An interesting philosophy received via the Practical Sailor Waypoints Newsletter from August 13, 2014.
Cruising under sail is a hundredfold more complex than merely buying a suitable yacht. We know this because the marinas and harbors of the world are dotted with private pleasure craft, most of which go nowhere at all. There are tens of thousands of boat owners but very few sailors. Pay attention to this phrase: lots of boat owners but very few sailors. And a sailor you must be if you’re going to try ocean voyaging. You need a modicum of sailing aptitude, some ability to fix things, and the willingness to pitch in and work.
Most veteran long-distance small-boat sailors are free spirits who fall into the classification of restless adventurer and who are always looking at distant horizons and trying new things. These spooky engineers usually lack fancy certificates, but they’ve all served fairly intensive apprenticeships and have learned a good bit about the sea, the care of their vessels, and the management of themselves.
To learn the fundamentals of sailing, you need to go to a special school for a few weeks. You will be taken out in a dinghy or small vessel for instruction in sail handling, tacking, gybing, docking, maneuvering in restricted waters, and following safety procedures. Then you must practice as often as possible and serve as crew for friends on their yachts.
In the beginning, you will only be a grunt, but little by little it will come to you. Every time you sail on a different vessel, you learn a thing or two because each captain has his own way of doing things. You need to practice stitching sails, to find out about anchors and rigging, and to get some notion of sanding and painting and fixing things because life under sail is a never-ending round of maintenance, modifications, and large and small repairs.
We’re trying to take it to heart as we prepare for our next trip to Malta and some overnight passages. We are familiar with the equivalent of the boat in the marina that goes no where in the automotive world. It’s called a Trailer Queen.
Back when John was pretty deep in the Cobra scene, we saw many beautiful cars of all sorts that really didn’t do anything other than look good just sitting there, hence the name. They were trailered everywhere they went and were never used for what a car is designed for, namely to be driven. To each his own, but we preferred (and still do) firing it up and travelling afar.
I have already started to scan the crew wanted ads, and may even have a few opportunities with an acquaintance that just bought a boat.
I’m sure we’ll have many a fine sundowner with the other beautiful boats and new friends at the marina. I just hope that it is in many different marinas as possible, as we continue our cruising.