Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Sailing the world's a full-time pleasure

An interesting question surfaced today after my recounting of an agonising 4,000-plus mile sail with a damaged yacht and seriously bruised ribs in the Southern Ocean - from a little east of South Africa to Australia.
Solo sailor Morten Bråthen, who kept Facebookers up to date with the rescue of Abhilash Tommy in the singlehanded Golden Globe round-the-world race, wondered on the Sailing Solo part of Facebook if I did much writing at sea.
Apart from keeping my log book up to date, I had to confess that I didn’t.

It's a full-time job

I replied, ‘Not a chance for writing at sea, Morten. I've always found sailing, particularly sailing alone, a full-time job.
You need to keep an eye to the wind because sail areas need to be increased or decreased as conditions change. That's the way it is in yacht racing and of course that applies to cruising, particularly alone, which most of my sailing has been.
'Of course, a good eye is essential when shipping is about. I seldom had the advantage of radar, so not being run down required a good lookout.
‘Another reason I didn't write at sea: every day was like a quite special and very unique performance.
As well as the action of the sea, I could enjoy the performances of huge schools of fish that travel in massive schools very long distances, and the off-shore birds, particularly albatross which, with Pentax, often cruised up there between the masts.

Blank the biped

‘Spirit of Pentax was 56-ft in length, but often gliding albatross seemed almost bigger than the yacht.
'Sometimes they would show an interest in the schooner and sail changes and the human clambering about, and at other times seem to totally ignore the sailing vessel just below them, and (as the expression goes) completely blank the gaudily dressed biped on deck.
‘You won't need me to remind you of the pleasure of seeing whales, and schools of dolphins. So, as well as keeping the yacht efficiently on course, there is that utterly different oceanic world which only a lucky few of us get to know.
'I'd happily write about it afterwards - and long afterwards - but being at sea was a busy entertainment that felt full-time. And a bit more. …Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, at


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