Mike Townshend

20th April 2020

East Cowes

Boatfolk stories: Mike Townshend

Boatfolk Hero

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well, I started sailing in a Mirror dinghy aged eight on a pond in Petersfield. In my teens I did lots of racing in Falmouth and then got into cruising in my twenties. Eventually I did a couple of delivery trips from Greece and Malta back to the UK in the 90’s.

When and why did you choose to work at our marina?

I joined Dean & Reddyhoff in 1999 as manager of Weymouth Marina after leaving my job in Palma, Mallorca. My role in Palma was a Country Manager for Sunsail, and whilst it was loads of fun, my liver simply could not keep up with the pace of that industry!

Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I love all forms of two-wheeled travel, especially motorcycling (Yamaha Tracer 7) and mountain biking (Scott Scale 720c and a Cannondale Moterra eBike). In the off-seasons I've toured Mallorca, Turkey and Gran Canaria.

When and how did you get into the marine industry/boating?

I resigned from my programming job and joined Sunsail as a Flotilla Skipper in 1991, sailing in the Ionian and through the Corinth Canal and up to the Sporades. Subsequently I worked for Sunsail in Turkey, the Balearics and the British Virgin Islands.

What is a typical workday like?

A typical workday does not really exist for me. As any boater knows, if it can happen, it probably will happen on a boat, and as a marina is a collection of boats and boaters, the possibilities of absolutely anything happening in a marina tends towards the inevitable! The best bits of my day revolve around conversations with the skippers and crews that use the marina, and my colleagues who look after them.

What’s a common question you get from customers?

“What’s the food like at The Lifeboat?” – the answer is excellent (obviously!)

What do you like most about your job?

My crew. I have a fantastic team who look after the skippers and crews brilliantly and make my life a breeze. The team have a great sense of humour and our 11am coffee meetings are always a hilarious affair! They’re the reason I’ve stayed with the company for more than 20 years.

What’s been your fondest memory as an employee of ours?

My fondest memory is of dragging a very sodden Richard Reddyhoff over the hills of the Isle of Wight on his mountain bike in a roaring September gale!

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Crazily enough, I like nothing more than to come down to the marina and go sailing in our big old bus of a Jeanneau with the family - I just can’t get enough!  August summer holidays invariably see us cruising across to the Channel Islands for some cycling, swimming, drinking and eating!

Who or what is your biggest inspiration and why?

Oh, those big mountaineer characters of the 70s like Chris Bonington, Doug Scott and Dougal Haston. I’m also inspired by the likes of Michel Desjoyeux and especially Francis Joyon, both great French single-handed yachtsmen. Why? Because they are folk who do stuff and couldn’t care less about the bragging rights. They just want to do the thing for their own satisfaction.

What is the one thing that makes you feel the most alive?

Snowboarding or motorcycling.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Never worry what other people think about you… just get on with it!

Would you recommend getting afloat to a friend or family member and why?

Getting on the water is the perfect antidote to the modern world, and the insane speed at which we live our lives. Being afloat demands our attention and forces us to slow down and appreciate the good things in life.

Boating can be deemed an expensive hobby/sport, what would your tips be for someone who is looking to get afloat?

There are loads of inexpensive ways to get afloat. Paddle boarding is affordable and accessible, as well as being great exercise and loads of fun! Equally, the indestructible nature of fiberglass boats means there are now plenty of older yachts that are both perfectly serviceable and pretty cheap in real terms.  

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