September 20th

Sitting in Havelet Bay in Guernsey last Sunday, I fired off a post to the family WhatsApp group saying that the book claimed the bay was protected from south westerly gales – and that I hoped the book was right.

In the event there was a good deal of swell but I came to no harm.  Now I am in Poole Harbour sheltering under the lee of Brownsea Island while watching a whole succession of gales scream across the Windguru weather forecasting app.

The passage across the English Channel was fairly quick in force five-to-seven and I sailed right into Poole Harbour at 1:30 a.m, anchoring in the first likely spot at the eastern end of Brownsea with the intention of finding somewhere more sheltered in daylight.

However, since I’d slept a bit on the way and didn’t feel remotely tired, I stayed up reading until four – which meant that when the harbourmaster came calling at midday, I had only just finished breakfast.

“There are some vacant moorings round the corner, if you’d like to move,” he shouted against the wind, his launch bucking on the breakers kicked up by the mile-and-a-half fetch from the Godlingston shore. “You’d be more comfortable round there – besides, if you drag your anchor, you’ll be down amongst all those moorings across there.”

He gestured towards the Sandbanks shore and the most expensive property values in the world – with boats to match.

For a moment I wanted to say I would prefer my anchor to his moorings – after all, I knew what I was dealing with (my 20kg Rocna is two sizes heavier than the recommended one for my boat). But, of course the harbourmaster didn’t know that. What he did know was that the moorings round the corner were the heaviest in the harbour – all the boats on them were at least 14 metres, compared to Samsara’s 9.7. Besides, arguing with harbourmasters is just plain impolite – apart from being stupid.

The only trouble was, I had been on one of these moorings before: They had a small stainless steel shackle which you have to get a rope through. The best way to do this is for one person snare the buoy with the boathook, a second to reach over the side and thread the rope – and a third to keep the boat motoring gently ahead and in position next to the buoy so all this can be accomplished without any unseemly shouting or falling in the water.

I have to say that with the Storm Ali just setting in, it took me about two hours to perform all these three tasks simultaneously by myself. I think I can be forgiven for not getting up much earlier yesterday.

Meanwhile it looks as thought I have plenty of time: Scrolling through the Windguru timeline, the screen goes mostly purple at least once ever 24 hours. I had planned to go to the Southampton boat show on Sunday – the last day – when they sell off all the stuff they don’t want to take home. But it looks like being utter misery and I would have to go into Ocean Village Marina with their £37.05 fee (which would probably wipe out all the Boat Show savings).

So, I’m here until Monday – a mile from shore but with plenty to do.

For one thing, an email had arrived while I was in the Azores from a literary agent. Following the Daily Mail’s glowing review of my book Trident ( I wrote to all the London agents but they all wanted a formal submission which I couldn’t be bothered to do at the time.

Now that the Sheil Land agency has written apologising for not getting back to me sooner, it seems like rather a good idea.

Of course, if I’m going to do a synopsis and everything, it makes sense to go to some trouble – so why not update it? After all, what’s the point in a book set in the future (it was written in the 80’s and set in the 90’s) if they haven’t even got round to inventing the mobile phone?

So, I’ve had to rewrite the first 50 pages – and you have no idea of the changes that has involved.

All of which brings me to another little money-spinner: On the way down to Ponta Delgarda, I read Camino Island by John Grisham which is all about the rare book trade. I had no idea how much the limited run first editions of bestsellers could be worth – and behind my left ear I have six copies of the first Amazon edition of Trident and there can’t be more than a few dozen of those before I corrected all the mistakes. In fact, there can’t be more than about 300 altogether sold on Amazon which is tiny. I was thinking of selling them to anyone who came aboard for a coffee and showed interest. Now I shall keep them for myself – and, of course, if you have a copy, you might like to do the same.

Of course, if you haven’t, you can order it from Amazon on the tab above…