The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Getting Your Mojo Back

After a slow, lazy start to the season in Grenada, sitting at anchor waiting for spare parts to arrive, we were glad to finally get underway, even if it was only a short hop to Carriacou. Fortunately, we enjoyed ideal conditions for the crossing, always good news for your first full day’s sail.

I’ve occasionally been forced to start the season without any kind of shakedown, just straight into a pedal to the metal passage, and always hated it. Not surprising when you consider the list of things that have failed first day out, despite a solid winter’s maintenance work beforehand. Steering cables, a gooseneck fitting and a stern gland spring to mind, thankfully all within easy reach of safety and repair. Things deteriorate in mysterious ways through lack of use—and so do we.

I always find that I’m not mentally firing on all cylinders until I’ve had at least one good battering early in the season. The knowledge is all there, but the filing system is for some strange reason not fully functioning, and a good stiff shot of adrenaline is required to lubricate the thought processes.

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Marc Dacey

Very instructive and strangely familiar, as we haul out here for four to five months on Lake Ontario and the first few weeks of sailing (late April to mid-May) are not only mind-foggingly brisk, but are the point where accidents of the self-inflicted kind are most likely to occur.

Thank Neptune rum is common to both places. If the liquid doesn’t work, you can always knock yourself out with the bottle!

Colin Speedie

Hi Marc

As they say out here – ‘rum is the answer – now what’s the question?’

Best wishes


Jim Patek

As usual, a very well written article Colin along with three really nice photos, especially Pelican On A Rock. Guess we have all been in the initial three day fog.

Colin Speedie

Hi Jim

glad you liked the pelican – they’re strangely photogenic.

Best wishes



Loved this article Colin! As an adventurer-in-training hoping to melt some butter in 2016, this post was chocked full of the practical, relevant across all sailing platforms, information and experience that I appreciate so much from AAC. Many thanks to you, John, Phyllis, et al.

Colin Speedie

Hi Michael
glad you found it useful, and thanks for the kind words for AAC.
Kind regards

Pete Worrell

Wow did I relate to this piece. In the years that PATIENCE is hauled out for the New England winter, I have often said to Kareen in the spring, “wow, why do we have to always re-learn how essential it is in cruising to be practiced up and not rusty”. Pushing the weather, failing to reef ahead, dumb anchoring technique, all that and more can (and usually does) creep in. Good inspiration.

Pete & Kareen Worrell
Portsmouth, NH, USA

Colin Speedie

Hi Pete
it might be good inspiration, but it comes about through perspiration! After so many years it seems crazy that I still make it such hard work first time out.
But it seems the ‘3 day fog’ is common to us all….
Best wishes


Dick Stevenson

Colin, Our favorite trick for years was to go out for our first sail of the season feeling great and, for a much too long time, complain that our mainsail looked awful. Then, one of would realize that we had neglected the battens.
Nice article, Dick Stevenson, l/v Alchemy

Marc Dacey

I may resemble this remark. Oh, well, at least I hang the keys on the raw water intake now.

Colin Speedie

Hi Dick and Marc
First day out one year we broke a steering cable, so fitted the emergency tiller and got back to the dock, where we replaced the steering cables with some spares. I was in a hurry, so didn’t look as closely as I should at what I was doing. As we shoved off I found that I’d connected the cables the wrong way round…….
Beat that for stupid!


David B. Zaharik

Colin, be thankful it was a boat. Several years ago a Lufthansa A320 had the wiring in the ailerons backwards and on take-off, if it wasn’t for the insanely fast acting co-pilot, they would have rolled upside down at 50 feet! So my most hated saying fits “it could be worse.”

richard s. (s/v lakota)

this recalls a couple of apropos quips:
a) time spent in harbors soon rots ships and sailors both (author unknown)

b) a ship in harbor is safe, but this is not what ships are made for: julius shedd ca. ‘923

c) sailing: live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air (author unknown)

can go on and on with these truisms

richard in tampa bay (but about four weeks from thankfully heading back to the virgin isles)

Colin Speedie

Hi Richard

or perhaps Conrad’s old shellback Singleton, who remarked ‘ships are alright – it’s the men in ’em!’.

Best wishes


Adrian Evans


Hi. I believe we passed you today whilst you were heading south down the Antiguan coast. We came across in November with our Allures 45 and always make a special effort to say hi to fellow Aluminium boats owners. We’re currently at anchor in 1 1/2m of water by Great Bird Island on the north coast. We’re off to Barbuda tomorrow but will be back in Antigua by the end of the week so will watch out for you.

Adrian and Jax (Vagaris)

Colin Speedie

Hi Adrian
yes, that was us, heading back to Jolly Harbour to clear out for St Kitts. We exchanged waves!

We’d just left Gt Bird Island, so very sorry we missed you. We’ll look out for you along the way.

And you’ll love Barbuda, we’re sure.
Best wishes

John Harries

Hi Colin,

An article that really resonated with me. I wish I could say that your steering cable cross over was the dumbest rusty voyager error I had ever heard of, but sadly I can’t say that since I have done way dumber things! However, I’m sharing no details, rather, as our American friends would say, I’m taking the fifth.

Seriously, your article is a great reminder to be especially careful after time ashore. I will reread it just before we launch in the spring.