Why Sail Solo
Why Sail Solo
A question I am often asked is why sail solo? Why choose to sail by yourself when it would be much easier to sail with a crew or even double handed? Most people are too sensible to sail across oceans alone. Even the keenest of sailors would question offshore sailing in a Mini 6.50 as it is so small.
Offshore solo sailing for me is about the spirit of adventure, the challenge, and of course the racing, which appeals to my competitive side. Solo sailing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. When you sail alone, everything comes down to you and the decisions you make. You are everything on the boat: doctor, councillor, cook, and navigator. You can rely only on what you have with you, you must pick yourself up when you have a bad day and keep pushing the boat and yourself to the limit. It is not only about having physical endurance, but most importantly being mentally strong and having a positive attitude to overcome difficulties. Ultimately, it’s all down to you, the decisions you make decide whether you win or lose a race.
Of course there are moments when you think another pair of hands would be great right now: when you make a bad sail drop and you find the sail fly out of the boat backwards and you are not quite sure how you are going to get it back alone. The hardest bit for me is not being able to share exciting or funny moments, when you are lying in the cockpit in stitches of laughter after doing something silly like trying to brush my teeth with a spoon in a sleepless state.
There are challenges that come with solo sailing. You can forget about eight hours of sleep a night, more like twenty minutes at a time. When racing, more than 13 hours a day is spent helming and you must manage your sleep patterns as best you can with the needs of the boat, taking any opportunity to sleep while you can. Even when you manage to grab some time, sleeping is still a tall order, having to constantly listen to the boat for anything unusual that indicates a problem and ensuring avoidance of other boats and shipping traffic.
Cooking can also range from challenging to near impossible when the sea is really rough. The first problem is trying to get the water in the jet boil, next is trying to hold it level without burning yourself, and finally trying not to set fire to the boat during boiling, whilst simultaneously ensuring the boat still maintains upright and moving forward in a straight line.
The challenges however are what draw me to solo sailing: it makes the satisfaction at the end even greater, and the enjoyment of surfing down every wave even better