Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Becoming obsessed with sailing

It might have been the lack of goals, future plans, career drive, motivation, commitments, challenges or responsibilities - anything - I don't know. The effect was that soon after I completed the RYA course, I became overwhelmed by the idea of setting off in a sailboat and travelling around the world. To be honest, there are several reasons why I'm so thrilled about sailing around the world apart from the sailing itself. But maybe I can write about that some other time. Or maybe not. Or maybe I'm just disillusioned.

This obsession was soon complimented by some confidence after reading Tania Aebi's "Maiden Voyage". Tania Aebi was around 17 years old with very little sailing experience when she set off on a two year voyage around the world in a Contessa 26. The book was given as a present to my girlfriend and I nicked it before she even had the chance to read the title..

The obsession initially manifested itself via a huge appetite to learn and discover the world of sailing, mostly by reading books. I wanted to know everything; well, at least in theory. After reading "Maiden Voyage" in a record time I started believing that I can do it. I can sail around the world. I bought and read several more books, started reading blogs, sailing forums, anything related to sailing.

The idea of buying a sailboat started bouncing in my head - I needed one after all in order to sail around the world. So I started reading about boats and looking at the ads.

I made a rough plan: I would buy a cheap old boat to learn in, save money, switch to the "round-the-world" boat in a year, refit it, leave my job, set-off in 2 years time and sail around for a couple of years.

Then the plan changed: I wouldn't buy a boat just yet because I would want to save as much money as I could for "the" boat and the costs of my 2-year trip. Instead I would crew on other people's boats and gain as much experience as possible. Perhaps go on an Atlantic crossing as crew..

Then I thought I might as well buy the round-the-world boat now and started looking for it. My favourite was the Seadog 30 ketch. It looked to me like it was built as a tank; or whatever the equivalent for boats is as tanks would probably not make particularly good boats no matter how well they were built. Other options included Cape Dorys, Nicholson 26 or 32, Elizabethans etc. etc. I knew very little about boats so I read a lot of material on what an ocean going boat should be like. The conclusion I came to was that it doesn't really matter that much, as long as it's made safe and is properly prepared and equipped.

Then I thought I'd better wait till I get to know a bit more and get some practical experience before I spend all my savings on a boat.

But I kept on looking at boats - on the internet that is.. Reading and searching for the perfect boat kept me awake at nights, for hours and days and weeks.. There was no escape.

First time sailing

Sailing is something that I've wanted to do for years. But as many things that I've wanted to do for years, it takes years to do them.. Sadly, not because of lack of time but generally due to laziness. I'm an extremely disorganised person, it takes me ages to make up my mind and I leave everything to the very last minute. But you're not here to read about me so that's enough.

The first time I did actually go sailing was in July 2009 when, in a spurt of inspiration, I asked my girlfriend if she would go sailing with me. We did the first 2 days of the 5-day RYA Competent Crew course in the Solent, which, for those of you that have never heard of it, is north of the Isle of Wight. I was so overwhelmed by the experience and wanted to learn as much as possible and as quickly as possible. However, I had to wait until the end of August to complete the course as summer holidays got in the way.

Following the completion of the course my girlfriend mentioned that she'd always wanted to sail around the world. That thought had, strangely,  never occurred to me before even though the idea of escaping to remote places had always had an appeal to me. It was as if Emma's words spoke directly to my subconscious mind! The the idea of sailing around the world became my latest obsession.

It's not so much the actual sailing as a sport or activity that has inspired me so much - it's more about the independence, freedom, opportunities and the new world that setting off in a boat seems to open up for you. I'm not under the impression that I'd discover new lands etc. - It would just be a life changing experience and that is good enough.