James wants to share the joy of sailing

A love of sailing saw businessman James Barnett give up his job and invest his time in bringing a dilapidated yacht back to life.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 23rd July 2016, 6:00 am
James Barnett and his yacht Klaus Stortebeker
James Barnett and his yacht Klaus Stortebeker

A year on and the 38-year-old has expanded his business Kingfisher Sailing and is now offering bespoke trips with a difference.

His 65ft yacht is moored at Haslar Marina in Gosport, with the Solent a perfect place for James to organise short sailing trips.

For longer excursions, he takes people around the Balearic Islands and to the Mediterranean to try new experiences and discover the joy of sailing.

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Having worked for nearly 20 years in the sailing industry, James was keen to give his own business a go and is looking forward to where it can take him.

He says: ‘A passion for sailing saw me work in the industry since leaving school.

‘I have sailed around the world and worked in the Caribbean, but a few years ago I got an office job in project management and engineering.

‘But being in an office wasn’t something I enjoyed and I wanted a change.’

The opportunity for James to run his own business presented itself in the yacht Klaus Störtebeker.

An old friend of his could no longer keep up maintenance on the boat and was looking to get rid of it.

He adds: ‘My wife and I spoke about it for a long time and thought we could make a go of it. We decided to purchase the boat and have been refitting it for the past year.

‘Part of the work has been done is Sussex, while the other half we’re finishing here in Gosport.

‘Haslar Marina has a very good reputation and we were keen to be close to the Solent as it’s a great area.

‘This area has great links to London too and is very popular for people in the marine industry.

‘The work has been pretty extensive and has taken a little longer than we expected, but it is exciting to be at this stage now.

‘Looking back, a although owning my own sailing company was something I wanted I never thought it would happen.

‘It was always in the back of my mind, but wasn’t something I thought too much about.

‘It is fantastic to be where we are now.

‘It was a big move and a big decision for us, but when I saw this boat and how dilapidated it was, I just couldn’t let it get worse.

‘I really wanted to use it for something.’

During its time in Gosport, Kingfisher Sailing will be offering a number of trips with a difference.

People will be able to take part in a yoga retreat while on the yacht. This is something James is keen to do more of, offer more bespoke experiences that makes his company stand out. He says: ‘I didn’t want Kingfisher Sailing to be a normal charter company.

‘I wanted to have something different about us, so while people are sailing we can do different activities.

‘Next month, we are having a yoga retreat on the boat in the Solent.

‘I wanted to do more than just typical sailing and I think these sort of trips will appeal to more people.

‘You don’t need to have any sailing experience and if you enjoy the other activities, being able to do them on a boat will be something different.’

As well as the yoga trip, Kingfisher Sailing is inviting people to take part in a week-long excursion with author Adam Wyeth.

James adds: ‘A lot of books are based on myths surrounding the sea.

‘There is the Odyssey, which follows the route of Odysseus, and there are a lot of islands and myths which stem from his adventures.

‘Getting out on the water is a great way to be creative and let your imagination go wild.’

The company also wants to offer kitesurfing safaris (pictured above)for people wanting to try to master the sport.

A little closer to home, this weekend Klaus Störtebeker will be on the water with spectators aboard to watch the America’s Cup World Series (pictured right).

Boats of all sizes are expected to be in the Solent to watch the racing today and tomorrow. Big crowds are expected to flock to Southsea to watch Sir Ben Ainslie and British team Land Rover BAR battle it out against five other teams. James says: ‘It will be exciting to be out in the Solent watching all the action.’


With plans to offer more than just a sailing experience, Kingfisher Sailing wants to inspire people to get creative.

The company, which is currently based at Haslar Marina in Gosport, is offering trips with poet and playwright Adam Wyeth , (pictured,) who wrote Silent Music and The Hidden World of Poetry: Unravelling Celtic Mythology in Contemporary Irish Poetry.

The week-long excursion to the Balearic Islands will give people the chance to meet Adam, hear his story and use the myths surrounding the islands to write their own stories.

There will also be on-shore visits to ancient sites and villages, such as Taulas on Menorca with its ancient stone megaliths and the cultural centre of Palma.

Adam says: ‘In literature the sea is a symbol for the unconscious, so the connections with writing run very deep. The course aims to give practical advice while allowing time to explore different texts.

‘Like an ocean voyage to new worlds, every writing exercise is a trip to the unknown. You never know quite where you’ll end up but you know you’ll come out of it a new person in some way.’

He adds: ‘Writers are navigators of the imagination. The trip promises to be a fascinating experience and the ultimate escape.’

Accommodation is on Kingfisher Sailing’s 65-foot yacht Klaus Störtebeker.

The boat was recently launched back into service following an extensive refit which has returned her to her former glory, creating contemporary accommodation for up to 10 people.

As well as writing and sailing, there will be plenty of time for other activities such as swimming and exploring.


The 65-foot aluminium ketch was built in 1979 in the Virgin Islands.

She was designed by celebrated naval architects McCurdy and Rhodes.

She was named after German Klaus Störtebeker, who was known as the Robin Hood of the seas.

The yacht can have up to 12 people stay on board for trips as it has two double and two twin guest cabins.

Former owners sailed the boat around the world twice.


Kingfisher Sailing offers lots of opportunities to get out on the water.

From bespoke adventures to sporty breaks and quiet retreats, there is something for everyone.

n For more information on the company, visit kingfishersailing.com or visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/kingfisherSailing.