Wow! This is a nice thread! So nice I don't think I have much good to add. And me saying that, is NOT normal. (Anyone knowing me would call the doctor... "Stein must be seriously ill!" :-D)
But at least I can give my vote of approval to the above contributors. Sure the ocean is very capable of delivering dangers, fear and extreme discomfort. But the worst CAN be pretty well avoided by planning where you are at which times. Hurricanes are unpredictable things, but there are certain laws they never breach. Stay on the right side of Equator at the right season, and no real hurricane
will hit you. But almost as bad weather still may.
Equally helpful in avoiding trouble is vast experience (preferably some more than a weekend course), reliable gear
(boat and stuff) and avid attention to all sorts of signs, even those received by modern technical remedies... (And I don't mean Tarot cards.) :-) I generally notice that women have one disadvantage in learning boating
. They tend to have less actual experience than men
, but more importantly, they distrust the abilities they actually have. Men
believe they can manage anything, which is helpful for trying and learning
(but annoying to most others). Women also have at least one advantage: No fear of losing respect or damaging their pride, countrary to most men. This makes women listen properly, understand what it really means, and learn quicker.
And heavy weather strategies... well. There is definitely no single
solution. Different boats behave differently, and different weather situations really are different. It's not so that a certain wind
strenght in a given time will result in the one particular set of condition parameters. I've been in bad weather quite a number of times. Never two similar situations. One has to know ones own boat and have the remedies that suits it, and be experienced in employing those remedies. Never try to set a sea anchor
for the first time in heavy weather! Very dangerous without prior practice.
Personally I prefer to use speed (mostly sail fast multis) to get where I want in the weather system. When it gets too heavy for comfort, I slow down totally (bare pole, but add tiny storm jib
balance if waves are especially difficult) and normally keep the wind about 45 degrees off the stern. When surfing gets too fast, I hang thick ropes in a long loop from one stern to the other to slow down slightly and make surface turbulence that will make wave tops brake a bit earlier and not land on top of us. If that's not enough, I add drogues. Maximum so far is three not too big ones of the cone type. Big ones, approaching sea anchors, I distrust as they are dangerous and difficult to operate due to huge loads. If it gets really hairy, proper helming is needed. (Off north Portugal
once we averaged almost 15 knots with bare pole on a 40 foot cat. Max 55- 60 knots of wind, but the biggest waves I've ever seen. Proper mountains. Setting the 5,5 square metre/60 square foot storm jib
, speed got to steady 20 knots plus. Got it down some with ropes and drogues. Still, too much! Heavy helming work and a bit scary that time.) The so called "series drogue" (a lot of very small drogues making up one long line of drogues) seems highly interesting. Haven't tried it though. But I will.
Bottom line for most cruisers is that the bad sides are such a diminutive part of it all. Long or short cruises are so totally dominated by what you put into them by your goals, your attitude and just you. The sharper edges and possible danger
and discomfort is mostly a spicy contrast that makes you remember how deeply you appreciate every day. I really mean that. I know the value of a warm day, since I live in Norway
. I also love the winter, since I remember missing wintery playfulness. Despite the shortcomings of a given harbour, you appreciate it for its safety
, comfort and social life, as you remember the opposite might be close. You also love leaving it, because you know you will cherish coming back after having found new destinations. That sort of contrast is a never ending expansion of ones perspective.
Well. I did say quite a bit anyway, but as I see it, it's just what's already been said before here, presented in another wrapping: My overly wordy version. One thing that has been kinda said, but could be repeated more clearly: All forms of cruising, weekend, costal week trips, longer journeys, living aboard
in distant waters or circumnavigations, contain possibilities of the marvelous beauty inherent in this passion we share here.
Very important: Do not let dreams of the adventurous big voyage diminish the pleasure you feel from any "smaller" cruising experience. Of course the biggest things have some colours the shorter trips lack, but some of my best moments on boats have been on two day trips... While you enjoy having distant dreams, live out other closer dreams. Suddenly the distant ones becomes close. That was my way in. Happy sailing!