Some people enjoy the comfort and predictability of cruising waters and conditions that are tried and true. For sailors in the Pacific North-West, this usually means a jaunt to the Gulf Islands or Desolation Sound in periods of settled weather. For all of us, sailing, especially cruising, is a way to unplug ourselves from our busy lives and live more simply, moment by moment. Cruising to old favorites in benign conditions provides this opportunity and asks little of us in return.
For others, there is a siren song of the unknown that is impossible to ignore. It is the same call that pulls some of us into the backcountry, to off-the-beaten-track travel destinations, or offshore in small boats. It is the lack of predictability that makes these journeys and destinations compelling; the thrill of not knowing what will happen next. This is the essence of adventure.
The search for adventure does not need a new destination – familiar places in challenging conditions provide much the same reward as new places in settled conditions. It’s the “what if” factor that matters. When we started sailing, stories from more experienced sailors about big trips or sailing in heavy weather elicited awe and consternation. We wondered what it’s like to sail in a gale, and if we could handle it. We wondered about running tidal rapids and sailing in the swell of the open ocean. Mostly we wondered about ourselves and our ability to cope with these scenarios.
We like to push things when we head out on the boat – ourselves, our boat, our boundaries. We crave the feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing things that seem intimidating – conquering our fears. We’ve answered the questions we had when we started, but these have been replaced with new questions. One of the best things about sailing is that the learning is endless.
One thing we are pretty sure about though is that our fears are almost always worse than the reality. In fact, we haven’t had a sailing experience that gives proof to the contrary. New places and experiences are there for those willing to overcome the big obstacle to discovery – themselves.