Originally Posted by MarkJ
Buddy boating is abjectly wrong unless its two mates heading to the same bar.
Reason is simple: You don't learn nuthin unless the whole shebang is up to you.
You must learn to do every nav decision yourself, for better or for worse. Follow someone elses course and you have not gone anywhere yourself.
Its the same with every tactical decision: you need to tack when you decide to tack, even altering 1 degree needs to be your decision, not some boat up ahead or behind.
Its the same as having a skipper
on board - you dont learn a thing because he is there looking over your shoulder.
FEAR. Everyone gets it but you cant get over yours untill you get out and do it yourself. Then you will have the confidence for the next, bigger, challange.
If you have friends on another boat going to the next same port as you, leave an hour earlier, a few hours later or leave last night or tomorrow. You still get to the same place and have fun together
The best answer I have seen or heard on this issue, particularly related to the cases where less experienced sailors have some lack of confidence in their boat, their skills, or their safety.
Sometimes experienced sailors do try to sail in company of other boats.
I left Kauai
as crew on a boat at the same time as two other boats, all about the same size. All three boats headed towards San Francisco
. We communicated by radio
for 2-3 days, on a schedule because one of the other boats had a weather
fax. We could occasionally see their sails
on the horizon. We had no GPS
. After a few days (3) the engine
on our boat had a problem when we attempted to use it to charge batteries. The experienced skipper on my boat could not fix it. He radioed for help from the other boat, which had a professional diesel mechanic
aboard. We met a few hours later. The nice and helpful mechanic
swam over, looked at the engine
for a while and could not fix it. From that point on, we did not use the engine for the rest of the voyage (about 2,500 NM total). After the mechanic swam back to his boat, and we began sailing again, we tried to stay in touch because that boat had a weather
After a few hours it was dark and we never saw that boat again. After another few hours we lost
touch via radio.
Summary? While three similar boats left at the same time, going to the same destination
and using a similar route
, and agreed to stay in radio contact, after four days the boats were separated and never in contact again. The ocean is vast.
Lesson? Don't count on some other buddy boat to be there to help you on long ocean passages. It also made me appreciate that our boat was a sailboat, and not totally dependent on the engine.
I hope that helps someone consider the practicality of having a buddy boat on a long passage. Of course this is just one experience and there will be others who have very different stories to tell. That is mine. Fair winds!