Colin Smith was born in 1921, the youngest child of Stan Smith senior and his first wife, Jean. Leaving school at 14, he was apprenticed at Saunders-Roe, the aero- and marine engineering firm at Cowes.
Colin and his brother Stan both joined the RAF during the Second World War, and underwent pilot training in Canada. Both then served in India and Burma; Colin in 671 Squadron flying Waco Hadrian gliders.
At the end of the war, he and Stan initially planned to buy a dhow, and sail it back to England, though that plan was quietly shelved. On their return, the brothers bought a 45-ft, 15-ton gaff cutter, Cerise, with their service gratuities. Developing their plans for the Nova Espero enterprise, they first intended to sail Cerise across the Atlantic to Canada, but she proved unseaworthy.
Eventually selling Cerise, in 1949, Colin and Stan returned to Canada, built Nova Espero, and sailed her back from Dartmouth Nova Scotia to Darmouth, Devon – the story of which is told in “Smiths at Sea“.
Colin married in 1950, and returned to Canada with Stan, and Charles Violet, for a few months that year to try to set up the first Nova Espero peace colony. After that plan proved impossible, Colin worked again for Saunders-Roe, before moving to Husbands shipyard at Marchwood. Later he took up lecturing and teaching boat design at Southampton, Wisbech in Cambridgshire, and finally Worthing in Sussex.
On his retirement from teaching, he returned to the Isle of Wight, where he carried on the family firm of Theo Smith and Son, after the death of his younger brother, Gerald. He later spent a long and productive retirement, as a prolific artist and keen sailor, with a side-line in building rocking horses, and he frequently gave lectures on the Nova Espero voyage.
Colin died in 2018, aged 96.