In England, I was a keen dinghy sailer who raced every Sunday with my local club and spent a few weeks every year chartering yachts or sailing as crew. Moving to Australia presented my wife and me with the opportunity to buy a small yacht of our own.
The downside was that I had to sell my beloved Wayfarer and Supernova dinghies. However, the prospect of owning a yacht more than compensated for that. In the UK, even a small yacht – and a marina pen in which to keep it – was beyond our modest means.
I think I actually said, ‘I’m only moving to Australia if we can buy a yacht.’ I was only half-joking.
Being on the water is special. Particularly in a sailing boat, kayak or canoe, you can glide along (almost) effortlessly and silently. It gives you time to enjoy the babble of the water, the song of birds, maybe dolphins playing in your bow wave or fish just visible in the deep.
I’ve sailed and paddled coastal waters, lakes and rivers in the UK, in the Baltic and in the Ionian Sea and around Victoria, Australia. It’s just magical. To be able to move across this beautiful, alien, sometimes terrifying element through your own skill, but always by the grace of a primal power which can put you, an insignificant human, in your place – there’s nothing better.