterprise (15212) so that others could sail both on holiday and here at Dorchester. She's fibreglass, so there's not the same maintainence problem.

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