“I wonder if you can help me.”
“Maybe I could, or maybe I couldn’t,” was the very Welsh reply. “What is it you are wanting?”
“Would you happen to know of any boats for sale?”
It was a question the young man had asked many times before, and always with the same result. Nothing suited. There was no shortage of boats, but every time there was a problem, either they were too big or too small or as one honest broker—and yes there is such a thing—remarked, “Don’t buy her. She will kill you.” It had been a long depressing catalogue of scrabbling about fusty old tore-outs (rotten timber gleaming with suspiciously fresh paint), ugly ducklings, and unspeakable lifeboat conversions. So there was no reason to suppose that this time would be any different.
“What kind of boat is it you are looking for?” with barely concealed cupidity; for an outsider with money to burn in the wilds of the Isle of Anglesey was akin to manna from Heaven.
“Something like that,” said the innocent, pointing out a dainty white cutter on her mooring in Holyhead harbour.
“Well,” said he “I believe she may just be for sale.” He may well have added—but this might just be imagining—“You had better be quick, she is not on the market yet.”
An Irish horse dealer could not have done it better.
So began, in 1973, Martin O’Scannall’s love affair with Sauntress, voted in 2013 one of Classic Boat magazine’s Top 250 Boats.
Here, in a series of delightful, engaging episodes ranging from Anglesey to Galicia by way of the West Country, the East Coast, the Netherlands, Norway and south-west Ireland, is what it is like to restore and sail—and be possessed by—a modest yet glorious 28ft gaffer dating from the golden age of Edwardian yachting.