There was a note in the Seven Seas Cruising Associate Newsletter a few years back, asking, “What hints would you give to someone who was looking for their very first offshore cruising boat.” When the next issue of the newsletter arrived I read some of the answers and felt that they reflected budgets and desires that could discourage any but relatively wealthy folks from thinking they could get out cruising. So, I compiled the following quick notes. This list originally appeared on the YachtPals site and was commented on by folks in a closed facebook cruising group this week. So I thought I would share these thoughts with you as they definitely relate to the newsletter I just posted. I also know this list reflects my experiences and some folks will disagree with me. But remember I am a woman who came to love sailing and enjoyed cruising with the same partner (Larry my husband) for over 45 years and 200,000 offshore miles. (I have had the experience of crossing oceans on boats ranging from 24 feet to 55 feet in length, sailed on boats up to 140 feet, and still enjoy and prefer cruising on those under 30 feet.) I hope you find these thoughts useful.
- Everyone will try to convince you the boat size they chose was the best and the gear they chose was absolutely necessary – after all if you buy the same it validates their choices.
- Length, size or displacement do not equal safety. (Hal and Margaret Roth, Eric and Susan Hiscock, Gary “Cap’t Fatty” Goodlander and Carolyn, are just a three other couples who each cruised extensively and enjoyably for many years on boats 35 feet or less.)
- Seamanship, preparation, forethought and flexibility equal safety.
- The very best piece of safety equipment you can have is a skilled and willing crew.
- Not one woman I have met cruising on boats over 45 feet felt she could maneuver her boat into port or move it to a safer anchorage without help if her mate was debilitated.
- Work to make your boat un-stoppable, i.e. if something stops working such as the alternator, if the battery fails, even if the engine fails, you can still get water from your tanks, have navigation lights and reading lights, get your anchor up, your sails set and keep going onward until you reach a good place to do repairs.
- Learn to appreciate the pleasures and practicalities of sailing, have nylon sails that will keep your boat moving in light winds, practice using them and your engine becomes a true auxiliary instead of an absolute necessity.
- Security and comfort do not equal freedom and adventure.
Almost 45 years ago Larry first coined the motto: Go small, go simple, go now. I add, if you wait until you can afford perfection, you might find you or your partner are no longer flexible enough or healthy enough to leave shore life and enjoy voyaging. When we crossed the Pacific a few years ago, we found we could still have adventures with local people by slowing down, turning off the internet and being open to the locals. Our new friends Ruth and Duncan found the same thing applies this year. So come on out, the water is fine.