In nautical circles grounding is usually related to either bad seamanship of uncharted changes to the seabed and, however it occurs, at best one loses a bit of pride and worst the keel!
2020 provided grounding of a totally different nature, a grounding that made the entire county look around and embrace the coast, the sea, rivers and lakes of the UK. At one point it felt as if our crew would soon be breaking up the shop fittings to sell enough buoyant objects to meet the demand to 'get afloat‘. It was not just the UK either, Scandinavia was the second biggest export market last year for CW kit, not surprising given the absolutely stunning coastlines!
What was interesting for the CW team is how back to basics and grassroots this resurgence was, customers were painting up old boats, varnishing their dinghy and changing probably quite overdue rigging.
This resurgence of interest in all things water comes to a modernised marine world, there is so much better safety kit, clothing and navigation tech - even new ways to get afloat.
Wind the clock back 50 or 60 years and a lifejacket (for want of a better phrase) was beyond bulky making moving around a yacht hard work, performed below parr and often was a nod to safety protocol rather than real function. Today wearing an ergonomic well-fitted lifejacket is now second nature and generations of sailors don’t think twice about it.
Clothing has changed for the better, gone are heavy or leaky sailing jackets that trap in moisture, sent the last wave down your neck and do nothing to keep your woolly jumper dry. These days everything breathes, wicks and keeps the water firmly out. (there is nothing wrong with a warm woolly jumper mind!)
For years now we have also had the sat nav of the sea with electronic chart plotters and incredibly simple and accurate position finding thanks to GPS. In a tight spot with fog all around and a rocky shoreline for most of us this is a reassuring Godsend. Do we still need to know how to read a chart, plot a position and sail by the stars, we would argue yes! Relying on electronics does make our sport more accessible and easier and this needs to be embraced.
Since re-starting the name Captain Watts we have met so many people who knew O M Watts, sailed with him, worked for him and indeed stood on boat show stands. As a company we have one foot firmly in the past, we love classic boats, working on boats, restoring boats and sailing the old fashioned way. Taking in a time when getting afloat was more a case of rolling up sleeves than spending mega money.
Having been grounded for a year, where our waters were mostly Salcombe to Dartmouth with an excursion or two to the east coast our excitement levels are higher than ever.
A bit like the excited crowds than throbbed in to boat shows with parents buying a new barometer or searchlight and children wowed by Swallows and Amazons style sailing dinghies, last year we saw so many more people find or re-kindle a love for water and the sea.
We do miss those boat shows, they brought genuine interest and sharing of information. Now in 2021, we do it a different way, but the end game is still the same. To safely enjoy time afloat, a bring a smile to old sea dogs and new urchins alike. We are embracing the future but that does not mean we should forget the raw joy of simple things from the past - ask me today how to have fun and out comes the clinker tender with a gaff rig, not my low maintenance easy to transport SUP...
Fair winds and safe passage in 2021 to all.