Sandra and Tony

9th April 2020

East Cowes

Boatfolk stories: Sandra and Tony

Boatfolk Hero

Tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Sandra and I now live on the Isle of Wight and keep our boat in East Cowes Marina. We chose to change our lifestyle nearly four years ago, and moved from Milton Keynes to the Island. We’ve both swapped full-time work for a mixture of self-employed consultancy and casual work. 

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

We chose East Cowes Marina three years ago as we wanted a berth that allowed us ready access to the north, east and west – and to be closer to support services. However, what we got was much, much more than this! When we first arrived, we were welcomed by Mike and Jess, who took our ropes and welcomed us to our new berth. Since then we’ve found the marina to be very friendly and supportive, and we have ready access to social and boating activities. It is the best marina that we’ve stayed in. 

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

Most people in the marina know of our love for our two dogs – however they are unlikely to know that we’re in the process of starting beekeeping. We have the beehives and are now waiting for some bees! 

When and how did you get into boating? 

We started boating on the River Thames in 2001 with a Viking 26 narrow-beam river cruiser. We had great fun with this and covered most of the Thames (including some of the canals) from Oxford to Limehouse. However, we soon learned that this was not an ideal boat for navigating the tidal Thames! Our boating journey then meandered via a Fairline Sunfury and a Pedro steel boat (both also on the Thames), until we arrived at our current Princess flybridge cruiser which we kept at Norwich until we moved to the Island. 

Who do you enjoy spending time on the water with and why? 

Our dogs! They don’t bark orders, and paws before telling tails on our mistakes! 

What’s been your fondest boating memory? 

The warm welcome we got when we arrived – both on the pontoon and in the office. 

What is your biggest achievement to date and why?  

Our Princess was on the river Trent when we bought her. Or biggest achievement was our first sea journey. We took her down the Trent, into the Humber (big ships!), across the Wash (no land in sight!) and into Lowestoft (big waves over boat!). It was a really exciting adventure and an exhilarating introduction to boating at sea. 

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

We both wish that we had taken up boating earlier. It really is a great activity which involves all the family and friends. 

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

Of course! There is a style of boating to suit all tastes. Our perfect break is to spend time relaxing on our boat with our dogs. 

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

Small boats are just as much fun as bigger boats, they’re cheaper to buy and to run, they’re easier to handle and need fewer crew and you’ll use them more! 

Also, learn to do your own cleaning and routine maintenance, you’ll get to know your boat better, it’s all part of the fun! 

Talk to lots of different boaters before you buy. Your boat needs to suit the needs of you and your family – what suits other people may not suit you. 

While it will be necessary to buy some products specific to boats, often products for cars and caravans will be suitable – and much cheaper. 

What are your boating plans for the future? 

We want to continue to explore the many harbours and marinas in the Solent area but also have our sights set on longer trips to the West Country where we will be assured of a warm welcome in one of the many boatfolk marinas. 

What’s been your strangest boating experience?  

We were coming into a fuel pontoon on the river. Sandra was on the bow with the ropes, Tony on the flybridge and our two dogs inside the saloon. Suddenly the boat lost steering, pandemonium broke out as we headed out of control towards the fuel berth. We then realised that one of the dogs was standing on the dashboard of the lower helm position, being ever helpful, she had put her paw on the autopilot control. Berthing was then safely affected once Tony had switched off the autopilot. The moral of the story: don’t let your dog become a back-seat driver! 

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