We have been boat owners since January this year. Before that, it was always a dream. One of those things you talk about, "one day we must buy a boat and take advantage of the Norfolk Broads as we live so close". But that was all it was, a dream. We didn't expect it to become a reality, at least not so soon.
So, we bought a yacht. A yacht we needed to sail...but we couldn't sail. So, we found an instructor and we learnt how to sail. And it has been wonderful.
As soon as we met our boat in the boat shed, before we owned her we straight away felt a connection to her. It's weird and it is hard to describe without sounding totally bonkers. But we didn't expect it to be such an emotional thing.
We left with doubts on whether or not we could give her the love and attention that she would need. In terms of quality she was up there with the best. She didn't need any work done other than a lick of paint to protect her when she returned to the water.
But you can't just buy a wooden yacht and not be prepared to, at some point, have to work on it. It's not as simple as
Buy a boat.
Stick it in the water.
After a week of confusion, and tears (yes, tears) we decided to see her again and this is when we knew we had to have her, for the simple fact that as the owners were talking us through certain parts of the boat we were referring to her as ours. And we were making plans. And we looked at each other and just knew.
There is a spiritual thing with boats almost. Maybe you need to be a boat owner to understand it? We don't fully understand it. But if you ever hear a sailor say that a boat talks to you then you must believe them. Because it is totally the case.
Our boat came alive as soon as she hit the water. When she was in the shed she was relaxed, asleep almost. She then was placed into the water, moored up and then....she woke up. She had this glow to her, it was like she was breathing.
Over time we have realised that it's not just about us sailing the boat, and us looking after her. She is as much a part of it as we are. She looks after us, she tells us what to do, and she looks after us.
We are completely in love with her. She really is part of the family and as much as I have written here I can't explain fully just how, alive, a wooden yacht can be. I never thought it would be such an intense feeling.
I didn't realise just how passionate I would be either. And yes, we judge other boats when we see them. You can see who clearly adores their boat and who....doesn't.
The hire yachts are loved by the owners but unfortunately, those who hire boats, don't have even an ounce of love or respect for a boat and this year we have realised that hire boats, mainly, are treated like bumper cars.
We will see boats that need a clean, that need some work done on a bigger scale, and we can't help but question why the owners don't feel it is important to keep up with the maintenance.
And then....we see boats like this one. We see it a lot and it breaks our hearts.
This sad, abandoned boat, which with the right care and attention has so much more life in it. Proof of that? It's still floating. Despite being in such a bad, unloved condition, it is still alive.
But it hurts, you can tell it is hurting, and suffering, and that it just wants someone to come along and comfort it. And to make it all ok. To let it live and to do it's job of making sailors enjoy the wonderful waters around us.
Whenever we sail past I give it a smile, just so it knows that someone still appreciates it, and understands how it feels.
But at the moment it's abandoned, and will probably stay that way.