“Oh how the mighty have fallen” announced my sister as I sat on my mattress on the floor in my daughter’s house surrounded by our possessions. Her judgment passed, she viewed our return from our boat and what she perceived as a major step backwards in our life’s fortunes. We are returning from our boat homeless, a much reduced bank balance, a house market that has sky rocketed in our absence and an uncertain future for myself in particular.
Yet I Think My Sister Is Missing Important Information
After my sister left I pondered the way travel and sailing had changed me.
1. Longer Term Travel Will Change Your Personality
Sailing changes the way you take on the world. I now take new things in my stride, I am calmer, more thoughtful and appreciate the day to day so much more. Dare I say it, I would even say that travel via the sea has made me a little wiser.
2. Your Patience Will Improve Dramatically
The very act of getting from one place to another by sailing boat will teach you to be patient like never before. When the sail that was expected to take 12 hours stretches into 24 you soon learn to take each hour as it comes. Never again will you be bothered by slow traffic or a queue in the supermarket. It is the process of getting there that is more important than the arrival.
3. You Appreciate The Small Things In Life
A star filled sky on a night passage, a continuous hot shower, simple kindness from a stranger as you look for directions, a great sail or perfect sunrise. It will be the little things that move you.
4. You Realise How Important The Bed That You Are Born In Is
You happen to be one of the lucky ones if you were born in a bed that affords you an opportunity to work, be educated, have health care and then the absolute privilege to take the opportunity to sail a boat, be it a tin dish or a fancy catamaran. Thank your bed every single day.
5. Your Ability To Make Friends Increases
Each port, anchorage or new country is an opportunity to meet people, experience new cultures and get a taste of the day to day lives of others. The highlight of our journeys were in the people we built relationships with, over and above the exotic locations they came from. My Facebook page is now a mix of multiple languages and photos from afar, and we will always have friends we can call upon in the places we have travelled to.
6. Your Language Will Change
When you return home you find yourself greeting and saying thanks in a multitude of different languages you acquired along the way. You discover the importance of hello, thank you, how are you and how much the local language breaks the ice. Plus you will be grateful if you are from an English speaking family for ease of travelling. The universal language of a smile and gratitude will carry you a long way.
7. You Will Become Well Versed At Fixing Things
A boat is a complex beast and even if you think you will always call a professional if you have any issues, once you take your boat away from the coastline, when things go wrong you have to help yourself. Plus you need to understand what’s going on as you travel, so you keep your boat in good working order.
8. You Discover You Can Live Without The Instant Fix
A sailing life is not always a connected life and it won’t take you long to realise it doesn’t matter. The instant gratification of modern life is no longer available to you- we didn’t miss it.
9. You Realise That You Can Do Things That You Hadn’t Thought Possible
Your self confidence will sky rocket as you master new skills. As well the unknown and new just become an opportunity to try something else. Every day there is a moment out of your comfort zone and you find out that that is ok too.
10. You Find Out That Being Alone Is OK
Sailing will afford you time to be with yourself and your partner if you sail as a couple. My fear of sailing as a couple meant we crossed our first ocean with crew, I then realised we were more than capable of doing longer legs on our own. The pay off is you have to work harder regarding watches or sail changes.
11. You Learn to Put Everything Into Perspective
Nothing like overcoming challenges at sea to make you realise that most of the day to day stuff is not that important. You will understand beyond a doubt that when you are taking your last breath, it wasn’t about what you owned but more about what you did and the relationships you shared. All you have to do is let go of fear of the unknown, or fear of not having enough and trust the process and yourself.
12. You Discover The Joy Of Wonderlust
A strong desire to travel. “A man consumed by wanderlust”This final point needs little explanation though it does explain future behaviours.