PBO columnist Dave Selby’s voyage of Discovery reaches high and low in Wales
Sailing up a mountain
I’ve always wanted to go sailing up a mountain, but I never thought I’d actually do it. For, as every trailer- sailer sailor knows, it’s not the boat that limits your cruising range, but the vehicle that’s pulling it and the timidity of the person at the wheel. I’m timid.
Just about the only thing that terrifies me more than sailing is the thought of towing my boat. That’s why I sail everywhere and that’s why, until now, my cruising ground has been confined to a strip of East Coast from the Thames in the sub-tropical south to Suffolk in the far north: in other words, a couple of hours’ drive.
Frankly there’s more to the world, and the new Land Rover Discovery 4, which can tow up to 3,500kg, has opened mine up. I’m off to Clywedog Reservoir. In Land Rover lore this is a place of near mythic resonance, where in a 1980s ad a Land Rover winched itself up the highest dam in Britain. I’ve promised not to do that, but ever since then I’ve wanted to sail these waters high in the Powys hills of Wales.
For my weekend of Discovery I’m driving the range-leading 3-litre turbo-diesel SDV6 HSE. As any boat owner knows, one of the prime requirements in any ‘boat’ car is space; there has to be lots of it and it has to be versatile enough to accommodate ever-changing ratios of people to boat stuff. For this weekend, like any weekend on the water, I’ve packed everything you’d take on a twin-centre polar-and-desert expedition with a rainforest stop-over. I like the anchor points; great for tying down heavy objects like outboards. Better though is the endless versatility of seating and luggage space.
My Discovery 4 is the seven- seater version that has more combinations than a Rubik’s Cube, with any permutation of two to seven seats in three rows. With the two rear rows folded away there’s a completely flat 1.95m (76.8in) load bay. And with all seven seats occupied there’s still space behind for an outboard and some luggage.
For this weekend I’m also upgrading my boat, and after a 300-mile drive from eastest East England arrive at Swallow Boats in westest West Wales. I’m here to pick up one of Matt Newland’s stylish and innovative new 7m (23ft) BayCruiser trailer-sailers.
As a frequent solo sailor I’ve developed my own technique of hitching my trailer, which involves hitting it; that’s the signal to stop. The Discovery 4 is a wee bit more sophisticated, thanks to no less than five cameras*. Engage reverse and the touch-screen in the centre of the dash not only shows a rear-view of your tow hitch, but once the trailer comes in range it guides you on to the tow ball. If you want to be really clever you can lower the air-suspension to ‘access’ height, reverse back, raise to drive height – and you’re hitched without even getting out of the car.
Now we’re ready to go sailing up that mountain!
*Not all features are standard on all derivatives