Are you a sailboat snob? Are ‘stinkpots’ not your cup of tea? If that’s the case, what happens when a sailing instructor becomes the captain of a motor vessel?

During lockdown at Sutera Harbour Marina, we took a spin in a superyacht with Captain Paul Stanton of Island Princess, a Princess 88 on its way to be hauled out. We were keen to compare the experience with sailing Esper, our Oyster 435, in similar conditions.

With a shallower draft than ours, the Princess can get in close to shore, but she still has to follow all the same navigational advice, in that respect there is no difference. When a squall approached while we waited at anchor outside the boat yard, Paul worried about it hampering the lift out just as much as we would.

He was keen to get moving before the squall hit, but then had the unenviable task of manoeuvring the boat round a massive dry dock that the yard had decided to moor up right by the entrance to the slipway. This created a tight dog-leg to spin the boat round, literally on a six-pence.

He just made it, with good communication from the crew (including us!) stationed at each quarter. With no bow thrusters and stodgy manoeuvrability under engine, Esper would not have been able to reach the slip without dinghy assistance.

Paul started at age 14 in the Sea Cadets, then followed a circuitous path taking in cross channel ferries, the merchant navy and becoming a sailing instructor with Sunsail until he ended up skippering superyachts. He loves living in South East Asia and also admits that deep down inside he’d rather be sailing!

If you’re a sailor, do you dislike power boats? Are you a mono sailor who hates cats? Perhaps if you’re a local fisherman you despise sailors. And if you feel like this, where do you stand on ferries, tankers, cruise ships, etc.? Regardless of what vessel we are on, we all share the same waters and should remember to respect each other’s presence.

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