Perhaps you would agree that sailboat cruising is a luxurious hobby. You can go from one place to another, enjoying the sea, the wind, and the sky.
Sure, it gives you that romantic or magical feeling.
However, it is still important that you have the fundamental and basic skills in sailing. In his book The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, John Rousmaniere wrote:
“Limitless in her poetry, a sailboat is still restricted by the realities of wind and sea.”
How Sailboat Cruising Began
Merriam-Webster defines cruising as “sailing about to touch at a series of ports.” It usually refers to trips that lasts from a couple of days to a couple of years.
Sailboat cruising is a lifestyle that involves living on a vessel while traveling from one place to another. This cruise can also become a round-the-world voyage.
The enjoyment of cruising first appeared on Henry David Thoreau’s book, Canoeing in the Wilderness. His book chronicles his voyage in the wilderness of Maine, as well as the spiritual and lifestyle aspects of it.
Meanwhile, Scottish explorer and sportsman John MacGregor popularized our modern conception of cruising.
Before the nineteenth century, boats were exclusively used for working purposes.
Fast forward to 1980s, ocean crossing rallies like the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers were developed, encouraging sailors with less experience to do ocean crossings. Rallies provide safety inspections, weather information, and social functions to sailors crossing the same ocean.
Blue-Water Cruising and Coastal Cruising
There are two types of sailboat cruising. Depending on your level of experience or sense of adventure, you can choose between blue-water cruising and coastal cruising.
Blue-water cruising involves dealing with harsh situations at sea, making it inherently dangerous.
This type of cruising requires mental preparedness, careful planning and preparation, stocking sufficient supplies, and boat inspection.
Sailors who would go on an open-ocean voyage must study charts, weather reports, almanacs, and navigation books of the route to be followed. They are also expected to perform specific jobs and they must be well-trained at working with other sailors and the boat they need to navigate.
On the other hand, coastal cruising offers a certain degree of safety.
Countries grant “innocent passage” to sailboats, usually up to 22 km off the coast. However, ships that need to stop for repair are required to visit a customs checkpoint.
Sailboats and Equipment
Sailors can use either a sailboat or a power boat when cruising.
Sailboats are popular for cruising long distances since it is less expensive and easier to operate. They are also distinguished based on size, hull configuration, keep type, mast configuration, and sail plan.
- 1.Sloop: It is the most common modern sailboat that features one mast and two sails. The sloop’s simple configuration makes it efficient for sailing into the wind.
- 2.Cutter: It is the same as the sloop with a single mast and mainstall. However, a cutter carries the mast near or toward the stern of the sailboat.
- 3.Ketch: It is similar to sloop, although it features a second shorter mast－called mizen－near the rudder post.
- 4.Yawl: It is similar to Ketch but with a shorter mizzen designed to balance the helm.
- 5.Catboat: It is a type of sailboat that usually has a single mast and does not have a jib (the triangular sail at the front of a vessel.)
- 6.Dinghy: It is a small open sailboat used for recreation and sail training.
- 7.Schooner: It is a sailboat that usually has two or more masts. The foremast (the one at the front) is shorter than the mainmast.
On the other hand, having the right sailing equipment and knowing the proper techniques make a sailor’s voyage possible and comfortable. These include lighting and communication equipment. When it comes to food, there is the refrigeration and water-maker.
Sailors should also have knowledge in studying charts and weather reports. They need to maintain regular watch schedule to avoid collision with other sailboats or ocean vessels.
In relation to this, sailboats carry with them emergency equipment like SARTs, EPIRBs, and life rafts or lifeboats. Medical emergency can also occur, that’s why it is important to have medical kits and to have some first aid knowledge.
Sailboat Cruising Is Not Just a Leisure
Sailboat cruising may look like something a person with a lot of time and money can do.
However, it requires knowledge on various sailing techniques and equipment－especially if you will go blue-water sailing.
That’s because you may encounter harsh situations whether you are sailing in open ocean or near the coast. This includes bad weather and piracy.
In addition, a sailboat must undergo inspection.
The sailors must have adequate knowledge on social functions required when cruising the sea. Nonetheless, sailboat cruising is a lifestyle that allows you to go to different places while getting close to nature.