An old friend of mine once advised me never to buy things that fly, float or foal. Horses are especially pernicious because they have this terrible habit of eating while you are asleep.
In that respect they are even worse than teenage children. But the temptation is always to lavish a considerable sum on a sailing boat. Why bother when you could rent one instead? After all, there are only two happy days in the life of a boat owner: the day you buy one, and the day you sell it.
But if you want to sail - and there are few better cruising grounds than these waters - where can you find a reasonable boat in the UAE for hire? Look no further than Erika Lessman, who is the proud captain of a Swan 42 run by Abu Dhabi Yacht Charter. She is a Brazilian who has come here to sail. "Why am I not in Brazil?" she asked. "Safer here."
Last week she took us for a sail on her boat. She organises activities including sunset cruises, day racing, sailing lessons and even ladies-only events. We set off from the small marina by the Havana Cafe opposite Marina Mall. There were about eight of us on board, including an Etihad Airways pilot who once circumnavigated the globe in a sailboat. When not in the air, he likes to be on the water.
Erika carefully piloted the boat through the jet skis, then we hit the open water. The wind was stronger than expected and we overtook a shoal of laser boats, then ran diagonally along the Abu Dhabi Corniche. It is a fine sight from the sea. You can choose whether you helm, trim the sails or sit with your seat over the side like one of the Kennedys at Hyannis Port. This latter approach can be dangerous, because you might get drowned by a wave, but it's also exhilarating.
After an hour's reaching up the coast, we turned back with the wind behind us. There was a debate as to whether to raise the spinnaker, but as often happens, it was determined not to bother.
So we raced back, kept a look out for dolphins and realised that once we got back to port we could go straight for a shisha and not have to swab the decks or fold the sails.
The Quote: "If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable." Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman philosopher, statesman and humorist.