LEARNING TO SAIL AND TO HANDLE LIFE ON A SAILING BOAT
Don’t let the story about my first breakdown scare you if you want to get yourself into sailing. That was only one of many hectic episodes I’ve been through. The important thing is to learn from them.
Things break on boats and you have to fix it or sort the situation out so you can get yourself safe while waiting for someone else to fix it for you.
The weather can be unpredictable, but the weather forecast is pretty good these days, especially if you zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Ask around about the local weather systems and make sure you prepare.
Take in the stories from other sailors’ mistakes or hectic events. Everyone started somewhere and that’s the adventure of it.
WHEN YOU ARE OUT THERE, YOU HAVE TO MAKE DISCISSIONS ALL THE TIME
Not only checking the weather but also thinking about everyone’s safety, the safety of the boat, and also evaluating your own and the crew’s ability. The practical part is the easiest, the more training, the better you get.
Maneuvering a big boat can be hard, to begin with, but when you learn the behavior in different situations and your boat’s quirks, you’ll be maneuvering like a champion eventually.
With common sense, you can buy all the safety equipment in the world and have the boat in shipshape condition. The mental part is the challenge.
Are you taking people out on a safe journey? Do you have the necessary safety equipment on board? What do you do in a medical emergency?
You need to think about these things and brief the crew. Life jackets. Fire extinguishers. Emergency procedure on the VHF. Let them know what to do in case where you fall in the water. How to operate the boat under the engine and how to take down the sails.
THIS IS JUST SUMMING UP SOME OF IT
It might sound corny when you think that you are just going to cruise along the coast with your friends, but as a skipper, you are the legally responsible person onboard and you need to take that responsibility seriously.
This develops your leadership skills in a unique way that is extremely valuable. You get into situations that you have to solve. There isn’t a choice not to.
I didn’t have much prior sailing experience, but I had plenty of experience being on the ocean. Throwing myself into this life has been a steep learning curve that I have really enjoyed and it has given me experience no books or training courses could ever give me.
AFTER A WHILE YOU GET MORE COMFORTABLE
As I am writing this, I am sitting in Norway looking back at my first season onboard Ellidah.
We sailed up and down the coast of Spain several times, then to Morocco, back to Spain, to the Balearic Islands, down to Sardinia and Sicily, up to the Aeolian islands, and back down to Sicily again.
Writing the story from the beginning makes me reflect on how far I have come as a skipper, a sailor, and as a person. I learned more in a year than I would in a lifetime in my previous life.
I am going to write about all the nice and exotic things about my cruising lifestyle, but I also want to include the embarrassing mishaps.
The less proud moments, because it is from these, I’ve learned the most.