10 JANUARY 1964, Page 29

Buying a Boat

By LESLIE ADRIAN IT is as easy to buy the wrong boat as it is to marry the wrong woman. A man can fall in love with both and live to re- gret it, for a trim shape

and attractively painted ex- -1 terior can hide many vices. And though many a light- For the newcomer to sailing, the International Boat Show, which attracts an annual post- Christmas pilgrimage to Earls Court, is as good a place as any to begin a boating courtship. 1 here are 563 craft on display this year, ranging from £23 to £24,500 in price and from 71 ft. to 51 ft. in length. A Boating Advice Bureau, staffed by impartial experts, offers advice on the suitability and disadvantages of any of the

• Products on show, and at the stand occupied by the Royal Yachting Association, the authority Which governs yacht racing in Britain, the novice Who wishes to take up racing can learn which Classes of sailing boat are sailed by clubs near his home.

This is important. In the past, may an en- thusiast has bought a boat before joining a club, only to find that although he, as a prospective member, is welcomed, the boat of his choice is not. The club is not being perverse. Its purpose is to foster the sport of racing. in small boats and it quite reasonably restricts the types of dinghies which may be sailed so as to provide a fair basis for competition. Few clubs nowadays have a 'menagerie' class open to all types.

The Royal Yachting Association administers ten classes of dinghies, among them the highly p°Pular 13-ft. Enterprise (several examples of which are on show) and the 12-ft. Firefly (made by Fairey Marine), both costhig under £200, the slightly more expensive 14-ft. Merlin-Rocket, and that `Rolls-Royce' of dinghies, the International ourteen .(also 14 ft. and, like the Merlin, avail- -le from a number of builders), which is an out-and-out racing machine and can cost up to £400 or more. There arc many other equally PoPular self-administered classes, some suitable for family picnics as well as racing: the Yachting IVor/d-sponsored GP Fourteen, the Ian Proctor- designed Gull (ipproved by the RYA), and the 'ft. Wayfarer, an open-centreboard sailing dinghy whose stout construction and remarkable seaworthiness were demonstrated last August on i,650-mile Dye, voyage ho from Scotland to Iceland. Both 'rank o undertook this adventurous trip, and L'd his boat, Wanderer, are at the show. I Ideall he and gy, t in newcomer to sailing should in join

Club a experience as a crew other

I,eople's boats before he buys a craft of his own. It is experience of this kind in association with practised sailors that will best teach him to recog- nise a good, soundly constructed and well‘finished craft for himself. But not every enthusiast wants race and there are some who prefer to cruise rita their own rather than as members of a club. is to safeguard the interests of such people NI these that the Ship and Boat Builders' Show Federation, which organises the Boat tA(3sv under the sponsorship of the Daily Pro.s.v, recently introduced a code of construe-

tion for boats up to 20 ft. long. The code does not cover the nationally recognised classes of racing dinghies, as these are already governed by stringent class rules, but for other craft it sets a welcome standard of quality, backed by a system of inspection and the award of a plaque of approval, which should safeguard future boat- buyers against some of the jerry-built abomina- tions which have been finding their way on to the market in recent years.

The Boat Show is, of course, more than just a shop window for boats. It provides an annual showcase for manufacturers of many hundreds of associated products: ropes and rigging, paints and varnishes, flags and fenders, marine engines, waterproof clothing, lifejackets, compasses and the rest. Some have been tested and are recom- mended by competent authorities. A Which? report on lifejackets, for instance (July, 1962), found that only four out of twenty-six met a set of basic requirements laid down by the Con- sumers' Association. But only three of the life- jackets on the market today carry the BSI Kitemark.

The boat-building industry, like most others, has its share of shoddy products. The ability to recognise their inferiority is something every newcomer to sailing should develop in his own interest. There arc many thousands of experi- enced boat-owners in clubs throughout the country who would be pleased to assist him.

It is always difficult to decide whether the label `This garment must be dry-cleaned' inspires joy or dread in the shopper's heart. On the one hand it means less washing, on the other, charting the dark waters of what can and what cannot be safely cleaned. . , Belts and buttons are at the top of the danger list. Belts with the backings stuck, and not stitched, on to the fabric cannot be cleaned with- out disintegrating. As for buttons, the National Federation of Dyers and Cleaners say that most buttons made by British manufacturers can be satisfactorily cleaned, but the information doesn't seem to have seeped through to their members.

Sonic cleaners, notably Sketchley's, remove and replace the buttons, but any other cleaner that I have tried either tells the customer to re- move the buttons herself or else cuts them oil and announces they have been lost. Buttons that can never be cleaned, even `by the best-intentioned firm, include those made of poly- styrene, those with cheap 'loose' colour, which can be detected by scratching the back, when a different colour will appear, varnished wooden buttons and buttons stuck together with an ad- hesive.

PVC comes to pieces in cleaning fluid and is rarely used for trimmings on winter garments for that reason. It is essential, though, to check that leather trimmings really are leather and not PVC. It is safest to remove interlinings, too, as there are a lot of interlinings masquerading as Vilene which do not have Vilene's cleanable properties.

Simulated fur can cause trouble and so can our old friend the man-made fibre if the cleaner can't identify which fibre it is. However, there is a close liaison between manufacturers and the Dyers and Cleaners Research Organisation, who are perpetually working on these problems. And who knows? We may one day have a clear, ex- plicit labelling system which will tell the cleaner exactly what he is cleaning. After that, it remains only to find a positively indestructible button and the sight of an unwashable garment need no longer strike terror to the heart.