What Really Matters—The Big Five, Revisited

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Some years ago, while preparing for one of our high latitude voyages, Phyllis and I were feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed by our task list, to the point we were starting to wonder if it was all worth it.

But rather than postponing the voyage, or changing to easier goals, we came up with a list of what really matters in offshore sailing. And using that list we got better at prioritizing, and that in turn led to many more successful voyages over the years with less stress.

In fact, the list worked so well that it became the core of our voyaging philosophy.

And other voyaging writers quoted the list, which was cool.

For many years we displayed The Big Five, as we call it, in the sidebar of this site. But last winter it went missing in our site redesign and simplification.

And then this week, a writer new to Attainable Adventure Cruising referred to The Big Five in an article that Phyllis is editing and we were reminded of one of the most useful things we have come up with in 20 years of writing about offshore voyaging.

So we thought we’d share, for those of you who may have missed The Big Five.

What Really Matters:

  • Keep the water out.
  • Keep the crew on the boat.
  • Keep the keel side down.
  • Keep the mast up.
  • Keep the rudder on.

Everything else is small stuff.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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