Who in their right mind would drive 200 miles from Poole to the furthest fringes of Essex, hop aboard a boat for a two-hour sail, and then get straight back in the car to drive all the way home again? A boat-tester for the yachting press, that’s who. No one else would be daft enough.
A few weeks ago we were in Essex for a couple of missions, one of which was to test a new and very different little boat. It was a lovely day and we achieved much of what we needed to, but the forecast wind failed to appear.
We were left with a choice: either be suitably vague about the boat’s sailing qualities when writing the article, which would have been the sensible approach, or go back another day. As a freelancer you don’t get paid a penny more for going back again but, being a martyr to our cause, that’s what we did. We faced the M25’s traffic jams both ways, spending more than 9 hours on the road and covering over 400 miles – all for what will probably boil down to little more than a couple of paragraphs.
At least we had a decent breeze this time and learned a good deal about the boat that hadn’t been possible before. It will add value for the readers – at our expense. We also saw loads of seals, which are a common sight in these parts but a novelty for many south-coast sailors.
You never get any sympathy when people learn that you sail, test and photograph boats for a living, but at the end of a day like that you can’t help wondering why you do it.