Well, good luck to you.
Personally, I think your doing a great thing. A crossing is a huge challenge but, as lots of people have proven, is completely achievable.
Yes, take your time. If you are confident then you'll enjoy it so much more. A few bits of advice that it sounds like you are already on:
1. Do some official training. Both the ASA
and RYA run great appropriate courses. Get as much out of your instructor as you can. They probably will relish the chance to expand their normal repertoire if you push them a bit but may take it easy if you don't.
2. Spend as much time as you can spare learning
as much as you can, and getting as much experience as you can, in boat maintenance
in general and engine maintenance
in particular. Again there are courses out there but there is no substitute for experience. A good percentage of awful stories involve some kind of equipment
failure. Not many boat owners object to people lending a hand in maintenance tasks in exchange for a bit more experience. So get stuck in.
3. Get as much experience as you can in heavy weather. When I was teaching it was amazing how much we could extend peoples 'comfort zone' in just one week. Petrified on day one to begging to take reefs
out on day five. Take it slow and easy and you'll soon find that you are sailing happily in conditions that might have frightened you before.
4. Don't think that 'style' or 'rules' have anything to do with being safe. If a technique works for you on your boat and is safe then it is good. I say this after having to persuade many cruising couples that it was 'OK' to run downwind with only a genoa
up. Apparently the rules say it isn't. It's easy and safe and you don't actually loose a huge amount of boat speed on a modern sail plan. And you have the time and confidence to make and eat a meal!
5. Learn to make good decisions early and not be macho about them. This might be about reefing, turning the engine on, or even staying in port. Some days are just made for sitting in a bar talking about sailing. Obviously, not an option mid-atlantic!
6. There's no substitute for experience but the next best thing is to talk to people with more experience. Read books
. Chat to other sailors. Find someone who has done the trip in a similar boat. Forums
are great places for this. But always take individual opinions, including mine, with a pinch of salt
. They're just that individual opinions.
7. Learn as much as you can about weather. It's something you can work on even when you aren't sailing.
Oh, I could go on and on but will stop now.