Eleven years ago I met John and started scaling the voyaging learning curve. Since I was starting from scratch, it often seemed to me that the learning curve was vertical.
Boat handling and maintenance are only part of the cruising package. Don’t forget learning to live in a small space, dealing with isolation from friends and family, coping with a constantly changing environment, and so on. There’s no way to learn it all before going cruising, even if you start from a much more advanced position than I did.
A few years back I wrote an article for Cruising World that they called ‘My Apprenticeship at Sea’. In the article I wrote about my frustration and lack of confidence in my own abilities due to the accepted wisdom that everyone who goes cruising has to know everything about handling their boat to be safe. “What happened to the idea of being a team?” I asked.
We rely on teamwork in many aspects of our work and shore life; for instance, we don’t expect to know how to drive a city bus even if we take it to and from work every day, and we regularly commit ourselves into the hands of the driver of the car we are a passenger in without thinking too much of what might happen if s/he has a heart attack at the wheel, even though the ramifications of such an event will most likely be much more severe much more quickly than if the same thing happens on a boat at sea.
We posted my article as ‘A Prairie Woman Goes to Sea’ and I just got an e-mail about it the other day. Lydia writes [edited for brevity]:
My husband and I purchased our “Dream” off shore cruising schooner in May…It gave me some piece of mind to read your article and know that to start out I do not need to know how to replace a starter solenoid or replace a head. The latter of those two I believe I will leave to my loving husband Roger. We are a great team on our 30′ Catalina on the lake, but we have yet to get down the dance of off shore cruising…
We wish Lydia and Roger all the best in getting their boat and team ready for cruising and once they get out there.