Many of us dream of the freedom that comes with taking to the open seas or beholding a lakeside sunset from the deck of a gently rocking vessel. There is certainly much to fantasise about when we think of sailing. However, it is important to be aware that our expectations may not always reflect reality!
Taking the time to check that we have a realistic sense of what our impending yacht-bound adventures will involve is the best way to ensure delight over disappointment. With that in mind, here are some of the areas in which new boaters might get caught out. By being in the know, you can prepare to have a boating experience that ticks the fantasy box over and above any other.
#1. The space factor
Freedom is a great word to associate with sailing. As your craft cuts silently through the water, which spans from here to the horizon, you will certainly feel a sense of liberation. That said, it is best to come aboard with an understanding of any yacht’s physical limitations. In reality, even the most decadent of vessels still means close quarters for all sleeping below deck. Storage for your luggage is bound to be limited, as is space to stash and cook food. When preparing to set off on a yacht expedition, your expectations should be more akin to a bonding experience with your fellow crew mates, rather than a chance to be alone or secluded.
#2. Changeable conditions
Water, water, everywhere! The idea of fair-weather sailing is appealing indeed, but it is vital to keep in mind that conditions offshore are rarely the same as on dry land. Even on the sunniest of days, water has a way of getting into everything. This means that being appropriately dressed for dampness, with extra layers accessible, is simply prudent planning. On the one hand, the temperature out on open water can be quite a bit cooler than ashore, so you may be surprised by how much you need to wrap up. On the other hand, the sun’s rays hit us twice, as they shine down and bounce back up off the water, so even on cooler days, sunscreen is a must. Finally, particularly at sea, the weather can change very quickly. It is better to be kitted up for a variety of conditions than get caught out while far from somewhere to re-supply.
#3. All hands on deck
If you are plotting your next yachting trip with a view to relaxing and unwinding, this tip is for you! While you may indeed get plenty of chances to lounge on deck with a book, it is best not to forget that sailing is a sport. Manoeuvring a yacht takes skill and understanding and, at times, all present parties may be called upon to jump into action. Sailing is a hands-on activity, with daily maintenance intertwining with situation-dependent calls to action. The fantastic thing about this is the immense satisfaction that comes when nailing a challenge, or synergistically operating as a team. When this reality is consciously paired with the leisure aspects of journeying out on a yacht, it becomes a rewarding pursuit indeed.
#4. Going unplugged
These days, we spend just as much time in our digital realities as our real-world ones, and we have all become accustomed to being constantly connected. While you might well be able to capture that dream panoramic snap or selfie while on deck, do not plan on posting it to Instagram right in the moment. Being out on open water often means being out of range for our standard forms of communication. A marine radio can provide the capacity to contact the coastline in a pinch but checking your emails or Twitter feed may well be off the menu. Consider where your yacht expedition will be wandering and set your virtual connection expectations accordingly!
#5. Safety first
When water moves, it is transformed into an immensely powerful force. A core element of sailing savvy is always to place emphasis on safety. Equally, a yacht is a marvellously complicated vessel that has been evolved to extraordinary sophistication. This makes it an exciting host for new experiences, but also means that things can and do go wrong from time to time. To immerse yourself fully and confidently in your sailing trip, take the time to absorb as much as you can about safety procedures. Understand that safety equipment, while rarely necessary, is there for your protection. If the unexpected occurs, pay immediate attention to, and follow the instruction of your skipper. The joy of sailing comes with some responsibility, both to us, and our crew mates. That is one of the elements of sailing that makes it so exhilarating.
What do you think? Did we miss any of the common misconceptions when it comes to yachting expectations vs. reality?