Sailing With Charlie: Different Strokes for Different Folks

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

The season is definitely upon us and sailing tourism is booming. There are more and more large condos (quasi cats) sailing the waters of the BVI and the eastern Caribbean than ever before. Charlie reasons that it is all because of the blistering economy in the US where rich people have more disposable income and the national credit card has an increased limit. Hey, no-one’s complaining here because cash is rubbing off on local charter operators; yachts are being sold and rented and support businesses are happy as pigs in … er, dung. 

There are also more and more cruising sailors (and wannabes) out there as the rat race becomes more demanding and the rats seem to be winning. There can be no doubt that the cruising lifestyle is one of the most rewarding; it encompasses all facets of life and requires you to get a handle on as many as possible – there are no electricians in the middle of the ocean. From seamanship, communications, the science of medicine, the art of navigation, the physics of sailing, the skills of mechanics, electrical systems, plumbing, meteorology … the list goes on. You should even know a bit about sewing (for emergency sail repair). There is really nothing in life on land that will not have a bearing on life at sea (pun intended).

Rat racers will be familiar with computers. Nowadays many lubbers go to sea with only push button knowledge of navigation … so make sure you have battery operated backups for everything electronic as well as navigational instruments. A good friend of mine, Shirley Carter, a 70 year old young lady on the junk rigged Virtue 25, Speedwell, just completed an 80 day single-handed sail (4,000nm approx.) from the Perlas Islands on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal to the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia. Her navigational instruments were pretty simple: Samsung Galaxy S8 tablet and cell phone with Navionics app and HF Weather Fax app coupled to a small HF receiver.

Well, when all is said and done more is said than done. Not in the case of ‘Shirlz’. Check out her blog ‘Speedwell of Hong Kong’. She and her little boat are headed for the record books. The salient point here is that cruising in a sailboat is not only about exciting sailing but also about unique adventure, exotic destinations, different cultures and peoples. 

So the difference between a luxury yacht charter and a real sailing adventure is clear. The former option you get pampered and fattened, driven around in a fast dinghy by a smiling captain to absorb the view, both above and below the water. Finally, you’ll move to a new anchorage or two every day for a change of scenery. 

The latter option involves learning new skills, partaking of real adventure and having the satisfaction of achievement when the hook finally drops at your intended destination.

It’s called different strokes for different folks.

 However—

“… there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” — Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows 

Julian_Putley
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.