An 8ft folding dinghy was my first boat.

At nearby Southend-on-Sea my fatjher and his Partner ran the Southend Motor navigation Co during the 1920’s, the 1930’s, and then from 1945 through to the end of the 1970’s In 1932, dad bought the 60ft l.o.a., 70-passenger TSMV Princess Maud, for £400, and thought she ought to have a dinghy to be accried aboard, so he bought one of Prout’s 8ft folding dingies. the princess maud was requisitioned “for Special Service under Vice Admiral Dover” on 27th May, 1940, and sent to Dunkirk from whence she did not return. But the dinghy didn’t go with her, and stayed in our garage at marlborough Road through the War until dad gave it to me as my first boat in May 1944. I was seven years old. I’ve never forgotten the excitement I had trundling it across Southchurch park to launch it into the Boating lake, and have lots of fun with my friends. For Christmas, 1944 I was given a copy of “Swallows & Amazons” by Arthur Ransome – and those two gifts enthused me into becoming a lifelong dinghy sailor.

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