Boat ownership has never been more affordable

Budget boat advocate, Dave Selby, reveals how anyone can get afloat.

Amidst the glamour of new yachts costing hundreds of thousands of pounds and even millions, campaigning sailor, Dave Selby, is taking to the Foredeck Stage at the Southampton Boat Show, powered by Borrow a Boat, on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September at 4.30pm to reveal how anyone can get afloat in a boat of their own, no matter how modest their means.

The sailing writer, who describes himself as a budget boating evangelist, says: “It’s the untold secret of sailing. People who don’t do it think sailing is exclusive and costly, but boat ownership has really never been more affordable and accessible.”

To drive home his message, Dave sailed his 1978 18ft Sailfish yacht, Marlin, over 340 miles to put it on display at the Southampton Boat Show in 2016.

“My boat cost me £2,000 in 2004, today an equivalent Sailfish would cost around two-thirds of that. What I’m saying is that for less than the price of a single holiday you can buy a boat that will give you holidays of a life-time for a life-time.”

He adds: “Fibre-glass doesn’t rust like metal or rot like wood, so the simple fact is there’s an ever-growing stock of used boats, driving prices down, and some are even being given away. The great thing is that many early fibre-glass boats were over engineered and really built to last. This is the truly sustainable way of sailing.”

Dave called his adventure Marlin’s Mission, and described it as one of the richest experiences of his life, adding: “My little boat was my universe, I had everything I needed for life at hand, and perhaps that’s the biggest marvel sailing has to give: to tell us how little we need and how lucky we are. That’s what I want to share.”

Dave Selby and Bart

Another impetus for Marlin’s Mission was a life-changing ordeal in 2012 when Dave was paralysed from the waist down with a rare nerve illness called Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

He explains: “I recovered from that but was then diagnosed with an even rarer variant called CIDP, which means the messages stop getting through to my legs about every four and a half weeks. Then I go into hospital for three days and antibodies from the blood of 800 donors literally give me legs for another month. Humbling. It’s one of those things that gives you a kick up the butt. I even call it ‘my blessing’ because it’s given me so much.”

Thanks to Marlin’s Mission, Dave, 59, has so far raised over £13,000 for the Guillain-Barré charity GAIN, which supports those with this rare illness and funds research.

Dave Selby is a writer and career journalist who has specialised in the classic car market for most of his working life. He came to sailing late in life (in 2000) and bought his first boat, an 18ft Sailfish, in 2004. The discovery of sailing was a life-changing event, prompting the life-long Londoner to leave the capital and live by the sea in Maldon, on the River Blackwater in Essex.

He started chronicling his adventures and mishaps in his Mad About The Boat column in Practical Boat Owner magazine in 2005, and in 2017 published his first sailing book, “The Impractical Boat Owner” (Bloomsbury), a joyous expression of the “yachting condition” and the trials and tribulations of a novice sailor.

He says: “If there’s a message in my book, it’s that if Dave Selby can do it, anyone can.”

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