HOW TO SAIL ON YACHTS
If you ever have the chance to sail, do it. No matter what. I understand being afraid of seasickness or treacherous storms, but the trade-off to most likely lay in the sun and become one with the wind and water, are totally worth it. My relationship with sailing began as I flipped my boat on Lake Virginia during my first sailing class in college. My partner and I swam to the surface and retrieved the small sunfish before it “turtled over”. After learning how the wind and water worked simultaneously, I decided to get back on a boat just after graduating and played the role of a deckhand and stewardess working for a few fleets. It was more than easy to fall in love with swimming in clear waters, catching and eating fresh seafood and exploring new islands. The big blue oceans are the globe’s most humbling yet satisfying playground. Check out tips for chartering boats, marine life, packing, volunteering and working on yachts and the top destinations for boating in the world below.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF MONEY WASN’T AN OPTION?
If chartering a boat is out of your budget, would you dive into the maritime industry or volunteer to work on one, such as I did? If so, email me any questions on seeking crew placement or sailing training! Websites now such as Work Away have recently added captains as hosts for volunteer work as a means to travel. There are also numerous Facebook pages seeking international crew members. Train yourself, offer day work to a captain for returned skills. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out (may or may not be limited to cleaning up people’s vomit from seasickness while working on a charter tour, OR sailing the Caribbean in a bikini while throwing back beers with a cool skipper). Are you ready to get wet?
REASONS TO SAIL
- You’ll have unique experiences that you simply wouldn’t encounter on land, especially in solitude or with good company
- Boating establishes a feeling of community on the water. Fellow boaters are known for being there to help one another and for offering words of advice. Some boaters might even offer extra fish they catch if you spark up a friendship while moored up in the same cay
- Sailing forces your body awareness to wake up while having a beautiful, kinesthetic experience. The wind hits: you feel the hull lift beneath you. You respond: hiking out, pressing the boat down with your weight. Waves strike: you’re thrown back and forth. Your answer: torquing your upper body, lifting the bow over the crests
- If you’re actively sailing and not just relaxing on a luxurious yacht, you’ll find it’s a mental and physical work out on top of the water
- The tension of modern living is temporarily gone. You get a sense of freedom and opportunity, as you always continue to see what lies on the other side of the horizon
- Depending on where you can see tons of animals most do not get to see. This can be an extremely educational benefit to young children, learning about marine animals
- You feel a strong connection to the elements and nature, but also with the entire world
THE PHYSICS OF SAILING
Isaac Newton’s second law of motion is the science behind sailing. There are two main components of a sailboat which enable it to move forward effectively: the sail and the keel. Thus, the physics involves the interaction of the wind and sails and the interaction of the water and keel. Pushing the boat forward. There are 3 common sails used, the mainsail, genoa, and spinnaker. Factors influencing currents: developed force from horizontal differences in the sea density causing gradient currents, tidal force, wind force and topographic characteristics of the coast and sea bottom.
HOW TO PACK FOR A SAILING TRIP
Clothing: It’s okay to go a little crazy in the swimsuit department, especially since they don’t take up much room in a backpack. YOU CANNOT forget to wash your bathing suits after usage, or else they will begin to smell wretched because of the salt water. Shorts are essential, especially for when you anchor up at a port and need to fetch groceries on the mainland. You might be tempted to bring your cutest sundress and hats, but it truly is better to keep it simple with sports clothes. Also, this attire usually is light-weight and dries easily. You must also take into account poor weather, cold rainy days. So just in case, bring one pair of long pants, a hoodie, or even a rain jacket (captains sometimes have emergency florescent ones on board). Hats will go a long way in regards to sun protection and being able to see the water or things in the distance (animals, ships, rocks). Don’t get attached to it very much, as it may desert you on the way. It will do wonders to shelter your face from the scorching sun. In addition, SUNGLASSES SUNGLASS SUNGLASSES SUNGLASSES! I also definitely suggest polarized sunnies – they really come in handy to see the depth of the water. Footwear: Shoes are not allowed on-board most boats… However, flip-flops are still a pre-requisite because you’ll need them on shore at stores or at marinas. Lastly and most importantly, bring storm gear like a rainproof jacket, windbreaker, sailing gloves, etc). Beauty & Health: SUNBLOCK! I suggest at the very least SPF30, even if you were aiming for a Brazilian tan. With my Cuban blood, I usually don’t burn – but I still used sunscreen to protect my skin. You are around constant magnified sunbeams on top of the boat’s surfaces and water surrounding you. Sailing is conductive to sunburns since the wind takes away the awareness of how much sun there is (even if it is cloudy). Bring a deep conditioner for your locks, because sun/sea/salt simply make a bird’s nest out of most manes. If you care about hair manageability at sea, you’ll need industrial-strength conditioners or oils.
We must remember while boating to always respect the marine life. The aquatic mammals rely on the oceans and other marine ecosystems for their existence. Some of these animals you may see while sailing includes seals, whales, manatees, sea otters, dolphins, sharks, octopus and so many more. If you encounter an animal up close to your boat, simply watch from your distance. Do not try to catch these creatures, yet rather be grateful you are seeing them up so close!
TOP SAILING DESTINATIONS (ACCORDING TO MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE COMBINED WITH RESEARCH FROM CRUISING WORLD):
ABACOS AND EXUMA ISLANDS, BAHAMAS
The Caribbean sea offers secluded villages as you sail and explore the Abaco Islands. Deep sea fishing here is an absolute must. My personal favourite catches are the snapper, mahi, mussels and occasional wahoo if you’re lucky. In the Exuma Island chain, check out Staniel Cay and Highbourne Cay for easy mooring access and beautiful sunsets. You’ll also find the world’s largest national park on water here! Some common animals you’ll spot are lemon sharks, bull sharks, dolphins, and stingrays. The Bahamian people are the most kind you’ll ever meet and the small villages food prices won’t disappoint.
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND
This town is where I first started sailing outside of college. I have worked the past 2 summers for two fleets as a first stew and deckhand. New England offers numerous seaside boating towns, but Newport is surely the best as one of America’s premier yachting centers. It is known as the “Sailing Capital of the World,” because it was home to America’s Cup for half a century. The picturesque city has charm, big boats, and warm chowder after a long day at sea. There are three beaches you can launch from in Newport, which is located on Aquidneck Island. Also the home of the New England Laser Masters Regatta. While you’re in town, check out the Cliff Walk to see old mansions as well as the harbor and Narragansett Bay.
The mostly uninhabited, wild and rugged islands of the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia are becoming the most popular cruising area in the Mediterranean Sea right now. This is probably due to personal yachts and charter boats pouring in for summer festivals, such as Euro Ultra and the infamous Yacht Week. The Adriatic Sea covers an area of 138,595km and the length of the Croatian coastline is 6278k. Internal waters and sea territories of the country include 1242 islands, islets and rocks. The deepest part of this sea is 1233m. Sailing Croatia can be divided into three sections, north, middle and south Dalmatia. From my experience, the north is beautiful and less touristy, but that means more anchorages and bays (not as many convenient marinas and harbors as the middle). The big and beautiful islands to visit include Hvar, Korcula, Brac and Vis. (See upcoming separate Croatia article for specific towns). During the summer months, beware of the Bora (wind storm), which causes high swells. This storm can increase current rates drastically. National parks include Archipelago of Brijuni, The Krka River, Island of Mljet and Archipelago of Kornati.
The ancient turquoise sea offers a perfect getaway for the bareboat charterer with an appetite for bigger adventures. Every sailor should sail the clear blue waters of the Lycian or Carian Coast in Turkey at least once. This timeless part of the world is one of the most relaxing spots on the planet, offering the chance to completely recharge among breathtaking surroundings. During the long, typically idyllic, summer, you’ll find moderate seas and good winds that make sailing the deep water bays and mountainous coastline a sublime experience. Visit sleepy fishing villages as well as bustling towns and historic sites for an unforgettable sailing getaway.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
With pristine white sand, luxury waterfront hotels and fresh seafood in fancy restaurants, the British Virgin Islands have it all as a true sailing world. More than 40 islands dot across the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, and hundreds of anchorage points. There are luxurious yacht clubs which feature views overlooking North Sound, such as the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda (currently undergoing reconstruction after Hurricane Irma). Surrounded by idyllic surroundings, you’ll also find a variety of boats. The island was named No. 1 in the entire Caribbean by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine for its “abundance of natural beauty, indigenous plant-lined trails and the natural wonders of its protected national parks, as well as The Baths, a popular attraction where huge granite boulders create mysterious grottos, saltwater pools and a connecting trail enticing visitors to swim and snorkel”.
For the Greeks, sailing has been a part of life since prehistoric times. With about 6,000 islands in Greece, you’ll find an endless number of ports to stop in, with each offering a different feel and character. Sailing is really the best way to experience these islands, setting your own island-hopping itinerary, finding secluded spots for lovers to dine on octopus and ouzo on the beach. There are traditional whitewashed villages and ruins near shores. The sun shines continuously in this paradise. Some of the most popular including the Cyclades and the Ionians.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA
Had to rep my home state, with due reason. It has over 300 miles of waterways and more than 40,000 resident yachts. Fort Lauderdale has even been nicknamed the “Venice of America.” It borders the Atlantic but is also crisscrossed by the Intracoastal Waterway as well as some rivers, several lakes and hundreds of canals. The city also hosts the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, one of the largest of its kind. You’ll find extravagant super-yachts or average-sized boats.
Probably the most romantic of these spots is the French Riviera. This Mediterranean coastline along the southeast corner of France is packed with stunning beaches, private inlets and surprising islands. This is where celebrities go for the glitzy scandals. The large cosmopolitan resorts of Nice, Saint-Tropez and Cannes feature everything from yachts to billion dollar mansions. For more affordable sailing, visit Marseille, Cannes or Antibes.
BAY OF ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand as a nation has given us some of the world’s best sailors. It also has one of the highest per-capita rates of boat ownership on the planet. There are countless coves in roughly 150 islands that have escaped development. Hundreds of yachts that drop down here from the tropics during cyclone season. These waters are also known for their big game fishing.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
The 74 stunning islands under cloudless skies mostly all belong to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. This part of earth is even one of the seven wonders of the natural world. It is known for sea turtles, an array of colorful fish and unfortunately dying coral gardens. Sailing here provides the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive, and never get tired of it. There are tours that cater to everyone from beginners to the most experienced.
Christopher Columbus arrived here before setting sail to discover the New World, which has left it a popular tourist destination. Sailing industry has boomed quickly and there is the ever increasing number of yachts based in the island’s marinas. This archipelago is an autonomous region of Spain. It is divided into two provinces: Gran Canaria with the islands Lanzarote and Fuerteventura; and Tenerife consisting of the islands of La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro.
Sailing in the middle of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania is said to be like being transported through the centuries. Imagine the ancient kingdoms of Persia and sultans sailing to the west coast of India. The old Stone Town where most arrive is said to be one of Africa’s most evocative locations. Picture-perfect beaches are trademarks of the Spice Island where you can do some first-class snorkelling.
SAILING MIGHT NOT BE FOR YOU IF
- The idea of cooking meals while swaying and most likely spilling food / getting burnt from moving pans makes you nauseous
- Those whom have some phobias about deep water or a base that shifts below them
- If the idea of being patient with the weather for the rest of your cruising course makes you roll your eyes
- Water is a naturally unstable environment, therefore you can’t just put a boat in “park” like you can with a car. It requires constant subconscious focus and respect to mother nature
- If your definition of a hot shower does not include a 5-gallon solar shower strapped to your boom that you have to wait a few hours to heat up before showering, you need to adjust your definition
- If you have severe skin issues and reactions to too much sunlight or acquire sun poisoning easily
- It can be smelly, people can vomit, it can be dangerous and you will most likely not have service or wifi for the entire period of time. You may not be able to sleep, you will have a lack of showering and eating to your normal standard
If those factors don’t turn you away, what next?
If considering buying a boat, remember you’ll be investing in insurance, maintenance, and fuel (for power boats) and/or storage. Although most people don’t realize how affordable boating is: in some instances, you can buy a brand new boat financed for around $250.00 a month, like a car. Boats provide tax-deductible and cost-effective second homes or your vacations for the rest of your life. Interest on a boat loan can be deducted if the boat has a galley, berth and head. Visit a boat show to see what boating products are available and line up the best deals. Remember to have the proper documents proving that the master is qualified to operate the vessel, certificate of third-party insurance, certificate of ownership or the right of possession for the vessel.
SAFETY & METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION
Wind felt on the face, a few whitecaps and leaves rustling ashore can quickly turn into a gale. Hurricanes, uprooted trees, exceptionally high wave swells, low visibility, and air filled with foam and a sea completely white with sea spray can come out of nowhere on the ocean.
Always ensure you have a proper maritime radio service to establish a connection between your boat and the shore radio stations. The purposes of this may include rescue service, urgent broadcasting information to ships in distress.