Haji is a family boat. She was built by my Grandad in his back garden, and was his and Nan’s home for years. My Dad has sailed Haji a lot over the past few years, and I have learnt a lot on board.
You will be walking along the pontoon, and there will be all the usual suspects: the Sun Odysseys, Océanis’, Hallberg Rassys, Feelings… and then there is Haji. She isn’t the prettiest of the lot, but man does she look loved, and lived in, and ready to cross Ocean after Ocean.
My favourite thing about being on board is all the history, everywhere you look. Little notes dotted around, in Grandad’s scrawl, telling you what or what not to do. Even the height of the ceiling was intended for him, just clearing his head. There are photos on the walls, and three illustrations from articles that Grandad wrote. To give you an insight into life on Haji back in the day, here is one of those same articles.
“It’s amazing how the compulsion to prove yourself right can persuade you to take foolhardy risks particularly when you are up against the opinions of your spouse.
We were at anchor in the intra coastal waterway off Titusville, Florida, and needed a new backstay, so we rowed the inflatable dinghy into the Marina to land at the boatyard. In the murky water, the Mate (Nan) noticed something floating – a brand-new stepladder, which we returned to shore.
After completing our business, I was rowing back to the boat with my wife, when she said; ‘there’s another stepladder in the water.’
The subsequent conversation went something like this (modified – it was a very hot day):
Skipper: ‘No it’s not, it’s an alligator.’
Mate: ‘Don’t be silly. This is a marina, you don’t find alligators in marinas.’
I decided not to exacerbate the argument, but rowed quietly towards the object, which was lying stern on to us on the way to the Marina entrance.
We drew alongside the object, which proved somewhat longer than our Redcrest inflatable dinghy. The mate had lost interest and was looking the other way, so J got her attention by shouting ‘look!’ and poking it with an oar. Fortunately, the alligator did not take offence, but merely woke up and got underway towards the marina entrance, whilst my wife screamed and dived for the bottom of the dinghy with her hands over her head.
Point made: Skipper right again!
Now, I have great respect for the comparative strength of Avons over there inflatables; however, the probable result of interaction between this large alligator and our ancient Redcrest did not take long to sink long and did not bear contemplation. Thus, it was a somewhat subdued skipper who followed the alligator (at a respectful distance) back out to the anchorage and the safety of our Rival yacht.
In my defence, I can only say I did not expect the alligator to be that big! They are not as aggressive as crocodiles, and, anyway, it was the only way to prove the Skipper right.”