A Boy and His Boat: A Story of Sailing, Creativity, and Giving Back

The story of a boy’s love of the ocean and sailing experiences inspired him to build a 60-foot, classically styled, sailing-yacht for future young sailors to experience

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Boating stories have a special place in history. Great heroes who built ships and fleets would set sail on perilous adventures and live to tell tales of the turbulent seas! While Jason and the Argonauts might be an adventurous legend, we have people who are just as brave.

Many years ago, a young boy in the UK was given the opportunity to step aboard boats and sail. Then called the London Sailing Project (now called the Rona Sailing Project), this nautically driven charity sought to introduce the world of sailing to socio-economically disadvantaged kids who wouldn’t have had the chance to sail otherwise. Through this charity, a spark was ignited and that boy fell in love with the ocean, sailing, and everything surrounding it.

That boy’s name is Mike Ludgrove. He would go on to dedicate a lot to the boating world, but recently he finished a project that binds the dreams of a child with the dreams of a thankful adult.

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Building a classic sailboat

No longer a little boy, in the beginning of 2002, Mike and a few fellow boatmakers had an idea. They wanted to build a boat. Not just a boat, a very large, classic one. So they got to work.

Reminiscent of Noah building his ark, the labor was long. Though the idea of the screw wasn’t around until well after Noah (200 B.C.) and the ark wasn’t receiving international wood shipments, modern building technology and shipment methods didn’t make the project less daunting. Over the course of 12 long years, Mike and his crew labored away on what would become a 60-foot, classically styled, sailing-yacht named Helena.

In the beginning, he estimated that the project would take three years and cost around 500,000 UK Pounds. At the end, it ended up costing nearly 1.3 million. He and his wife sold their home in Exeter and their business to help Helena become a reality. Undeterred, Mike’s passion blazed fervently.

From the onset, he summed up his idea, saying, “The aim was always to build something of supreme beauty, in a manner not possible when working to commercial constraints.”

Constraints notwithstanding, he mentioned the chance he was given to sail as a young boy and the passion it built in him. His goal in Helena is to offer the same opportunities to young future sailors who might’ve never set sail otherwise.

The final touches are in progress and they expect to have Helena in the water by April 2018. We’re looking forward to seeing that happen. Stories are great, but it’s people like Mike who are modern heroes in a world where heroes are increasingly scarce.

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This article was written by MyBoatLife.com editorial staff.
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