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Toby Swann – The All Rounder

Toby Swann is living on his boat, a 37′ sloop, in Antigua as I write, boat building full time in the Falmouth area. But who knows where the rolling stone will go next?

Toby began sailing British Moths and Cadets in the UK when he was about seven. He left school in 1975 and went to Canada where he raised a punk band called “Battered Wives” in Toronto (he sings and plays the guitar).

A pal was putting a boat together in Fort Lauderdale, so Toby went to help him and spent the winter there. By then he’d caught the sailing bug so he returned to Canada and bought a 31 footer Obstreperous. With fifty dollars and a girlfriend, he sailed her to Stuart, Florida. His dad had taught him how to build houses so he did that. But the lure of the sea began again to hold sway. In 1989 back he went to sea, armed with guitar, a tiny PA system, and his woodworking tools. In Key West, he played and sang on a
day-charter schooner in day trips to many sunset bars.

But again he was hit by a desire to see beyond the horizon, so he sailed off to Isla Mujeres, near Cancun, then down to Belize, Guatemala and up the Rio Dulce to the marinas near Livingstone.

Waiting one day to be hauled out, a storm ripped through and his boat was beached. After three days of kedging and cursing he managed to get off. Despite friends who said he would never find a more interesting place to stay, he continued to the Bay Islands where he met Linda, now his wife.

She had to return to Germany so they sailed up to Xtapa in Mexico for her to catch a plane home. When she returned he had sailed up to Florida, from where they sailed to the Dominican Republic where they stayed three years. He got a job running La Pantera then served as skipper of Jungsfernsteig a 300 tonner from Hamburg, complete with parasailing and mini submarines, in Samana Bay in the Eastern DR.

They left for Tortola when Linda found she was pregnant and from there to St. Martin, where he ran one of the Golden Eagle Cats and drove the Heineken boat Bluebeard, a 63 passenger cat on a daily tourist and cruise ship run for two years.

Leon, their son, was born in 1998 so he sold Obstreperous for something bigger, a 37′ sloop in St. Martin. Soon after, Linda and the baby flew off to Germany so he ran across the Atlantic with a hitch-hiker as crew and he and Linda and Leon met again in Cartagena, where he worked in the renovated Naval Yard doing up megayachts.

But they tired of the muddy Mediterranean so off they sailed to the Canaries where Toby got a job in Gomera as a ship’s carpenter.

He’s now back in Antigua, arriving in 2003, where he works for Woodstock the Boatbuilders and where Leon, aged six, is in a
local school. Linda is a qualified Diving Instructor so they’re certainly making ends meet.

Whither away next, Toby olde salt? He’s sailed over 120,000 miles so I don’t think he can stop now.

 

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