A look back at 2020

Published on December 26th, 2020

From liveaboards in lockdown to DIY at home, dramatic escapes and amazing adventures, here are some of highlights from 2020 from Practical Boat Owner magazine…


COVID-19 may have put a spanner in the sailing this year but it didn’t stop the influx of amazing stories from DIY-ers, liveaboards and cruisers across the globe. Thank you for battling through 2020 with a drill in your hand, a wreck in your yard and a grin on your face. You’ve certainly kept us on our toes!

January – tough lessons
January was all about lessons learned at sea. Dhara Thompson reflects on a challenging autumn voyage to Spain, “We slipped out of Brighton Marina in early October intending to make a non-stop passage to A Coruña. We finally arrived in Baiona a month later, but what a lot of lessons Biscay and the Brittany Coast had taught me!”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Roger Hughes takes some friends out sailing for the first time and gives them a valuable insight into the many things that can go wrong on a complicated cruising boat.

February – decades of design
We took a trip down memory lane in time in February to look at the nostalgic, ground-breaking and innovative boat designs of the past 70 years. From the brand new fibreglass and plywood constructions of the Fifties to the enduring classics of the Eighties and the launch of a legion of new 58-60ft designs of the 2010s, causing some observers to note that ‘60 had become the new 40’.

March – last cruise before lockdown
On the eve of the Covid lockdown, Max Liberson decides it’s now or never if he wants to get his gaff-cutter Wendy May from Canvey Island to her new home in Newport, South Wales. The problem is, he needs to also tow a 10ft wooden dinghy. Wendy herself is only 26ft and the forecast conditions are pretty choppy. The solution? A DIY anti-surf device, which works a treat.

April – 100+ DIY ideas from home
In normal times we’d cover a lot of ground in Practical Boat Owner, but in lockdown conditions it made sense to hone-in on the projects you can complete at home. We got to work, and by the end of the month had well over 100 projects and counting. Whether engines, canvaswork, woodwork or ropework, we found plenty of DIY ideas to keep you busy in the workshop.

For the most ambitious, there’s the eight-part series on building your own Nigel Irens 14ft rowing/sailing skiff with free downloadable plans, right down to the smaller projects such as How to make a simple small boat shower or how to make a splicing fid from a pen. For anyone with an interest in electronics, don’t miss the 4,000-word epic Build your own electric engine. Click here to view all 100+ DIY ideas from home

May – back on the water for some
Welcome news came in mid-May when sailing clubs and marinas in England were told they could open, following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions. However, overnight stays on boats weren’t permitted. John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority, thanked private boat owners for continuing to pay their tolls during the coronavirus lockdown, allowing them to continue the essential work needed for their safe return.

Of course, many sailing clubs were still unable to open, so we switched our focus to Amazing Adventures – cruising stories to inspire those stuck at home. Particularly popular was the story of unorthodox British designer, James Wharram, who takes his family and fans around the world in his handcrafted catamaran, Spirit of Gaia. – Full story

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