Cruising takes courage … to follow your dream, sell the house, buy a yacht and sail away into the blue yonder!
I was heading off on my first offshore voyage on a friends yacht, it was the Regatta held yearly that left from Auckland, New Zealand sailing to the Pacific Islands. The Sailing Club was buzzing as Captains and crews got together for a pre trip briefing.
I spotted a couple who had worked for several years on their yacht, every weekend they would barely sail at all as I passed by their berth they would be hard at work and say ‘next year we’ll go’ …. But the yacht always ‘needing’ another bit of equipment, there was always another excuse.
I wondered over to them full of excitement …“Well you have one of the best equipped off shore yachts in the marina I guess you’ll be in the Regatta this year?” “No!” was the reply. I kept pushing for a reason until she stopped me in my tracks … “I’ve just discovered I’ve got bone cancer so there’ll be no sailing of any sort for me!”
None of us know what’s round the corner, she was only in her 40’s and they had put off their dream too many times.
Many people dream of giving up work, selling the house buying a yacht and sailing the world.
When is the right time? They will say ….When they retire! Or when the kids have grown up … or when they find the right partner, or have enough money! Sadly it never happens. After one ladies divorce and 20 years of dreaming she was asked ‘why didn’t you fulfil your dream of sailing?’ Her answer, “We procrastinated and were too cautious …. It’s better to just do it!”
Letting go of everything that is labelled security is not easy.
Throwing in the good job or the boring stressful work where you are tied to 9 to 5 hours and often have to work overtime. The house with the mortgage and it’s up keep. Accumulating more money and possessions for when you do retire hoping your health holds out for you to enjoy it!
And then there are friends and family members that can’t be convinced and think you must be a little crazy! They have all the arguments! It’s easier to become a ‘grey nomad’ and travel around in a UV or caravan than go off cruising in a yacht with all its dangers they will tell you. True!
Why? Sometimes you’ll have all the answers and bubble with enthusiasm as you reminisce on your adventures and the wonderful feeling of freedom, the achievement and amazing places you visit ….and sometimes you’ll ask yourself the same question! Why?
You have your yacht, plans ….and your dreams …. So when are you ready to leave? The answer is you are never quite ready to leave … no one is! Moored at the marinas everywhere there are sailors with the same dream that have not taken off yet or gone so far and stopped and now just live aboard.
But if at the end of your days you don’t want to be looking back and saying if only I’d had the courage to throw off the mooring lines and just head out over the horizon and as the Nike slogan says ‘just do it!’
So does this mean you should throw caution to the wind and just be fool hardy? Absolutely not!! You are heading out into an ocean that can be amazingly beautiful at times but also unforgiving and dangerous.
Be prepared! You, your crew and your yacht!
There are safety regulations that govern the condition of your yacht for off shore sailing and if you are wise should be taken seriously. Educate yourself on what these are, in New Zealand your yacht had to be inspected and certified as Category 1 to sail off shore.
Check out the International Sailing Federation Requirements and remember this is for your own safety at sea!
This is a small part of the regulations but will give you the idea and it can be downloaded from the internet.
Section 3 – Structural Features, Stability, Fixed Equipment
3.01 Strength of Build, Ballast and Rig
Yachts shall be strongly built, watertight and, particularly with regard to hulls, decks and cabin trunks capable of withstanding solid water and knockdowns. They must be properly rigged and ballasted, be fully seaworthy and must meet the standards set forth herein.
3.02 Watertight Integrity of a Hull
3.02.1 A hull, including, deck, coach roof, windows, hatches and all other parts, shall form an integral, essentially watertight unit and any openings in it shall be capable of being immediately secured to maintain this integrity.
3.23 Bilge Pumps and Buckets
a) Two permanently installed manual bilge pumps, one operable from above, the other from below deck.
3.29 Communications Equipment, EPFS (Electronic Position-Fixing
System), Radar, AIS
3.29.1 The following shall be provided: a) A marine radio transceiver.
4.19 EPIRBs …… and then it goes into all the other safety equipment.
And so it goes on with all the requirements. Safety equipment is more stringent for racing yachts but the important thing is to be as seaworthy and prepared as possible.
As I was always aware when off shore … there are no mechanical services out there ….you are on your own with your own skills and know how!
Take navigation and seamanship courses. Go on extended coastal cruises and ‘know’ your boat and how she handles. In saying all that every day you’re cruising is going to be an education of some sort so don’t keep putting it off. People go off shore with very little experience and come back as seasoned sailors.
You’ll find you wished you had got this or that piece of equipment only while you’re out there cruising. So if it’s important get it next time you reach landfall.
Worried about not having enough in the cruising kitty learn about how to make money while cruising from your skills or hobbies. Or wish you had done an extra navigation course …learn more from the books you take along. Need crew there are always people up for adventure.
Don’t wait until it’s too late and always regret that you never followed your dream. Just do it!
If something unforeseen occurs before you throw off those mooring lines maybe it’s still not too late! Be encouraged by David Hind who dreamt of doing wonderful things in retirement but things didn’t go to plan.
Dave had always wanted to retire early and spend more time doing the thing he really loves …sailing.
He retired aged 62: then just 18 months later he woke up on Boxing Day morning, his face was sagging to one side, he could not move the right side of his body and worst of all he could not utter a word.
He had had a massive stroke! But he followed his dream of sailing … not maybe as you would envision …read his story!