September 16, 2013

The importance of cruising

JUDGING BY THE NUMBER of blogs they’re generating, there must be thousands of people out there cruising in small sailboats, just wandering around the world at a leisurely pace and taking their homes with them.

I often wonder what it is that motivates them.  After all, it’s not the easiest way to travel.

I once knew an airline pilot who was also a sailor. He said that yacht cruising was far more complicated than flying a passenger jet. “You have to know so much more in so many different areas,” he said. “A pilot doesn’t have to know how to fix the engine or make sure there’s enough food and water on board.  A pilot doesn’t have to know how to repair or maintain anything. A pilot doesn’t have to worry about the right bottom paint, electrolytic corrosion or the different between deep-cycle and starter batteries.”

One of the many charms of cruising is the way you find yourself learning all the different skills you need to be self-sufficient. It’s a feeling that takes modern men and women back to the days of the great explorers. Nothing daunted them.  When they were shipwrecked on a foreign shore they felled trees, built boats, somehow fashioned the thousand and one things they needed, and carried on exploring.

They went ashore for months at a time, cleared land, and sowed their seeds. When the crops were ready, off they went again.  The world has changed since then, of course, and modern cruising won’t make a Renaissance man or woman out of you — but it might get pretty close.

If you have the opportunity, or, more to the point, if you make the opportunity, go cruising.  Go as far as you can for as long as you can at any age you can. You’ll never regret it.

Do your homework first, of course, and make sure you have an objective of some kind. Then sail away. Just have faith and sail away. You’ll find help and friendly people everywhere you go.  You’ll travel vast areas of ocean where the voice of man has never been heard before and maybe never will be again.

Go cruising. Nothing is more fascinating than cruising. Maybe nothing’s more important.

Today’s Thought
Four hoarse blasts of a ship’s whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.
— John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

“Pardon me, sir, may I have your name?”
“But I just signed the register. Can’t you see my signature?”
“Yes sir, that’s precisely what aroused my curiosity.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Anonymous said...

Nice one John, thanks.
We wannabes need reminding occasionally of the romance of it all...

Rob and Serena Cole said...

John, we are out here doing it right now, and for us I think we are just trying to figure out why everyone is doing it! It could take us years......

Tony Lawlor said...

Thank you John. You just said it right.
. Tony Lawlor.