I joined YBW probably around the time my boat was taken to southern France, by summer 1998. One of my earliest real-life contacts was Coliholic, and i helped him move his powerboat from Yarmouth to King’s Lynn. I also met JFM in er Lymington around then, I think. I was living in a roomy apartment in Central London at the time, so i took the bold step of inviting round a load (maybe 40 or so) hitherto unseen forumites (as well as JFM and Coliholic), probably around NYear 99 during the London Boat Show. And it was a very jolly do, starting friendships that I know continue to this day. I had several such parties, at least one including the sadly late Haydn of this parish, with his godawfully graphic requests for help and advice regarding his exploding bog. Another time that fabulously fool friend Tom passed away, truly sad and around 10 years ago now. But I suppose that Steve101 and Webby and many other variously sensible/loon contributors made it great fun. I kinda feel that some rot set in with Dateslip - it kept moronic but much-frequented posts to the top, and that gave the impression of an unchanging non-dynamic forum. It still does. Facebook doesn’t do it - new stuff is always above old stuff - that’s how we behave. We don’t say “no there hasn’t been anything more newsworthy in the last 100 years than the Nazis and 9/11 and that’s why those threads are top of the list” do we? No… except in YBW.

Anyway, aside from my carping, I think that some of the brightest boatie types (and probably brightest anyway) in the UK swapped info and jokes in a way that was unique - these days other “social media” holds sway - but I thihk that at least some of that YBW information exchange with real-life meet-up options remains an attractive and powerful feature of YBW. The stupid lounge was (IMHO) a culprit that split attention away from the main strips of yotties OR raggies. I loved questions about some possible merc runabout in the middle of a boating forum - it reflected what an ideal bar would be like - fluttering between boaty and not-boaty conversations, sometimes hurling back earlier stuff to particular contributors, and almost as 100% fun. I went sailing full-time in 2007, and I think those first ten years of YBW might have been YBW’s heyday, MirabellaV oh gawd, jimi’s holding tank …. but then I would think that, wouldn’t I? There’s lots of spin-off forums now, and just squllions of registered users - I heard of boat salespeople just referring newbies to YBW and “they’ll help sort you out” …. and it did, frequently. So perhaps YBW can continue to induce the wowser levels of helpful knowledge that was certainly on offer, and perhaps it still does. I really hope so.

Matts/tcm/t21 excuse typos ..