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9th April 2020


Boatfolk stories: Yan Webber

Boatfolk Hero

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m 71 years old, live in Salisbury, and have been boating since 1987 when I won an MG Spring 25 in the 'Win the Howard's Way’ yacht competition in the Sunday Mirror. I've come out of retirement and drive a school bus to fund my current Northshore Spring 25 'Gemini'; she bristles with technology, like a Russian spy trawler.

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

I have been a Deacons berth holder ever since I visited the marina stand at the 2017 Southampton Boat Show. The staff were very friendly, and the rates were reasonable, so we were seduced from our marina on the River Itchen. Best move we ever made.

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

I was born in Malaya at the outbreak of the emergency, I arrived in Southsea, England in 1960 and in Salisbury with the Army in 1967. Here I married and settled down. I'm a musician of sorts and last year at the annual Salisbury Music Awards, was given a lifetime achievement award for 'Outstanding service in promoting live music in Salisbury and the South'.

When and how did you get into boating?

When I started, I was only just aware that the 'blunt end should arrive at a given destination before the sharp end'. I now know that that is not always the case, so I guess I must have learned something!

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

My wife, family and friends. Boating and friendship are symbiotic.

What’s been your fondest boating memory?

I enjoy any excuse to get together with anyone in Deacons; friendships make the world go around. Like most boaters my favourite boat is usually the next size up! I learn every time I go out. Whether I put that learning to good use is for others to answer; not me! I have really enjoyed exploring new places and last year cruised to Falmouth and back, visiting many places on both legs. I also enjoy tinkering with my boat to hopefully improve it and make it safer. My brother once said to me, "I'm impressed; some of the holes you've drilled have actually been above the waterline".

Describe your perfect few days afloat?

Cruising, not racing. It's my fond quote that I was once overtaken by a cola can; to windward. Not true, but it sums up my ethos.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration and why?

Tom Cunliffe. A fascinating and most knowledgeable man.

What is your ultimate dream/goal?

To cruise the Med, taking several years.

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

To feel my sloop pick up the wind and 'get in the groove'. Through my tiller, I'm close to nature; the sheer joy of propelling a craft through the water using the wind is utterly organic.

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

Everyone should get afloat. OK, there are dark and stormy days, but often the weather is good the world looks - and is - a better place.

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

There are any number of ways to get afloat. As long as it is safely done, there is great enjoyment to be had by being out on the water.

What are your boating plans for the future?

At 71 I don't have any huge ambitions other than to stay fit and well and to continue to enjoy life. My boating life, on or off the water, comes closer to that than just about anything else.

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