by Des Ryan
Sailing being a kind of music in itself, sailing and music seem to go together as smoothly as Harley and Davidson. It's not a rare thing to find that many of your fellow boats in an anchorage have some kind of musical instrument. So British musician Phil Beer's busy schedule is stopping this year so that he can take time out for a 'Folkboat Venture' - a series of five-day music and sailing workshops, for which you need only enthusiasm, not expertise, in either discipline.
Pegasus - the base for a music and sailing venture
He is inviting folk-lovers – with or without proven sealegs – to join him on board either the eight-berth Pegasus or the 12-berth Tectona to see where the mood and the wind takes them, sailing out of Plymouth.
Phil Beer in sea shanty mode
'It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a big undertaking,' Phil admitted to the local West Morning News. He has already run a couple trial runs last year, which were highly successful.
'Anyway,' he said, 'half the places are already booked.'
He got hooked on sailing and seafaring generally after fulfilling a lifelong dream by crewing on Pegasus in the famous Tall Ships Race in 2009. The 74ft Bristol-built wooden cutter – owned by the educational Island Trust – crossed the finishing line in second place in its class after a voyage of 4,500 nautical miles visiting 12 countries.
The Folkboat journeys – with a skipper, first mate and Phil as crew – will be slightly less ambitious in terms of distance, but offering great opportunities to learn how to sail and participate in folk sessions, even if you are a complete novice in both. If you have experience of either, then that works too.
'The whole point is that you don’t have to be a musician or a sailor; but you can join in with both and have a good time. But if you don’t participate it could be a bit tedious! By the end everyone should be able to at least steer the boat' says Phil.
He reveals that you could end up over in France or on Scilly, or maybe just around the corner at Fowey, depending on the weather and sea conditions.
'The Pegasus eats bad weather and a bit of rough sea can be more fun. Even seasoned sailors can get seasick, but the point is that you learned to overcome it quickly and then it’s no issue at all.'
Every day of each journey – running in June and August – promises at least two hours of musical shenanigans on board or shore, sometimes with some of Phil’s many folk world friends as special guests.
He sees the Folkboat as a natural mix of his two loves, folk music and sailing. As a lover of both folk music and sailing, so do I. There should be more of it!
For more details about the Folkboat sailings, visit philbeer.co.uk.
Thanks to Western Morining News for their contributions for this story.