When I watched my friend purchase a sailboat via e-mail and Craigslist while we were stationed in Iraq, I thought he was crazy. He’d never sailed before, he had only read about it in books. All I could think of was the old saying, “If it floats, flies, or f–ks, you’re better off renting it.” It seemed like a pointless money pit at the time.
Then we actually took it out, and I was hooked. I was amazed by the simplicity and awesomeness of the sport. The idea of reaching far-off destinations with the wind mostly propelling me everywhere had instant appeal. If you’re considering sailing, there are a lot of good reasons to jump in and get involved. These are just a few of the great reasons I’ve discovered to take up sailing:
1.) It’s fun – Ok this one’s pretty obvious. But seriously, for me, no other sport leaves me with such an exhilarating feeling. When your boat’s rail is buried hard in the water on a close reach, or you’re anchored somewhere cracking open a beer to watch the sunset, either extreme brings a lot of satisfaction and happiness. No matter how rough the day is, you know you’re having moments that a lot of other people can’t experience anywhere else.
2.) You Gain Skills – When I first purchased my boat, I knew almost nothing about construction and handiwork. I grew up doing yardwork and dishes in the house, with an occasional visit to a Habitat for Humanity build. But I never really gained those “homeowner repair skills” like some kids do. That all changed with the boat. When you hang out on your boat you quickly start to notice a lot of issues that need to be fixed or conveniences you’d like to add. With the boatyards charging an arm and a leg for the small projects, I was forced to learn the skills to fix and improve a boat myself. Today, I’m really thankful for it, because when I go cruising, I’m going to need all of them to keep me going.
3.) You Meet Interesting People – This is really dependent on where you sail, but where I’m located in Savannah has some really fascinating and compelling people that cruise on their sailboats. There’s the printing company CEO who quit his 40s to take up painting full time, the daredevil forest ranger pilot that douses fires, or the British couple that’s sailed hundreds of miles. This is just a small selection of the people I’ve met in such a short time. Being next to the Intracoastal Waterway, you also meet a lot of interesting transients that pass through as well. I’ve met French, British, and Canadian sailors that have passed through Savannah. I’m really looking forward to meeting more fascinating people when I start my journey.
4.) You enjoy High Gas Mileage – Does it hurt a little more now when I fire up my little outboard coming into the docks? Sure. But not as bad as the powerboats blowing by me on the Wilmington River. Trust me, they are hurting a lot with these higher gas prices. With the wind, I always know I can (eventually) reach my next destination. Where I have the potential to circumnavigate the entire world on a budget, power boats see the Great Circle loop around America as an expensive proposition.
5.) You Travel in Style – With the right boat and the right equipment, your boat can literally take you anywhere. For a guy who likes his freedom and personal space, that holds a lot of appeal for me. In the words of Mark Twain, to “throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover,” holds a lot appeal for me. Growing up, I didn’t do a lot of traveling to foreign countries. While I thought about getting out and using some air miles to check out a few destinations, the idea of sailing there is a story and an adventure in of itself. Even if the country I arrive at sucks, at least I had an interesting time getting there.
These are the main reasons that attract me to the cruising and sailing lifestyle. What are your reasons for wanting to sail? If you already sail, what do you enjoy about it?