Magazine article The Spectator

Boat People

Magazine article The Spectator

Boat People

Article excerpt

On board S/Y Bushido We hit a hurricane while sailing off the coast of the Riviera last week, or, to be more precise, a hurricane called Tim Hoare hit us. I have never in my long life met anyone quite like Tim. The words tumble out so fast, enwrapped in alliteration and so clogged with onomatopoeia, that a foreign-born like me misses about three out of every four words. Bursting with bombast, generously pronouncing Bushido among the most beautiful boats afloat, Tim then casually informed us how his private jet had an engine blow up in flight and how for 20 long minutes they looked like goners. Even worse, he was flying alone and could see the two pilots struggling to control a wildly bucking aircraft (one engine had exploded and the pieces had got into the rotor, forcing the plane to fly in circles). He fortunately made it down somewhere near Avignon and joined us in St Tropez for a sumptuous dinner. For the next three days, he did not draw a breath, and after he flew back to London the rest of us felt like Katrina survivors.

Mind you, every boat needs a Tim on board because sitting on one can get rather boring. Tim and Nick Scott, probably Britain's greatest raconteur and mimic, are a one-two punch I defy any yacht owner to equal. Also on board were the ecdemomanic Bismarcks, and in order to save you a trip to the dictionary, ecdemomania is an abnormal compulsion to travel. Chantal Hanover and the mother of my children completed the group. Well, all I can say is that it's going to be a long time before another trip like this one comes along, except, that is, if Tim and Nick decide that it's time for premature evacuation from London and get back on board.

And speaking of premature evacuation, I wish Rising Sun, Octopus and Tatoosh would evacuate the Med and go back where I can't see them, somewhere far away like between New Zealand and South America. Rising Sun belongs to that Oracle fellow Larry Ellison, who obviously needs a very big boat to make up for his inferiority complex. Or perhaps he built such an ugly yacht for the same reason that ladies of the 18th century used to have monkeys draped around their shoulders - to make them look less ugly by comparison. Four hundred and fifty-two feet long, with a large glass-enclosed superstructure, it is powered by - get this - 48,000 horsepower. By comparison, my 125-footer is powered by the wind, and a tiny 350 horsepower diesel. …

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