Went to the Southampton Boat Show today. As usual most of it was a hymn to ostentation, with Welsh foghorn Katherine Jenkins belting out a few operatic arias from the stern of an unspeakable new Sunseeker. Dragon's Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis also waxed lyrical about the Sunseekers he is upgrading to.
But my absolutely favourite boat at the show is the Starfish, a rowing boat for children.
The Starfish is made by Reid Marine in Christchurch, builders of the Hawk 20 of which I see a lot in Chichester Harbour. The design was inspired by Blondie Haslar's Peanut, a 5ft long fibreglass hull with enough buoyancy to float completely swamped. It comes with oars in captive rowlocks, so newbies can't lose them. You can even choose a hull colour from a range of the vile tones that kids love.
This is the sort of boat that children discover the water in. They find out what happens when you put oars in the water and pull. You can see them working it out for themselves, and almost instantly becoming expert boat handlers. And they have brilliant fun doing it.
At £575 inc VAT they are excellent value for money, because you can let your kids mess about in one secure in the knowledge that they will have to be embarrassingly inept to kill themselves.
I haven't a clue who the girl in the Starfish is, but she was clearly taken with it as much as me. She wanted to pose in it because it is in her favourite pink. Goodonya, girl!
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FOR THEO PAPHITIS, IF THIS SHOULD MEET THE EYE OF.
If you are tempted by the idea of podding out £12 million for a Sunseeker 40m, consider how much good you could do by buying 21,000 Starfishes and giving them to schools and youth clubs round the country.