About Me – 2009

A & J SUMMER 07

My name is Adrian Hall. I have been married to Janine for 25 years. We have two daughters, Katharine Alexandra and Rebecca Isabel. Hence the boat name -KIRA- a simple anagram of their names. Not very imaginative I know, but it sounds vaguely Polynesian and Janine refused to entertain Turangalila, my preferred name. We live in Sittingbourne, a town on the North Kent coast in South East England.

I have worked as an NHS GP in Sittingbourne for the last 20 years. I have absolutely no boat building experience, and only limited sailing experience, so why do I find myself building a 38 foot catamaran in my back garden, with a dream of sailing off into the blue yonder?

I was born and bred in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire. Ashby is a market town in pretty much the geographical centre of England. You can’t get any further from the sea. (Pedantry corner: I believe that Meriden, near Coventry is at the true centre). The only contact with the sea was holiday trips in the family caravan, or the odd day trip to Skegness.

I studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, and trained to be a GP in and around the Medway Towns, Kent. We were married in Harrogate, Yorkshire in 1984.

The only suggestion of an adventurous spirit was that in the late 80s my wife and I took 2 years out of the rat race and built a tandem. We cycled to New Zealand, via Egypt, Jordan, India, Nepal, Thailand and Malaysia. After spending 6 months being a GP in Taupo, New Zealand, we returned to the UK.

Over the next 20 years we both threw ourselves into family life, and I slowly established myself as a family doctor. I was bitten by the sailing bug during a night shift on call. My driver was a sailing nut who over the 6 hour shift managed to enthuse me with all things nautical. I promptly started to subscribe to Practical Boat Owner magazine and started reading anything to do with sailing or cruising.

Voyaging on a Small Income by Annie Hill changed my life.

I completed the RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper courses. I have even crossed the Bay of Biscay on an astronavigation course. We have had a couple of flotilla holidays in Greece and Turkey. I bought my first boat, a 21 foot bilge keeler, about 10 years ago.

We didn’t sail the boat much. The girls didn’t enjoy our sailing trips and were frightened when the boat heeled. The boat looked very sad and neglected towards the end. I still regard myself as a sailing novice.

Inevitably your kids grow up, and don’t need you anymore. Katharine is at a drama college in London, and Rebecca completes her A levels this summer. She will probably follow her sister into the theatre arts.

I was at a stage when I had achieved everything that I had wanted in my medical career. Many GPs fill the void by venturing into medical management and politics. I tried that and hated every minute. Sadly some turn to alcohol. A couple of my work colleagues had health scares which brought things further into focus.

Perhaps it was the male menopause or perhaps the mid-life crisis, I don’t know. I was following an Arriva bus in a Sittingbourne traffic jam. On the back there was a poster saying “Would You Like To Drive This Bus?”. I thought briefly that perhaps I might apply.

As John Lennon once wrote “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”. The line could have been written about me.

It was clear that I  needed a project to get me out of the rut. Like Saul on the road to Damascus, it suddenly became clear.....

Instead of dreaming about building and sailing boats, why not simply go ahead and do it?

We were on a family holiday to Jamaica. One of the touristy things to do in Jamaica is to climb Dunns River Falls. I remember Lesley Judd climbing the Falls in the Blue Peter Summer Expedition in the early 70‘s. (I’m afraid you have to have experienced an English childhood for any of this to make sense). On our trip we were taken to and from The Falls on a Wharram catamaran. I was smitten.

On our return, I bought the Wharram design book. Packed full of New Age rubbish, but the design philosophy made sense. I flicked through the pages and found a drawing of the Tiki 38 at the back. I decided to build one. All done and dusted in under 2 minutes! It has taken months and months to decide on a name, a couple of years to organise the build, but only 2 minutes to decide on the design.

My practice colleagues were eventually worn into submission by my continual moaning. They have agreed to take on an additional GP partner, which has allowed me to drop my commitment to the practice to 3 days a week. Count them, thats 4 whole days of boat building a week! The price is a sizeable drop in income but we shall have enough to get by. What more do you need? I have a blissfully happy marriage, two beautiful,well-balanced children, a boat in the garden, and a dream to fulfill.

In January of 2009 I turned 50. It wasn’t a problem for me. By way of celebration we took a mini break down to Falmouth, Cornwall in the far South West of England. James Wharram Designs is based nearby. We didn’t have the privilege of meeting James or Hanneke, as they were busy completing their Lapita voyage. We had a nice chat with a rather frail Ruth Wharram.

I came home with a set of Tiki 38 plans (No.123).

I have never built a boat before so it will be a baptism of fire having to build two in succession. I’m confident that I have the carpentry skills to cope with the challenge. I love working out the best way of completing any given task. I often spend longer building jigs than I do in shaping wood. James Wharram says that some builders are happy just nailing a few bits of wood together, others treat each bit of timber as a piece of wood sculpture. I perhaps lean towards the latter end of the spectrum. As I embark on the project I am most worried about lofting and the glassing of the hulls. When I’ve finished the project I’ll let you know the most difficult bits. Glassing and lofting may be a piece of cake, and fashioning the beam troughs a real killer.

I aim to achieve a real yacht finish worthy of the Wharram name. It is my ambition for a passer-by to ask “is she made of GRP?”

It is the mental side of the project that concerns me most. I know what I am like. My default status is set to “lazy”. However I am determined to see this project through and work towards the dream. Inspired by Neil Hawksford’s blog of building Gleda, I have decided to keep a diary too. No cyber-bullying please. I have no pearls of wisdom to spread around the globe, the blog is more of an act of self indulgence on my part. Perhaps the thought of letting down the handful of people who might follow this diary may help me knuckle down to the task in hand. At times I have a tendency to doubt my abilities, so if you feel I’m drifting that way please bring me back to my senses.

Wish me luck.

Adrian Hall

June 2009.