Sunday, March 12, 2006


In the autumn of last year I started to build a Matt Layden Paradox micro-sailboat, but when the winter weather made its presence felt I was forced to stop building her. Now that spring is not far away I’m psyching myself up to resume the building process. To prepare me physically I undertook the task of re-lagging and boarding the loft of my house and I’ve installed a folding ladder. All the climbing, bending and laying flat-out on support boards and rafters, along with the stretching required to reach almost inaccessible spaces under the eaves, has toned up my muscles in readiness for the work of planing, sawing, and hammering that will be necessary to build my boat, but only yesterday I saw an advertisement for the sale of a Phil Bolger ‘Birdwatcher’, complete with a trailer and engine, and my heart pulsed at the very thought of owning her. This was indeed a temptation, which, if I succumbed, would mean a setback in building ‘Faith’, the Paradox of my dreams.

A few years ago I went to Edinburgh to see what was then the only ‘Birdwatcher’ in the UK, with the purpose of buying her, but for reasons I’d rather not go into I had to change my plans after making a tentative offer. She was not in the best condition, since she had been left exposed to more than one fierce Scottish winter, and when I saw her she was covered with snow and ice. Parts of her deck had rotted and her pintles and gudgeons had rusted, but these could have been replaced without too much expense.

I was disappointed not to be able to have her as my very own, because there could be no better craft for exploring the shallow waters of the Thames estuary and the Essex and Kent tidal rivers. If I were to succumb to the bewitching lines of this Siren ‘Birdwatcher’ she would demand my attention, which would steal time set aside for building ‘Faith’, my dream Paradox. Yes, I could manage two boats, but ‘Paradox’ and ‘Birdwatcher’ are both suitable for shallow water sailing, so what would be the point of owning two such vessels? Which would I use for a particular outing and where would I keep two trailer sailers? Logic overrules me having two similar boats, not just because they do the same job, but because of the extra expense of running and maintaining more than one boat. ‘Paradox’ will be the easier of the two to launch and recover while trailer sailing, and, besides, I have purchased all the wood and many fittings for completing ‘Faith’; therefore, I must be faithful to my original choice and commitment. I must put ‘Birdwatcher’ out of my mind and focus on the task ahead of building my dream.

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