Nowadays Thalassa is more of a cruising boat and her berth is at the Hardway moorings (Gosport Boatyard), which is where I was lucky enough to join Richard as he set off for Brittany via Dartmouth. It was an afternoon and early evening sail catching the tide to Yarmouth and Thalassa behaved like a well-mannered thoroughbred. Although her gear is old it’s all solid and in good working order. She has her idiosyncrasies, which old wooden boat fans learn to love, and Richard points out that “she is not an easy boat to handle, there’s no reverse to speak of, the prop just acts as a brake. Being quarter mounted it gives no prop walk in astern and no wash over the rudder in ahead (she cannot be turned on her keel); we tend to come alongside and warp ourselves in.”
    Still, as long as you are prepared for these things, it’s not a problem and I love the way she quietly and efficiently took us tacking down to Yarmouth in three and a half hours (19nM). I especially like her cockpit, which is just the right size (for six to sit at sundowners) and has everything within easy reach. Its sides are high enough to cover your kidneys when the cooler breezes blow and the companion is well designed for a sea boat. “
    One of the great things about a heavy boat is that people are less likely to be seasick,” Richard says, “she just goes through the waves. And, although there’s a lot of water on deck, she’s actually quite dry.”
    Supper aboard is prepared in Sandison’s famous galley forward, though our quiches are warmed in a new Plastimo oven. It’s eaten in the main saloon, with bunks above the benches, and with its gimballed table. The bulkheads are festooned with little RORC bronze medals with their seahorse emblems – testament to her doing days of glory. We say grace, which seems even more appropriate than usual.
    Over 40 years Thalassa and Richard, 71, have seen each other through thick and thin: “I think when things were difficult at work she was the thing that kept me sane,” he says seriously.
    He takes 12 days in the spring to do the maintenance: “It’s 12 days of hard work every year, from 7am till dark. We get someone to paint the hull and varnish the mast for us, though I still do the mizzen.”
    I think the boat and owner are keeping each other fit, too. How many men like him and boats like her are nonchalantly taking off for a 1,000-mile cruise? Not many.