Often, a reader will read one of my articles and email me some questions. Many want to know how to buy a sailboat, where to visit while sailing, what it’s like to sail around with children aboard, practical maintenance questions and some are interested in selling up and sailing away like we have. Below I have questions answered about some common sailing fears.
One lovely reader named Malissa, who’s following a similar path as us, sent the following questions. Rather than answer them over email I let her know that several others probably have similar questions. Malissa is in the process of selling her business and starting to look for the sailboat that will become a new home. Laid out below are some excellent questions and the best answers I could come up with based on my current experience.
If you have a helpful answer, please leave it in the comment area below OR if you have a question, please feel free to email me directly on Kim@SailingBritican.com
Questions answered about some common sailing fears
Question: The fear of looking out and not seeing land – did you fear long passages?
Answer: Before doing a long passage or a night sail, I only had experience of coastal navigation. We usually sailed using line of sight and frequented the same marinas/harbors over and over again. Ever since buying Britican, however, things have changed.
When we took possession of our new boat, we sailed her from Palma Mallorca to mainland Spain and then onto Gibraltar. The trip took 3 days and there were times where I couldn’t see land. Furthermore, when sailing at night, I often couldn’t see much of anything
I was expecting to be scared, but I actually felt peaceful. Not seeing land didn’t scare me and I enjoyed sailing under the moon. You don’t know how you’ll feel until you do things. For me, the whole experience felt liberating.
At the beginning of this year I did, however, feel that crossing the Atlantic would be too much for me. My main concern was seasickness. Now that I don’t get too sick anymore, I’m looking forward to a 18 – 25 day non-stop sail. Not seeing land excites me more than anything now.
Question: Our ship helped a boat full of Cubans while on a cruise ship in Florida. I know you are suppose to help boats, but staying away would seem a better option if we had this happen to us on a little boat. Your thoughts?
Answer: Before leaving on our trip from Gibraltar to Malta – over 850 miles over the top of North Africa, the skipper we hired to help us warned us of seeing illegal immigrants. He instructed us that the best thing we can do is quickly inform the Coast Guard and then head in the opposite direction. A boatload of desperate people can swamp a boat. Furthermore, you don’t know what condition the people will be in. The immigrants could be in such a state where they could harm the boat or us.
Thus far I’ve heard only one report of illegal immigrants heading north from Africa. The Coast Guard sent out a message over the VHF asking for boaters to call them if the boat was spotted. We never saw anything.
Question: We were at a dead stop in the middle of the ocean with nothing around. A bit freaky…did you ever feel this?
Answer: If our boat comes to a dead stop through lack of wind, we usually turn the engine on and motor forward. However, we’ve had a few times where we jumped off the back of the boat and went for a swim. In the Med, the wind blows big time and then it’s stops big time. I’m very used to being in the middle of nowhere with no wind.
Question: Do you ever get a bit worried looking out at sea out thinking what is under all that water under your boat?
Answer: YES! I wonder all the time what’s under our boat. There are loads of whales in the Med and I often wonder if they’re right below us. Further, I do get seriously freaked out when we swim in the middle of the sea. I jump off, feel nervous and swim quickly back to the ladder. When there’s a 100 meters of water below you, there must be all sorts.
One time I remember my husband and daughter swimming off the back of the back of the boat (see pictures below of our sail from Sami, Kefalonia to Zakinthos – you’ll see a fender floating behind the boat. As a safety percausion we tie a fender to a long rope – if the wind picks up and pushes the boat, the swimmers can grab onto the fender). Anyway…the wind came to a complete stop. As Simon and Sienna were swimming, my cousin and I watched a swordfish jump out of the water twice (no photo – sorry!). I didn’t want to frighten my daughter so we kept our excitement to a minimum. Since then, I’ve been even more curious about what’s under the boat!
Question: I know you have your website and articles to keep you busy. Do you recommend having a little project? My husband and I were laughing as we were overlooking the vast ocean and chatting about sailing questioning what does one do to keep busy? I know I read lots of your articles about maintaining the boat and such. Coming from so much work in America, do you recommend a little hobby? I know I am looking forward to teaching my boys like you have done with Sienna.
Answer: That’s a good question. Now that we’ve been sailing around all summer I think I could go either way. I’m definitely happy to have my little project as it gives me an excuse to go to a coffee shop and have some alone time when we’re near land. It also keeps my brain engaged in a business like manor. However, saying all that, I could very easily drop my website and article writing. I have to really push hard to find the time to write and update my website.
Never in a million years did I think we’d be so busy. We’re always meeting new people, going on amazing adventures and feeling quite tired by the end of the day. And the boat always needs to be cleaned or maintained. One word of warning – get ready to clean, clean and clean. I have no idea where the dust comes from, but the boat is always dirty. I vacuum every day and wash the floors often. And when I’m not cleaning the inside, the outside always needs some attention – clean the teak, wash the GRP or get the rust of the metal work. Whenever we enter a marina we spend hours using fresh water to get the salt water off.
And then there’s provisioning and cooking – who would think that buying food and cooking would be so complicated?! Often it’s hard to find a good supermarket. When you do find one, there’s often a very limited supply of veggies. Meat is almost always sold at a butcher so once you get our veggies, pasta, rice and bread, you have to hunt down the local butcher. It often takes hours.
Meal times take up loads of time too – preparing seems to take a while and of course, we’re doing dishes by hand so that takes a while. The only thing that seems to go quickly is eating! Check out my ‘Britican Galley’ area as I’m uploading easy recipes as we go along.
Question: Lastly, I loved Florida, but we were there during the hottest most humid month of the year. Do you run into weather that is not that comfortable? I know when we were by the water it was cooler, but what do you do if and when it is so hot and humid? The cat we would get would have A/C…do you run yours often??
Answer: Another very good question. Until recently, life aboard has been comfortable. Currently, however, it’s 37 C or around 97 F. Since we’re on the water there’s almost always a breeze. That being said, there have been a few nights were I’ve slept in the cockpit or in the saloon as it get’s more of a breeze. We do have air conditioning but the amount of power it takes to run it is very high. Further, we’d have to run the generator at the same time and although out generator is quiet it’s still annoying.
And then there’s the maintenance…There’s a high risk of illness if the air con isn’t cleaned out regularly and properly. I’ve never been a fan of air conditioning. When I take my daughter, Sienna, around the towns for a walk, I do however find stores that have air where I can enjoy a few moments of coolness!
I might be wrong about this, but I think if you’re on a week holiday you might want to run the air. If you’re sailing around the world, I feel as if it’s an unnecessary cost. And by being on the boat all the time, you tend to acclimatize. I’m sure others might feel totally different.
Any more questions? Let me know. Email me at Kim@SailingBritican.com or if you have different answers to mine above, please contribute – leave your responses in the comment box below!
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