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Costa Blanca, Spain

First a little history….

I have been around boats and water most of my life – since the age of 16 – be it water-skiing competitions, power boat racing, dinghy racing, windsurf racing, or cruiser racing. I started water skiing in 1966, leading to national competitions, and skied the English Channel twice, both ways. This led me in to power boat racing, both in the UK and European competitions.


Getting married put an end to weekends away with the team!!! Children arrived, so then I started sailing dinghies, first a GP14 with the family, and also a Laser. But, still having the ‘need for speed’, I eventually bought a Fireball (a fast, 2-man, trapeze boat), and started racing again, taking part in the Fireball National events, including Abersoch in Wales, in the early ‘80s. My best result, out of a fleet of about 45, was 7th overall. I started sailing bigger boats around 1990, crewing in regattas, mostly off the North East, and later the South coast of the UK, taking part in the ‘Round the Island’ race several times.

Having secured my Competent Crew and Coastal Skipper sailing certificates, I bought my first sailing cruiser, a Verl Islander 33, in 1994. Over the years, via both power boating and sailing, I covered most of the inland and coastal waters of the UK, with several cross channel and North Sea passages.

I arrived in Spain in 2010, and soon realised I could not possibly live next to the Mediterranean, without being on the water! I bought a Sadler 34 and had it shipped down from the UK, with the full intention of finding two partners, to help share the costs. Sadly, this did not work out, mainly due to the fact that its layout did not lend itself to Mediterranean cruising, so I sold the boat some three years later.

How did you find the CBYA…?

Totally by accident really (and very luckily, I may add)!! In May 2010, I saw an advert in the Costa Blanca News – the CBYA were looking for new members. Brilliant, so having just arrived in Spain, I soon made new and like-minded friends.

What was a memorable first experience of the CBYA?

My first and memorable event was a social night in Moraira, arranged by Rachel Garnham, in a small bar, The Bus Stop. There were about two dozen members there for drinks and a menu del dia. We played a game of throwing loops onto a board – simple and good fun. I believe at this time the CBYA had about 80 members. The monthly social gathering grew in popularity, and soon we had 40 members sitting at one long table – so some members were sitting outside the bar at both ends!

At this time, the boating/sailing activities were limited to the Powerboat and Sailing Cruiser sections. There were regular sailing regattas, which I would take part in, usually on TrickyD, but also with Blue Chip, Feels Great, Emma Louise and Gannocks. We also had regular raft-ups during the summer months with other boats – both power and sail. We even had a floating bar….!!

There were social events on three Mondays during a month. The best and most popular was in Jávea at the Club Náutico restaurant; also in Calpe, usually for an interesting member’s presentation, followed by a meal at Draculas; and in Moraira.

Since my early days, the club has grown in other areas, with the TOMs, courtesy of RCN Calpe, the Dinghy section, at El Portet, Moriara, and the Charter Day cruising, originally started by Karlheinz Witte, who sadly died two years ago, but now currently organised by myself.  Whilst having thoroughly enjoyed sailing on the TOMs and the Dinghies, after two operations on my back, I now feel ducking and diving under booms, is possibly a thing of the past for me!!

What was your role and how did it change over the years?

During the period 2014-2018, I did my time, I’m proud to say, serving on the Committee, acting as the New Website Coordinator/Manager. I now serve as the organiser and skipper of the CBYA Cruiser Charter days. In this role I supervised the daring Rescue of the Flamingo, which is well documented in the CBYA News Letter dated 4th November 2019. See

Give us an amusing anecdote!

Another interesting event was sailing on Gannocks for the first time, in a regatta at Calpe. Skipper Mike obviously didn’t take his racing too seriously. With four of us crewing, we had just crossed the start line, when Mike told me to take the helm. He then disappeared down below, eventually re-appearing some 15 minutes later, with hot pizzas for us all!!

What are your hopes for the future of the CBYA?

Some 10 years on, the CBYA now has approaching 350 members, which is fantastic, well done to all those who now ‘helm the ship’ and all the various helpers, without them the club simply would not function.

As we are all aware, we are a predominantly a boating/sailing club, so we constantly need more boat owner members, with boats of any description, who are in need of crew, and who are happy to take members out, whether experienced or not.

The once thriving social section has sadly taken a serious hit during 2020 due to COVID-19. But hopefully when this is behind us, members will be confident once again to gather and socialise at CBYA events.

It is difficult to comment on the future of the CBYA at the current state of the pandemic. Personally, I want to try to carry on as near normal as possible: life is for living, obviously with greater care, taking all precautions, and of course staying within the law. Social gatherings indoors, during the following autumn/winter months will clearly be tricky.

But in my view, there is no better, safer, healthier, COVID-free place to be, than having fun out on the water!


Many thanks Graham!


Comments (7)

Graham, what a dark horse you are. Very interesting article and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Water skiing across the channel – wow!

Great interview Graham. What a man of many talents.

I remember sailing with you on Gannocks with you and sharing the pizza. Happy days

Hi Graham, a very long and interesting career on the water, good for you!! X Helma

Such a variety of experiences. The most impressive being the skiing across the English Channel…… respect.

Thank you Graham for that account of your most impressive experiences on the water! Whew. – a shedload of wonderful memories! The CBYA is fortunate to have you ´on board´. You have done so well recovering from your serious back troubles. I look forward to joining one of your day charters again in the New Year..
Every good wish , Brenda

Thanks to all for your comments, much appreciated.
Brenda, now you know why I have my back problems…!! Adventurous, miss spent younger years…….

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