John Liley (1937-) has been boating much of his life, first of all upon the canals and rivers of England, then sailing around the Kentish coast. After qualifying as an engineer, and spells in the industrial world, he left to work in yacht delivery. Voyaging between points as far apart as Guadaloupe, the Shetland Isles and eastern Greece, he experienced the terrors of heavy gale conditions and the magic of a landfall at sunrise, with dolphins leaping beneath the bow.
On the strength of these voyages John was offered a job with a boating magazine, only to discover that in addition to craft under sail it covered canals as well. So he got hooked again. After nine years - five of them as Editor - he left to explore the waterways of France in a coal barge from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Subsequently John set up in business with a hotel-barge in Burgundy. "I thought I would give it a go for a couple of years," he says. That was in 1976. It has been keeping him busy ever since.