Chief Boat Tester – Yachting Monthly

It’s been an interesting six months or so since I left the crew of Yachting Monthly magazine. I knew freelance work would have its twists and turns and be full of surprises, but when I left I didn’t think I’d be returning to the magazine so soon as a freelance member of the writing team. I’m a photographer, I love creating images with light, and I love photographing boats. Dick Durham used to refer to me as a “painter of light and shade”, I liked that. So if I enjoy writing with light so much, what am I doing playing with these tricky things called words? It’s a good question, and while I’m known to over-write almost every feature I tackle, what I write for magazines is cut down and subbed and usually well received.

I do enjoy writing, I wouldn’t type away to myself doing these blogs if I didn’t. I’ve written many features previously for lots of different publications, and when I set out to go freelance I hoped that writing would bring in some income. But I didn’t appreciate I’d be doing so much. If I had, I might have spent more time paying attention in English in school! Maybe if I had paid more attention I wouldn’t make the odd mistake here and here. Yes, that one was intentional.

I was speechless when Kieran, YM’s editor, asked me to take over the new boat test programme on a freelance basis. I thought our meeting a few months ago was about being their go-to man for boat test photography, I’d been doing it for 14 years, and there are few yachting photographers with that experience. I wasn’t expecting to be their one-stop shop for new boat tests. I was flattered but I was also reluctant to take on this position. It’s a great position of responsibility, readers have to know that I believe what I write is correct, and they have to trust my opinion. An opinion that may well influence their purchase of something big, shiny and very expensive. And let’s not mention legal battles with boat manufacturers eh?

Chris Beeson had big shoes to fill when he took over from James Jermain, I now had to fill Beeson’s. Chris and I go back to the times when I’d be up to my armpits in film processing chemistry in the darkrooms of Allsport. He has an excellent command of the English language and will pull words out of the air like “antimacassar” where I’d be fumbling to describe a cloth headrest. Although to my credit I did manage to squeeze the longest word in the English language into the hallowed pages of Yachting Monthly; pneupneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. A very long word for silicosis, the lung disease caused by fine sand particles, since you ask. Chris was supportive reminding me I’d spent most of my life sailing, I’ve done a lot of cruising, I am a boat owner and I’ve been on one or two boat tests before!

Chris thought I could do it, Kieran thought I could do it, but I was unsure. So I accepted on the basis that I do a couple of tests and see how we all get on. It seems they were right and I was wrong. My first boat test will be in the February 2014 issue of Yachting Monthly. Luckily the subbing team on YM are good, and they’ll be able to correct any of my grammatical howlers…hopefully.

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