Sailing Wimps


Aug28 1

A while back I mentioned that I had a dock neighbor in La Paz who had been working on his engine without much success. He was an Australian who had just moved aboard his new-to-him Morgan 43 five weeks earlier and intended to leave any day for Indonesia with his wife and son. I also pointed out that he and his wife circumnavigated a few years back. This was a can-do guy with plenty of bluewater miles under his keels.

Anyway, he’d done a bunch of engine work, mostly related to the injectors, but whenever he fired up the engine a cloud of white exhaust still erupted from the boat. He’d been telling me they were heading out any day now, so when he fired it up the last time and the same cloud blew out I asked him, “So what are you going to do?” As in, are you still heading across the Pacific?

He gave me a sideways smile and said in his thickest Aussie brogue, “We’re gonna go, mate.”

On my blog I mentioned that I loved that attitude. He didn’t know what was wrong with his engine—he suspected a blown head gasket—but he wasn’t about to let that stop him from sailing his boat a few thousand miles.

The next morning they were gone—an adventure underway.

Within ten minutes of me posting that short story a comment came through:

Yeah right. Like “I’ll just enter (engineless) the narrowish (upwind) entrance to Papeete harbor and make it over under sail in my crabcrusher to the quay, or perhaps continue down past the airport to Mavea beach”.

Oh and it’s not like I depend on an alternator (powered by the motor) for charging the batteries that run darn near everything.

That’s one reason I don’t monitor VHF16. Why put oneself at risk to help out those who assume “she’ll be right mate.”

The guy has abundant and reasonably priced resources available to him in LaPaz yet seems intent on eschewing that for immediate gratification. Kool …. yeah, go for it Dude.

I replied:

Pretty much proves my point. There are those that do, and are willing to accept some amount of risk, and there are those that don’t, who will not accept any risk.

This guy and his wife are already circumnavigators. Now they’ve got a new boat, a 43′ Morgan with a huge solar array, negating any need for an alternator to charge his batteries. He’s also got a home built “tow charger” made out of a length of pipe, an old outboard prop, and who knows what else. He was quite proud of it as it had been their sole means of alternative battery charging on their first trip around.

He’s not so stupid that he’d attempt to sail into Tahiti without a motor, unless conditions were right. Remember, there are other islands in the South Pacific. Moorea rings a bell, just a few miles from Tahiti.

Not to mention a smokey engine is not the end of the world. He’d done a bunch of work to the engine but didn’t want to get into a blown head gasket repair right now. I’m sure the boat will handle getting into and out of a few anchorages just fine.

Anyway, I liked the guy and I liked his attitude. He was far more a sailor than I’ll ever be, and I’m certain that he won’t be calling out on Ch. 16, “Help me, help me, I can’t charge my iPad because my engine won’t start.”

But now I realize that wasn’t the right reply. The right reply would have been a much simpler, “When did we sailors all turn into such pussies?” For lack of a better word.

There was a time, I suspect, not so many years ago, when sailors sailed their boats. They sailed them from point A to point B. They sailed them into their slips. They sailed them to their bay for the night and dropped the anchor before they dropped the main.

This was before my time. I’ve only been around boats ten years—but what—forty, fifty years ago, sailors still did this didn’t they? Not all of them, but enough that everybody in the marina didn’t come running outside when a boat still flying its main came whispering down the fairway.

In forty-thousand miles and hundreds of anchorages I can count on one hand—ah hell—I can count on three fingers the number of times I’ve witnessed somebody sail into a bay and drop their anchor, then furl their sails. And I’m pretty sure even I could do that. I emphasize that because anybody who knows me knows I’m not much of a sailor—but yes, I could anchor under sail if I wanted to. Yet I don’t. Why? Because I’m conditioned to be a sailing wimp like the rest of you.

Why is it that somebody sailing to the South Pacific with an engine that may or may not be running when they get there is such an anachronism? It really shouldn’t be that big a deal should it? It certainly shouldn’t warrant a comment suggesting that that person is going to be calling for help. It’s a sailboat for crying out loud. Why do we assume that a sailboat with no engine is going to need help? The answer: Because if we didn’t have an engine we would call for help—that’s why. We’re wimps. We can sail, but we can’t really sail. We won’t even try, we just automatically reach for the VHF or cell phone. Of course there are exceptions, but they are few and far between, and becoming even more so.

I think it’s important to remind myself—and other cruisers—that yes, you can sail to far off lands without a perfectly new, perfectly functioning diesel. You can also do it without radar, AIS, and a myriad of other gonks and gadgets. Hell, I even heard that you can go sailing without GPS, though I doubt the veracity of those claims. I mean, come on, there’s no way to determine your position on the earth without GPS—we all know that.

Really the only thing you can’t sail to far-off lands without these days is the peanut gallery telling you that you can’t.


74 Comments on “Sailing Wimps”

  1. We are still with you Pat. You have to stay honest with yourself. Forget the wannabees who never try. (wish I was as good at that as you are and have been)

  2. I’m on my third glass of wine and I haven’t had three glasses of wine in like a year and a half, so just thought I’d tell you that ‘gonks and gadgets’ made me giggle.

    That’s an alliteration.

    Also, it is hard to leave a comment on your blog. You have to click on this tiny little space to do it, but maybe I’m drunk and that’s the problem 🙂

    1. 32 oz. Big Gulp cups are not considered a glass of wine Charlotte. You know this as well as I do.

      And hey, I’ll see if I can’t scrounge up the code on that little comment button thing and up the font a bit for those with red wine mustaches. 🙂

  3. I met up with the Aussie boat a few days after your initial post, and after comparing spearfishing catches/notes, asked him about his engine. Turns out it wasn’t the head gasket, forget what it was now, but he was definitely not one of the armchair admirals who like to tell it like it is in the books and on their couch, but a guy who was able to actually take care of his own boat. No sane person is going to cross an ocean without knowing they are prepared, look up the nutters who were just rescued in the pacific to prove my point. anyways, forget all the grumpy old men at home on their computers, and lets just enjoy ourselves out here!

    1. So now he knows I blogged about him? Great. I only blog about people who I know have zero chance of stumbling across, and this guy I knew was not going to be spending time surfing the net for cruising blogs. 🙂

  4. Wimps and warriors, gadget overload and naked boats…there’s a sweet mid-point for each personality.
    Moral of the story: I sailed engineless once 50 hours tacking upwind and then into a port, loved the experience, but wouldn’t do it again as a choice, even though I sail a naked boat.

  5. Aaaaah finnaly back to your old style of posts 🙂

    Whiners everywhere (not just on water), they have no idea how liberating a different kind of life/attitude can be!

  6. Ha! This is awesome, Pat. Cheers to you for leaving SAILfeed, was nice to share the space with you there for at least a little while. Nice article. Rest assured there are some of us out there who still know how to sail…


  7. I like reading your “article style” posts here on Bumfuzzle. Not that it matters, obviously you are not looking for anyone’s approval! 🙂

  8. We had to be those wimps calling for help on the VhF once when the engine died on us. We were in the Gulf Stream and the wind died, completely died. We were comfortable just drifting until the sails became of use again, but that didn’t happen. And as the current of the gulf pulled us towards Bimini at 2knots an hour we could see the dangers of the island approaching. When we got a bit too close for comfort and still no wind in our sails, we called for assistance. That was my first sailing voyage.

    But yes, in the three years we have been out I have seen two boats come into anchor or dock under sail. I was impressed by them both.

  9. Having written articles for a couple highly trafficked sites unrelated to sailing I will share something I’ve learned: Regardless of the topic, and without fail, a given percentage of commenters will feel compelled to pick some aspect of a story and share senselessly negative rhetoric. At first I was taken aback, but then I realized…An engagement is an engagement. Turns out…The trolls keep coming back.

  10. I love this post. I think the same goes for pretty much anything nowadays…and not to be a total wet blanket, but I think it’s only going to get worse with the helicopter parenting and stuff that’ going on

  11. Interestingly enough, during the time that my husband and I have been teaching ourselves to sail, every single time something goes wrong with the engine. He has now docked under sail 3 times, including the first time he had ever been sailing a boat, and to be honest, it’s not that bad. It certainly gives us the confidence to know, hey if we can dock the thing under sail without any damage to ourselves, the boat, or other property, docking/anchoring under power is going to be a piece of cake!

    1. Well there goes my fire! When puttering around the Apostle Islands (and with the oftimes lack of winds, puttering is calculated in U.S. gallons). I became sick and tired of comments related to the impending doom surely to befall a sailboat whose engine died. ” I am not comfortable sailing this close to such and such an island. If your engine wouldn’t start, you would be on shore in a heartbeat”. And on and on. Why not go out and sail the damned boat and figure out what to do just for the hell of it? It is what you do when you sail. Sooner or later I will certainly screw up, or be in the wrong place at the wrong time, whatever.
      Pick a time and place and see if you can anchor the boat without the motor. You will have to be quicker on getting those bedsheets down, no lallygagging at a safe distance and motoring around. Practice a little, have a cold beer, see what things take too long to do, and try it again. It is you boat and it is not a contest so what the hay?
      Sometime you might be glad for the practice and the fun you had trying to get a little better. If not for youself, just think of the amusement you will be providing those of us that are already anchored. Umm yeah Honey! We should see if we could do that.
      I like Pat even better when he is thowing the colorful adjectives around. Wasn’t that one mostly for the Edina hockey players?
      Love Magic

  12. I’ve heard the name Bumfuzzle bouncing around the internet over the years that we’ve entered this dream to buy a boat and take off wherever the wind takes us. I loved this post and love your adventurous spirit! Very inspiring….there is still life, curiosity, and the courage to dare left in some people. Thanks for sharing!

  13. People like the ones commenting on the Aussie are all over the world. I was docked next to a guy in Rockport. First time he took out his 45ft Irwin he carefully programed his chart plotter with the auto pilot. On a perfectly calm clear day he left his slip and made it to the channel, at least half way. His autopilot promptly turned hard to port an onto a oyster reef. 20K in damage including a bent rudder stock. Got the boat back and getting ready to leave the second time ever, I ask him how he was. Fine he says, I doubled the waypoints on the chartplotter. Yes he did. He hit the side of the channel in the exact same place. Insurance canceled and the wife made him sell the boat. You got to just laugh.

  14. I totally agree with you. A decade ago I was stuck in Barbados. I had “expert” mechanics from the official Volvo dealer tear my engine apart and had to wait for a week ( which was not bad since I enjoyed the island and the people living on it ) for a head gasket replacement.

    After a week of wait the reassembled my 2003 Turbo with the new head gasket and could not make it start. They just looked at me and just told me they had to pull the engine out to the yard and do a complete rehaul.

    I did not have the money or the time to do this. Plus I did not trust their expertise.

    So I decided to continue my journey to Miami with no engine. It was risky. Very risky it turned out 7 days later, but it was the right decision.

    We managed to stop in Puerto Plata after a huge northely storm and then proceeded to Miami with no Engine. It takes BALLS to be a sailor. No pussys allowed on board. Only conscious big balls people.

  15. It is so much more confidence inspiring to see a captain who can drop anchor in a harbor under sail power alone than to see one who can’t but is instead confident to never need to!

    Why do people prefer to spend all of their time preventing stressors than learning how to handle themselves during stress? I know I am guilty of unnecessary “what if” preparedness. Early in my tour, I carried spare parts for things I thought I could never do without for even an hour! And then I was reminded of their burden every single day that I didn’t need them because of their extra weight and bulk. Confidence in oneself instead of in one’s things is very liberating.

    Three years in, I now know how to maintain a healthy balance of spare parts and reckless abandon.

    1. Right on Brian. I fear I have never really reached that healthy balance, generally carrying zero spare parts and acting with total reckless abandon. Everybody has their own balance though, that’s for sure. Awesome that you’re still out living it man, we’re happy for you.

  16. I’m glad you’ve chosen to post those kinds of comments here. I’m an RVer with some blue water sailing in the background, but I’ve followed this blog for years now, frankly, for the frankness…whoever the hell Frank was he’s now famous. I read sailfeed also but why not just say what’s on your mind here. I thoroughly enjoy the technical stuff as well as I’m slowly becoming a Mr. Fixitmyself kinda guy AND your thoughts on sailing and all that it involves. Carry on, spill the beans, sallyforth, tell it like it is. Love it!!!

  17. Not that I’m bad at engines, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve arrived somewhere without an engine; there was the time I docked an Oyster 55 in St Martin with a broken prop shaft, the time I sailed a Swan 65 into Falmouth Hbr Antigua and anchored under sail after a transatlantic, the time I anchored a farr 68 ex-raceboat in St John VI, the time I left Bermuda with a distressed Swan 65 that had no working engine when I left or when I docked in Newport, or last weekend when I sailed up to the mooring on my own C&C 40.
    there was a truly great letter to the editor in the latest CW excoriating them for printing a pic in the magazine that featured a kid sailing on his folks boat sans lifejacket. The author went on to suggest that it was irresponsible to sail without a lifejacket for anyone at any time. idiot!
    I miss your stuff on Sail Feed, though I still enjoy it, but I understand your point about peanuts!
    Happy sailing!

  18. Hey Pat: We miss having you at SAILfeed, but I’m happy to see you’ll be spouting off more about sailing back here at home base. I agree with this post entirely. I’ve set off on long passages a couple of times with dodgy engines, and I’ve finished a couple with no working engine at all. Top priorities are the rig and the hull–that’s all you need to get somewhere! cheers! charlie

    1. Thanks Charlie. Yeah, it just seems like most of us out here have begun to forget that these are in fact sailboats and can get us where we’re going eventually with or without an engine. Of course now that I read the comments I see there are more than a few sailors left.

  19. hay pat–that aussie had it right–leave when ye want to and fix underway—i havent been sans engine yet, but my legs, as in fuel tankage are short–we fixing that–in barra—
    haveben considering mazatlan as a haulout place, but not sure as yet..still dealing with causes of my runaway diesel!!!!..

          1. I have experience using them for fresh water and it’s mixed. The last few gallons never want to pump out. That said, I think if our fuel tank went I would definitely put it on my “options” list. When we were headed south I priced them out and found that they aren’t as expensive as I thought. I ended up buying extra jerry cans. I think that the flexible nature of the bladders means that sometimes they should really be rated for a little less capacity. If you can live with that downside the. They are great (at least for water).

  20. I sailed a 16ft to the doc one day simply because it didn’t have an engine.
    Then I developed the following motto: “it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have that matters”.

  21. Great response and write up, no question.

    I had a fellow come up to me a couple days ago after seeing my BMW beater bike. Beater to some eyes, but with a 44 liter tank, dual suspension from the old school, and an ample hauling system, ready for anything.

    He asked “…I want to go to Alaska, but I can’t get anyone else to go with me…”. I told him to go it alone (as I always have). Know your machine, carry an ample tool kit, and be confidant. He listened intently, thanked me, then walked off.

    Moments later I saw him hugging a girl 20 years his junior and getting on a dresser Harley that looked like showroom new. I thought “he better carry an Amex card and tech with him…” and got another beer.

  22. Love your POV. It resonates all too well. While I don’t see starting a voyage without an engine, we do lament that push-button sailing has changed the dynamics of cruising. In my head it ties this back to what feels like a very different vibe to what we experienced when dipping our toes into cruising in the mid-1990s. Without the toys, there were more “problems” (by some definitions) maybe, but you could count on your neighbors to help instead of belching generator smoke in your direction from inside a closed-up cabin while they ran the AC and charged their ipads…

  23. +1 on the positive comments. Tough last sail you had Pat but you’ll get your arse out there again too. All the best.

  24. I have been following your blog, read your book and recommended both to others for years. I certainly admire the spirit of adventure that shades your life decisions, whether it’s taking off for quick trip around the world, or choosing Mexico. And I agree that most people let fear of…what, the unknown? Of not being in control? Of stepping outside their comfort zones?… be their guide. It’s refreshing to have a little adventure, embrace self reliance and take some risks.

    With all that said, when I read about your aborted trip from San Carlos I couldn’t help thinking that if you had sorted your boat out before you left, including making sure the engine was in good shape, you would have puttered on down to Mazatlan with nary a second thought. It’s not hard to get the boat right, it just takes some time and money. I’ll wager that the cost of having the engine rebuilt, the shaft properly installed, etc. would been less than it cost you in terms of time and
    money to sail halfway to Mazatlan and back and go through all that frustration. In my opinion, there is much value in keeping your boat in good condition. It leaves you free to enjoy the wonders of sailing, instead of fixing stuff all the time. On our last trip to Mexico we met plenty folks who sort of staggered from place to place, constantly putting bandaids on jury rigged half repairs. We also met many who were well prepared for the adventures they were having, and I would say the “well prepareds” spent more time enjoying the places they visited than the “fixing something all the time” crowd.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing you, what you’re doing is a thousand times more fun and interesting than what the vast majority of people spend their time on this planet doing. I am, however, suggesting that you may want to consider the value of having your boat dialed in so you can maximize the time you spend sharing in the lives of the people you love.

    1. Totally agree with you that all it would have taken is some time and money. Seeing as how I had already been away from the kids and Ali for a week, and was due to meet them in Mazatlan in one week more, I chose to try and make a shortcut “repair” to get me to Mazatlan where I would have all the time in the world over the summer to fix the boat properly. Turns out it didn’t work. Oh well. Thing is, even if I had fixed the engine the transmission still would have fallen apart on me enroute, leaving me engineless at some point anyway. So a decision to turn around or press on was inevitable either way.

      I’d also agree that the well-prepared probably did spend more time enjoying the places they visited than the fixing something all the time crowd. I would wager however that the well-prepared group spent many more years on average preparing than did the others who were probably already in Mexico sailing and fixing things years before the others left their jobs. Maybe, maybe not—that’s just my guess.

      1. As long as we’re wagering, I’ll wager that the vast majority of people who spend years preparing their boats for the Big Voyage, never get out of Dodge at all.

  25. My father-in-law used to say, “there’s a butt for every seat”. Sailing with or without a motor or just plain motoring, from my position, (anchored to shore) they all sound good. 🙂

  26. Leaving a safe anchorage when you could stay and fix it seems to me to be the easiest thing to do. It’s harder to stay in the heat of the marina and repair necessary items, like an engine, when you would rather sail out into the glories of nature or just go do other things in life that are a helluva lot more fun (like getting teeth pulled). I did read the comment that his engine was eventually fixed, and good on him for that, but it’s the thinking that he’s self-sufficient that causes me to recoil. Self sufficiency is about being prepared, and he did not take the time for that. Pat, I would think your recent adventure would underscore the point, although I think you handled each crisis like admirably.

    As for the gadget sailors, well I confess, I have the dreaded GPS that got Ali and Pat around the world with nary a sextant in sight. That wondrous Bumfuzzle adventure would NOT have been possible without a lot of money spent on a relatively gadget filled boat with TWO motors. I highly respect the Bumfuzzles for their accomplishments and call them friends (and its not because they make adorable offspring, even if true) but thinking you could probably sail onto an anchor is nice, but knowing how and when to prioritize (so the rest of us don’t have to save you) is commendable. And just one more thing; if you mean being a pussy is acting like a girl, then I am pleased because I think we should all act more like girls, what do you think Ali?

    1. But again, you’re insisting that without a fully serviced engine that a sailboat is unprepared to go sailing. I disagree. Many don’t.

      I have never met a sailor who uses a sextant or even claims to know how to use one. Not that I ask people this question, but I find it amusing that it is even a part of our sailing dialogue. Ever notice how older sailors claim that GPS was the beginning of the end of the “good sailing days.” Yet those same sailors are the ones who ushered in this technology via Lorans, or whatever all those old-fashioned radio signal locater things were. They embraced it right from the start, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking GenX was the first to come along with GPS on their boats, their parents invented it and handed it down to them. And yes, thank you to them for that, as Ali and I would not have even attempted to sail off into the sunset pre-GPS days. I certainly don’t deny that. I think there used to be a much steeper learning curve to be able to sail away from land, but that most of the obstacles no longer exist.

      Anyway, my point is simply that this guy I was talking about is an accomplished sailor who was confident enough in both himself and his wife to set off with an engine that wasn’t 100%. Or even 50%. Because he’s a SAILOR, not a STINKPOTTER. 🙂

      1. You make good points. When sextants were coming into use, I’m sure there were those that said they were “too complicated, needed the good clock and nav tables. Better keep the reliable backstaff in case you drop that new-fangled gadget and make it useless.”

  27. Love it! While my husband and I sailed in the Sea of Cortez last year, we made due with far fewer gadgets and gizmos than the rest of most folks. Honestly, it was mostly because we couldn’t afford them. In hindsight, we’re so glad that we were forced to go simple and small. We because better sailors because of it!
    – Katie and Mark

  28. When I was teaching sailing full-time, I always insisted every student practice anchoring, docking, and doing everything under sail alone. I’d point out, “If you sail long enough, there will come a day when you don’t have a choice. You don’t want that time to be your first time. You want to have a few with the engine idling as a safety net.”

    Yes, it did happen t me, more than once. Each time, I safely put the boat in my slip, took up my mooring, or anchored without drama or damage. It’s good to practice what you preach. Even thinking through how you’ll do it is good as each time will be different from the last.

  29. We sailors seem to have very short memories. We have been sailing without engines for thousands of years. We have sailed unchartered waters and mapped out the known world by sail alone long before even the steam engine was invented. As for the comment regarding the horror of a current drawing an engine-less sailboat towards a shore on a windless day, I have to respond, that’s what anchors are for. The fact is, unless you learn how to sail without engine, or forget to bring an anchor (or two), you are much more likely to be the person on the VHF calling for help than those of us who do sail, engine or no engine.

    1. Many years ago, after a fun weekend in Catalina we departed Emerald Bay in my engineless 25 footer bound for Long Beach. Well, as night fell the wind dropped to zero right about when we were crossing the shipping lane. So we bobbed along all night as the freighters whizzed by. While the night was beautiful and the company was excellent, I was still scared of getting run over by a freighter. See, we like to think of ourselves as self reliant, filled with knowledge of the sea, and can tie a bowline with one hand. But unfortunately the world doesn’t care about that. If you’re adrift in your jaunty little engineless yacht and can’t get out of the way of a freighter what are you going to tell the families of the crew you lost? The world has changed from the days of wooden ships and iron men. Back then, when the wind died everybody stopped. These days ships don’t stop, and they don’t pay attention to romantic souls drifting along in the moonlight.

      I should also say that back in the days when men mapped the world in wooden boats going to sea was dangerous work and plenty of people were lost as they struggled to chart the coasts that we now enjoy. In my experience the ones who boast the loudest about what bold sailors they are, are usually the first to reach for the vhf or their cell phones when things go wrong.

  30. From what I recall Lin and Larry Pardey sailed the world for many decades, and never had a motor on board. They never saw the need and couldn’t justify the space. They are still sailing that way today.

  31. “Lin and Larry Pardey are a married couple famous internationally for their expertise in small boat sailing. They have sailed over 200,000 miles together, having circumnavigated the world both east-about and west-about. They have also sailed westward (against the prevailing winds) past all the great southern capes, including Cape Horn. Larry, assisted by Lin, built the two boats they used for two circumnavigations. Both boats were under 30 feet and were designed by Lyle Hess. Neither boat had an engine (except for an outboard on the dinghy which they carried on board Taleisin). They have also delivered race boats and charter boats.”

  32. Just finished your first book. Good read. You took your chances and they worked out. I am wondering now that you have two children is that 99% we will be safe still apply? He should have fixed the engine before he left, no false bravado.

    1. Fifty years ago it wasn’t considered false bravado to sail with a bum engine, so I guess my question is why is it now? What has changed? I think the answer is that men are hardly men any more. Besides, in this instance he was sailing from Mexico to the Marquesas—where was he even going to need an engine? Entering Nuku Hiva? If you’ve never sailed into Taioha’e Bay you should hop on Google and take a look at it. A four year-old could make that pass and anchor under sail. I’m glad he went. I hope someday I hear about how it worked out.

  33. Love this post. Reminds me of going sailing as scheduled a few years past when I had run out of fuel arriving (stupidly). Choices were try to get fuel where we were (no services) or daysail to where there was fuel. We sailed (it was blowing 30) and my only worry was that if we encountered someone who needed help we wouldn’t be in a position to assist.
    Docking under sail in those conditions was nervewracking but fine (since we only displace 13K lbs so a few hands and lines were able to control once we got alongside and just upwind of pier). The punchline was that the only accessible fuel dock was the “high capacity” diesel fuel dock for megayachts. No one was there but the dockmaster tried to refuse to fuel me, trying to tell me the nozzle wouldn’t fit. I finally told him we weren’t leaving without fuel, and had a bucket I was prepared to fill and transfer the fuel. The nozzle fit, of course, and the guy had to deal with a mere $120 fuel purchase. there were no circling megayachts incidentally.

    Bottom line- the above was an example of skills I have because I do occasionally leave my slip without using the engine, and do anchor under sail occasionally as well. Part of it is to keep my engine from starting for 3 light minutes, but part also to keep these skills. Mainly, though, sailing is more fun than motoring. Try telling that to all the dock queens you see on the Chesapeake motoring with no sails up in 10-15 knots on a broad reach heading.

  34. Well not to start an argument but I am wondering about my question. In your book you mentioned the chance of getting attacked by pirates were in the 1% range. You said you would advise investment if the chance of successs was 99% so why not go on and take your chances. Now that you have two lovely children, are you more careful?

    1. Sorry, missed your question. Why would this question start an argument?

      I don’t know that I’m more careful now. I mean, can you really be more careful than 99 percent? But your question is about pirates and the Gulf of Aden. I’ve been asked this question a lot actually. My answer is that if I were in Thailand right now and trying to decide my next passage it wouldn’t include going the Red Sea route. If it were just Ali, and I and we wanted to go back to Europe, I would make that run, but not with the kids. In part because I’m not so sure the odds are 99% favorable any more. There’s a vast difference between 95% and 99%. But really we wouldn’t make that run anyway because we have no desire to sail to Europe again. We’d go the South Africa route and then across to Brazil from there. We passed through in 2005, and I think the odds were even better than 99% back then, so my comment related to those odds of pirate attack. Also, attacks back then (to the best of my recollection) usually ended with being robbed, they didn’t include being kidnapped or murdered. So again, it was an easy decision back then. At least for the two of us. If we’d had kids with us in 2005 I would have done the same thing.

  35. I have just started sailing mono hulls after a 30 years of beach cat sailing. I was wondering, when you got to the Bahamas that first time what was the one skill that you wish you had a better handle on before you left. I am retiring next year and am going cruising. I have already discovered that I didn’t know anything about anchoring.

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