Like many others, Iíve been reading this thread with great enjoyment but have been hesitant about adding to it Ė I mean what can I write that hasnít already been said better.
But here I sit, its 21 degrees with snow flurries; thereís half a gale blowing outside, what better time to muse about sailing. So letís break out the rum and start outÖ
Iíve been sailing since I was five, thatís 62 years now. I started with Penguins and wended my way up to my current boat Ė Enchantress. Iíve enjoyed racing starting with a Snipe hull #1849 which I naturally named Gold Rush to a C&C 40 , Satisfaction. Iíve owned 4 ľ big boats ranging through a steel-hulled 37-ft ketch, a mahogany and oak Dickerson 35, a C&C 40, a Tartan 37C, and my current Morgan 45.
Iíve sailed to Bermuda, navigating with sextant and site reduction tables, up the east coast from the Chesapeake as far as Frenchmanís Bay in Maine and in the islands.
CD , when starting this thread asked about philosophies of cruising, which to me is the question of why do I cruise? What do I get out of it?
I donít want to go all mystical, but on the water under sail, with just the natural motion of the boat reacting to the wind and waves, the sound of the water hissing past the hull Ė I get peace, serenity, and a sense of where I belong in the universe. I need to get away from it all -- all being, television, cell phones, traffic, air and noise pollutionÖ but not people. I could not be a single-hander. Iíll take the boat out alone for day to sail and think but thatís it. To cruise single-handed, I would be missing the sharing, the unity my wife and I have, especially on the boat. Leaving that would be leaving the best part of myself behind.
What do I consider cruising? I used to think of far horizons and exotic locales but not any more. After all, two-weeks gunkholing on the Chesapeake is as much cruising as two-weeks sailing to Bermuda. Hell, a while back my wife and I chartered a narrowboat on the British canals and cruised through western England and Wales for two weeks at 4 mph. It was really great, and we plan to do it again Ė that was as much cruising as sailing Enchantress from Antigua to the Chesapeake.
As for the boat, Enchantress would do very nicely for blue water cruising. She is strongly built with a full keel and she handles a seaway very well. Above all we have found her comfortable to live on for extended periods of time. What would I add Ė extra water tanks, a watermaker and a second solar panel. Iíd also replace all my lights with LEDs. I would redo my survey of my power needs to see what weíd have to give up for extended cruising. And I would have every inch of her hull and rigging checked by a good marine surveyor before setting out and renew everything that needed renewing.
Iím a firm believer in the KISS principle, but keeping things simple does not mean sacrificing comfort. I have no plans to give up my custom mattresses or my awnings and fans. My SSB radio can stay right where it is, as can my chart plotters. My life raft would be refurbished and returned to itís position in front of the dodger. Iíd probably buy a couple of batteries for the EPIRB. However, keeping it simple means id donít rely on the chart plotters as my only means of navigation, or have sails that only can be handled by electric winches, or an electric windlass as the only way I can raise my big anchors. Keeping it simple to me usually means keeping it safe.
But would I do a circumnavigation? Most probably not. While I expect we will sail down to the islands, and maybe through the Panama Canal and then to Hawaii. Once we got to Hawaii I can see us saying ĎWell since weíre already out hereÖí and going off to the Pacific islands and then to Australia. But I donít have any burning desire to circumnavigate and I think weíd be much more likely to go back the way we came. Rather than face the Somali pirates or the roaring forties.