Andrew – the tale so far

Andrew SimpsonI was born in India during the Second World War. My family was repatriated to the UK when I was six years old. A year later, I took my first steps along what was to prove a somewhat eccentric educational path. My mother joined the staff of a school that specialised in the care of troubled children – some the victims of parental mistreatment, others traumatised by the horrors of the war. Part of the deal my mother struck was that my scholastic needs should be included in her earnings, so I became a pupil there, and a very contented one at that. For it was a wonderfully humane place to be.

Five happy years passed. Then, in stark contrast to that comforting environment, 1953 saw me landing me on the deck of the training ship Mercury – an establishment having similarity in both appearance and, to some extent, actuality with a prison hulk. Life suddenly became tough but not without benefit. Such places kindle a flair for survival, though I didn't always appreciate its merits back then. Although mindless at times, it was never boring. More importantly, for a lad who had spent much of his boyhood in landlocked Buckinghamshire, I learned how to sail – and much else besides in the seamanship line.

A few weeks prior to my seventeenth birthday I signed on as an officer cadet in the Merchant Navy, travelling the world and getting paid for it. This I pursued with considerable enjoyment until 1962 when, almost accidentally, I swallowed the anchor and joined the sales force of an aluminium company.

First married in 1968, and with son Angus making an unexpected appearance soon after, I started designing boats – one of which attracted enough positive attention in the 1970 Round Britain and Ireland double-handed race to persuade me to take it up as a career. In 1974, subseqent to the miners' strike that did so much damage to so many small businesses, my then wife and I sailed our trimaran Whisky Jack to the United States. The children (now including Claire) following by air.

We lived and worked in Texas until 1978, during which time I designed and built boats and also contributed articles to many of the American yachting magazines. In 1978 I was divorced and, some months later, met Chele who has been my wife, friend and most agreeable sailing companion ever since. I must confess that she was the owner of a 40 foot sailboat which in no way detracted from her charms. We sailed to the West Indies where we dallied for nearly a year.

Chele had never been to Europe before, which seemed a good enough reason to return to the UK in 1979. There I continued designing and started a boatbuilding and repair business, eventually added yacht surveying to my activities. In 2003 Angus took over the business which continues to this day.

When we're not sailing, we base ourselves in Poole, a busy harbour town on England's south coast. For nearly seven years I was Associate Editor of Practical Boat Owner – Britain's most widely read sailing magazine. Although now a freelance journalist, I’ve been a regular contributor ever since – my monthly column for PBO having now run continuously for over sixteen years.

My other writing includes a number of books and some radio plays for the BBC – the latter under the pen name Andrew Lind.

My blogs have been moved to another website: offshore-sailor.com. For the latest of these, please follow this link: http://www.offshore-sailor.com/blog/posts/shore-leave/