Overcome the Challenges of Setting Sail

How does one begin the single greatest boating adventure of their lives? The answer is one day at a time. Sailing around the world is a massive undertaking, but distilled down to its smallest elements, it’s nothing more than 300 (plus or minus a few hundred days, depending on your route) 24-hour passages strung together – with some interesting destinations thrown in. 

Each day of sailing, and each challenge overcome, will take you that much closer to the finish line. And when you have finally closed the circle and sailed back to your port of departure, you will have accumulated more wild memories and incredible experiences than most people get in a lifetime. 

A sailing circumnavigation is a very different type of adventure depending on who the skipper and crew are, the type and size of the boat, the route, and the schedule. But all first-time circumnavigators share certain challenges in the first few months of their voyage, and we will address some of the most important ones in this article. To learn how to set sail on a voyage around the world, read on. 

How to Depart

It is said that the hardest part of sailing around the world is actually leaving the dock, and for most sailors, that is very much true. 

In our previous articles, we touched on some tips on how best to depart on your round the world expedition, but now we will dive into the topic in depth. 

Leading up to your world voyage, you probably logged quite a bit of time at sea while you were learning how to sail and while you were sea trialing your own boat to prepare for the circumnavigation. But chances are, those passages only lasted a few weeks, up to a few months at most.

Saying Goodbye to Family

A short offshore passage is an exciting adventure, but you always know that you will probably be back home with your loved ones in a relatively short period of time. A global circumnavigation is another matter entirely. Some circumnavigators won’t return home until they have closed the circle, many years after setting sail. 

How do you say goodbye to your friends and family, knowing that you might not see them for a very long time? How do you make sure to be really ready when you set off from the marina, with so much excitement and anticipation for the voyage ahead? In this segment, you will learn how to depart on a circumnavigation in a calm, organized manner.

One thing you can do to help reassure your family is to offer to take them out for a short sail on your boat. This can accomplish a couple of objectives. First, it’s a great chance to prove to them how prepared you really are to tackle such a huge expedition. They will see how much time and effort you have put into preparing the boat and how well you know how to sail. But it’s also a great opportunity to get them into sailing too.

If they enjoy the trip enough, you can offer to have them meet you in a port along the way to sail on the far side of the world. This is an opportunity for an exciting vacation for them, but even more importantly it’s a chance for you to catch up part way into your voyage. If your family gets the chance to visit with you along the way, the world might not seem so vast after all. 

Choose Your Date of Departure

The first step with regards to your departure is to choose a date and time. Ideally, you will pick your departure date, months, or even years prior to the actual date. That way you have plenty of time to get ready and won’t have to spend the final hours before your voyage scrambling around to buy last-minute supplies and check the final boxes. Some sailors even choose the exact minute that they will leave years ahead of time, in order to have a very realistic target to aim for.

A seasoned sailor should ideally be totally prepared weeks before the departure date – that way you can enjoy your final days ashore doing things that you enjoy rather than worrying about the boat and last-minute details. 

With that in mind, it’s important to give yourself plenty of extra time. Since boats are usually complicated objects and work tends to take much longer than expected, pick a departure date that’s at least a month or two after you think the boat will be ready to be safe. Then, if things take longer than planned, it will still be possible to keep to the original date. 

Secondly – make the departure date firm, with exceptions. It’s important to have a set date because, without one, many people will never leave home at all. For a sailor who has a dream but lacks confidence, or who is waiting for every last detail to be perfect, it’s all too easy to delay the trip “just one more month” or “just one more year”. Before too long, they are 75 years old, with a bad back and diabetes, unable to sail anywhere. 

Every marina in the world has people like this. In fact, for every sailor who successfully sails off around the world, there are probably a thousand sailors with their yacht tied up to the dock, waiting to fix “just one more” thing before they can depart. 

I had a friend whose neighbor in the marina was like this. My friend fixed up his boat, departed on his circumnavigation, sailed all over the world for 17 years, and eventually made his way back home. When he tied up at the dock, his neighbor was still tied up at the same slip, still working on “just one more thing”, so he could set off on his circumnavigation. He’s probably still there to this day.

Setting a firm departure time to aim for, with adequate time to realistically prepare, but a solid date to set sail can help keep you on track to realizing the dream, not just talking about it.

The reason that the departure date should be “slightly” flexible is due to unforeseen events, like bad weather, for example. There is no reason to tempt disaster by setting off on a circumnavigation while a force 12 hurricane is blowing outside the harbor wall, for example. If your boat is ready and the departure date arrives but conditions don’t allow for a safe departure, it’s fine to stand by for a few more days until it’s safe to sail. 

Personally, I like to make sure that the final items on my checklist are taken care of at least a few weeks prior to my departure, at the latest (of course, it’s ok to take care of minor time-sensitive things in the final days, like buying fresh produce). That way, instead of rushing around to get the boat ready, I can spend my final weeks ashore enjoying the luxuries of life on land and giving my friends and family a proper farewell. 

A week or two before heading out, it’s nice to plan a send-off party and have all my favorite people together for some drinks on the boat. I make sure to take extra long showers and go for a few long walks in the hills. At sea, it’s often the simple luxuries like this that sailors miss the most. 

When the day of departure finally arrives, all I have to do is step aboard with a bag of fresh food, hoist the sails, and go. I choose to keep the farewell ceremony to before the day of departure, that way there are no distractions as I head out and if something goes wrong it’s not a major embarrassment. After all, you want a clear head when you sail off on a global voyage. 

Choose a Nearby Anchorage

Another tip is to pick a nearby anchorage to aim for the first night out. Everyone is different, but for me, the anticipation of a great adventure can keep me from resting properly in the days leading up to a major voyage. Rather than heading straight out to sea, I like to sail over to a quiet cove where I know there won’t be too many distractions and take it easy for my first night. Then I organize my boat, eat a decent meal, get some rest, and head out in the morning to take on the world. 

Then you are on your way – the journey has begun. 

How to Mentally Prepare for the Journey

At the beginning of your circumnavigation, the vast distance ahead of you may seem overwhelming. 30,000 NM is a long way to sail, after all. The best way to deal with this is to think of the world voyage as just 300 (more or less) daily passages of 100 miles. After all, that’s what a voyage around the world is, 300 sunrises and sunsets at sea, each day sailing a little bit closer to your goal of traveling all the way around the world on your portable, floating home. 

I then like to set my sights on the first major goal. If I depart my home port in Washington State, with San Francisco as my first port of call, it makes more sense to focus more on San Francisco than on Tahiti or Brazil, which will be months or years away. The passage to San Francisco is only five or six days away – a reasonable target even for a first-time circumnavigator. 

Then, when I have sailed past the Golden Gate, I have a feeling of accomplishment of having completed a respectable passage, rather than feeling overwhelmed that I have only sailed 600 NM out of a 30,000 NM voyage. After San Francisco, I may set my next target as the Mexican Border, or Cabo San Lucas, and only then think about the long passage across the Pacific. 

By breaking up the voyage into small, digestible segments, you can focus on the task at hand without getting lost in the vastness of the sea. Even the greatest voyagers in the world usually focus on each individual milestone rather than the entire expedition at once. 

I apply the same mentality to long ocean passages as well. Let’s say I am about to sail from Puerto Vallarta to the Marquesas, a voyage of 3,000 NM. My first goal would be passing the Socorro Islands, only a few days away. Then I focus on making it past the Clipperton Islands, which is another week or so of sailing. By the time I have made it past the equator, my third milestone of the passage, I am well over halfway there, and the destination is almost within reach!

Handling Emotions at the Start of the Voyage

Some sailors begin their voyage with an incredible sense of relief after having finally pulled off the departure after many months or years of preparation. But for many, this sense of freedom soon transforms into a sense of foreboding or even depression for having gotten themselves into such a serious undertaking. Sometimes the start of the voyage can seem chaotic, and the feelings of adventure and freedom can take some weeks or months to set in. 

If you experience “start of the voyage anxiety”, there is no need to panic. In fact, this is entirely normal. You have just taken on a challenge that most people don’t ever dream of, and left much of your previous life behind. Likely, certain friends, family members, and critics have told you that you are crazy. If you have crew members along with you, especially if some of them are children, the responsibility for their safety can be a heavy burden. 

The key to dealing with all the emotional baggage associated with a long sailing voyage is to try to prepare for it ahead of time, recognize when it comes up, and – most importantly – take things slowly at the start. 

Most likely, your voyage around the world will take several years to complete. There is no need to rush into things right at the start. Your crew (and yourself) may very well be in a fragile state of mind at this point, so there is no sense in diving off the deep end. 

Remember: things will go wrong. Things will break. There will be unpleasant weather. Instead of panicking when things inevitably come up, take a deep breath, and deal with each situation with a cool mind. 

Handling Problems on Board

There is nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of the ocean on a vessel with people panicking over some trivial thing (except maybe being in the same situation with the same people panicking over a serious emergency).

A Bad Situation Got Worse

A few years back, I crewed on a boat out of Hong Kong that was attempting to be the first Chinese vessel to sail through the Northwest Passage. A week or so out of Japan, the propeller was fouled in a fishing net, and when we attempted to lower a diver into the water with the dinghy, the mechanical davits failed. It was a minor issue, with no real danger to anyone. 

Rather than taking a coffee break to talk the issue over and come up with a solution (as I would have done), all five other crew members immediately started fighting with each other over how to fix the broken davit. I found myself in the unpleasant situation of being surrounded by people screaming at each other in Mandarin, all while the parts of the dismantled davit rolled around on deck and many of them into the ocean.

Then the crew really got so excited that it seemed likely a fight would break out. 

If someone had been teleported onto the vessel at that moment, they probably would have assumed that our lives were in immediate danger based on the reactions of the crew. As it so happened, I was regularly woken to panicked voices throughout that voyage, and I never knew if we simply had to reef the sails or if the boat was going to sink in a matter of seconds. 

It didn’t help that there were three or four engineers onboard, all of whom had their own ideas about how to fix things, which always resulted in further destruction to the equipment. In this particular incident, a minor problem (malfunction of a davit) resulted in them permanently breaking the equipment, which meant that it was impossible to lower the dinghy and fix the fouled propeller.

In the end, we had to sail for the next 2,000 NM without the aid of the engine, and then the owner asked for a tow from the Coast Guard to get into port. I wasn’t surprised to hear that he later used emergency services (and taxpayer money) to rescue the vessel from his own incompetence numerous times later on in the voyage. 

The point is that at sea, things will be guaranteed to go wrong, but unless it’s an immediate emergency, it’s almost always a better idea to take a moment and think things over rather than panic and make things worse. 99% of the time there is an easy, simple, and safe solution if you take the time to calmly figure things out.

At the start of your world voyage, before you have had the chance to get into the swing of things and become intimately familiar with your vessel, there is an even greater chance of things going wrong. But with a calm attitude and proper preparation, most challenges can be easily dealt with before becoming a real serious situation. 

Learn To Go With the Flow

In the end, to make it around the world on your own sailing vessel, you must “give in” to the expedition in a sense and embrace the challenge, adventure, and strangeness of a global voyage. Control freaks don’t end up doing too well at sea, because the ocean is not an environment that can be controlled by one person, no matter how great the size of their ego. 

Chances are, situations that once seemed like the worst thing in the world will later be fun stories to tell at the harbor bar. Personally, I am grateful for even the most terrifying experiences from my voyages, after all, how else could we appreciate the good times? It has been said that if there is a heaven for sailors, it’s a place with a fair breeze, good anchorages, pretty companions, and please, God, send us a gale every now and again. If everything was perfect at sea, it would never be an adventure. 

Dealing With Emotional Challenges

One of the emotional challenges for offshore sailors has always been spending so much time away from friends and family. Fortunately, modern communication has made this much easier. Years ago, sailors would consider themselves lucky to get one or two letters from home per year on a world voyage.

Today, it’s possible to send a hundred texts per day from the middle of the ocean and call home whenever you want on a satellite phone. Of course, some of us go to sea to get away from such entrapments, but that’s purely a matter of choice (and budget). 

People back home may ask you how you handle boredom while sailing through long stretches of open water, but it’s unlikely that getting bored will ever be a serious problem on the water. If you manage to get bored at sea, chances are that sailing around the world is not the best goal for you to take on.

Each day of the passage will be unique in its own way – one day you will be busy keeping the boat moving forward against a gale, another you may spend your time changing the sails every twenty minutes in order to keep the boat sailing in light winds.

One day the highlight may be sailing through a pod of whales and another day pulling in a fresh Mahi Mahi for dinner. One day you may spend most of your time reading a good book and another you may be stuck at the tiller, maneuvering your way through the shipping lanes. 

Dealing with Seasickness

Seasickness is a phenomenon that affects each person differently. Some of the most accomplished sailors in the world still get seasick for the first couple of days on every passage, even after decades of their lives spent at sea. Other sailors never feel the slightest bit seasick even in the worst storm of their lives.

Those who are most affected by motion sickness can become incredibly sick from the motion of the sea, even to the point of suffering from dehydration when anything ingested comes back up. 

Fortunately, it is very rare for seasickness to last more than a few days after departure. Usually, even a crewmember that gets terribly sick in the first couple days of a passage will fully recover once their body becomes accustomed to the motion of the sea. 

Whether a person gets seasick or not has nothing to do with their skill as a sailor. It has more to do with biology than talent. I am incredibly lucky that I never really get seasick, even in the roughest of conditions, but I have family members who are so badly affected by sea sickness that they have given up sailing entirely. 

How To Treat Seasickness

There are a few things that you can do prior to departure in order to be prepared to deal with seasick crew.

First, you can stock up on medicine and supplements that help ease the symptoms. One popular medicine to help with motion sickness is Dramamine. This has been proven quite effective for many people, but the side effects can be quite strong. Any crew who takes Dramamine may become quite drowsy, and shouldn’t keep watch alone unless absolutely necessary. 

Some people eat ginger candy or drink ginger ale to help with motion sickness. For some, ginger almost entirely eradicates the effects of seasickness, for others, it has no effect at all. The same can be said for other “cures” like seasickness patches or bracelets.

In the end, it’s up to each crew to learn how their body handles being at sea, and know how best to treat the conditions so they can enjoy being on the water. 

Getting Used to Offshore Life

On the first few passages of your circumnavigation, life at sea may present some unique challenges that could take some getting used to. Even if you have logged a fair bit of time at sea to prepare for your global voyage, having to make one passage after another for months on end can be exhausting to say the least. 

Turbulent Ocean

One of the greatest challenges for first-time circumnavigators to overcome is the fact that life at sea can be similar to living in a washing machine much of the time. The ocean is a very turbulent place, and even when there is no wind, there is almost always some leftover swell from a faraway storm that roughs up the surface of the water.

From the time you leave a protected harbor to the time you arrive at your destination, chances are that your home will be very much in motion. 

Especially, for cruisers on smaller vessels, the motion of the ocean can make life at sea very interesting at times. That’s why it’s important to properly prepare your vessel for life at sea prior to departure, including installing plenty of handholds both inside the cabin and on deck, lee cloths for all berths to be used at sea, and a strap to keep the cook secure while preparing meals in the galley.

These measures may sound a little bit overboard to the uninitiated, but no serious cruiser would think twice about it after learning how violent the sea can be. Some sailors headed for extremely rough stretches of water like the Southern Ocean or the North Sea have gone as far as to bring along safety helmets and install safety belts in the bunks for added security. 

Whatever you do to prepare the vessel for life in rough waters, it’s important for each crew member to know what to expect. Since you will often end up bracing yourself to stay in one place even while seated or sitting down, you will find that it’s easy to get a fair bit of exercise at sea just to stay in one place. No gym membership required. Then it’s just a matter of hanging on. 

Keeping Watch for Dangers at Sea

One of the greatest challenges for many sailors getting accustomed to spending a lot of time at sea is the fact that it’s necessary to spend 24 hours a day on watch for potential dangers. After all, an unexpected squall can appear at any time, and other ships don’t wait for you to wake up to resume their course. While unlikely, the boat could hit floating debris and sink at any time.

Because of all these potential dangers, it’s necessary for the captain to be prepared to take action at any time of the day or night. It’s only once you are securely moored in port that it’s possible to turn off your alert for risks and really properly rest. 

Sleeping at Sea

Another change to prepare yourself for is your sleeping schedule. Whether you sail solo or with crew, it’s unlikely that it will be possible to maintain a normal “sleep during the night, awake during the day” type of routine at sea. Instead, most offshore sailors end up catching sleep whenever it’s possible (and safe), and making up for lost sleep at night with naps during the day. 

Eating at Sea

Preparing and eating food will also be very different on the ocean. Sometimes, during long spells of consistent weather, it may be possible to take time to cook nice meals that require a good bit of preparation.

But, unless you have a very determined cook onboard, it’s likely that you will want to have a large supply of snacks that don’t require preparation and easy to make foods like freeze dried meals that only need hot water. I find myself making up for the lack of consistent cooked meals with lots of nutritious snacks and hot drinks – which also make night watch much more easy to look forward to. 

On longer passages, it may be impossible to have fresh foods available for the duration of the passage, which different sailors handle in different ways. Freeze dried foods with lots of fruits and vegetables help combat this problem, since they retain up to 95% of their original nutrients, unlike canned and dried foods.

I also like to supplement packaged foods with fresh sprouts, which I grow in jars to provide fresh greens, eat a wide variety of vitamins and supplements to make up for any lost nutrients, and try my best to catch fish when possible to put fresh protein on the menu. 

Your Daily Routine at Sea

The first few days at sea on any passage often seem chaotic, especially at the start of a major voyage like a circumnavigation. Closer to shore, there is always much more to worry about like shipping traffic, rocks, reefs, floating debris, and other hazards to navigation.

But after you have spent a few days at sea and gotten some distance between yourself and the craziness of coastal life, it’s important for everyone onboard to develop some kind of routine. 

Of course, a routine at sea is far different from what you may be used to back home in the “real world”. On Shore, your daily routine probably revolved around your work, family, and social life, but at sea, it’s a very different paradigm.

Instead of having your daily schedule dictated by work commitments and dinner parties with your friends, life at sea is controlled by the weather, sea conditions, the geographical area that you are sailing through, and other factors largely out of your control. 

The Watch Schedule

If you have a crew, your day-to-day activities will most likely revolve around the watch schedule. For most solo sailors, their daily schedule varies much more depending on the conditions at the time. Another major factor is your self-steering equipment. If your vessel lacks a windvane or autopilot, or if it malfunctions, chances are that a large portion of your time at sea will be spent at the helm. If you have a good self-steering setup, that should free you from having to hand steer except for in exceptional cases, which gives you a lot more free time to enjoy the passage. 

A Typical Day at Sea

Below, I will give two examples of a typical day at sea based on my own experiences. The first was while delivering a 48-foot vessel from French Polynesia to San Francisco with four crew. The second was a solo passage I made on a 36-foot boat from Cancun to Chiapas, Mexico.

These examples should give you an idea of what a typical day at sea looks on both a crewed vessel and for a solo sailor. 

Example 1: Jeanneau 48 Vivacia – Passage from Bora Bora to Christmas Island

03:00: Spent 24:00 to 03:00 watch looking at stars and listening to music in the cockpit. Wind steady 20 knots from E. Sailing NNE at 6 to 7 knots under reefed main and genoa. Wind increased just before 03:00 so further reefed sail before handing over to Anthony.

06:00: Slept in cabin for an hour but too hot so moved to the cockpit and slept on the leeward side behind the dodger. Can’t open the hatch due to spray so way too hot to sleep down below. Making good progress towards Christmas Island. 24 hour run was 155 NM, with about 700 NM to go. 

08:00: Chris made a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, fruit and mate. Eating way too much, bought too much food from Raiatea. Some fruits are going bad so need to use up before the rest spoils. Autopilot working great, but I’m not sure about the watermaker. Will take a look at it with Chris later today. 

11:00: Napped on deck in the sun but was awoken by spray from a breaking wave. Totally soaked but I think my phone is fine. Three more flying fish crashed onto the deck. Might use as bait to try to catch a mahi or tuna. Drank coffee with Baileys and Chris is already cooking lunch.

15:30: Had a good watch from 12:00 to 15:00. Sat in the sun and read. Still no ships since sailboat spotted on the first day out of FP. Tried listening to the radio, but couldn’t pick anything up. At the end of my watch hooked a mahi on the line and pulled him in. Pretty good sized fish. Don’t like to kill it with so much food already, but was convinced to keep him by Amy. Lots of filets, so we will be eating fresh fish for a while. 

18:00: Amy and Chris cooked mahi for dinner with potatoes and vegetables. Really good. Worked on watermaker in the afternoon but couldn’t find parts. Will have to go through the aft lockers later when the wind dies down. Wind E 15 knots and sailing NNE at 6 knots+. Large swell from the SE. Will need to get more easting in order to make landfall at Christmas I. 

23:00: Amy downloaded weather with Iridium Go. Forecast matches weather reports from home. Wind looks good for the next three days, then we may be approaching doldrums. That could be a good opportunity to motor E. Ran engine for an hour to top up batteries – don’t understand why tropical boat owners wouldn’t have solar panels. Saw shooting stars while looking at constellations. 

24:00: Made coffee w/ Baileys for watch. Sky is incredibly clear, so may just spend night watch looking at sky. Excellent passage so far – why can’t it be like this more often? Always worry about what is about to go wrong when things are so nice. 

Example 2: Islander 36, Runaway – Passage from Quepos, Costa Rica to Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

24:00 -04:00: Spent four hours hand steering the boat through 8 to 12-knot winds from the west. Seas bumpy (probably from a tropical storm off Mexico). Spotted three fishing boats to the N at about 0100 and had to stay at the helm to avoid a collision. Speed only 3 knots due to swells knocking wind out of sails. At 01:45 one of the fishing boats was on a collision course so had to tack and sail off course for 20 minutes. Drank coffee to stay awake. Wind vane still malfunctioning due to damage from CR gale (I had no electric autopilot). Sky overcast, batteries still low from no sun. 

04:00: Took a nap in the cockpit but was awakened after 10 minutes by a squall. Sleeping bag inside, dropped mainsail and furled most of the genoa. Rain and wind up to 30 knots for about 30 mins, then switched to N and died. Light rain and poor visibility. Saw two more fishing boats so remained in the cockpit until they passed out of sight to the SW. Not showing up on AIS. 

07:00: Becalmed for three hours so tried napping in the cabin but too hot and worried about fishing boats. Moved back to the cockpit and kept watch as best as possible in the rain. Drank another coffee and ate a biscuit. Light wind from NW at 08:00 so hoisted main, unfurled genoa, and set course to NNE. Was able to get the boat to self-steer for a while with the wheel locked in the center. 

11:00: Rain stopped but visibility is still poor. No more fishing boats for a few hours. Wind increased to 15 knots and shifted to the W. Boat self-steering on N course at 5 knots. Napped in the cockpit on and off for an hour, checking for ships every 15 mins. 

12:30: Was answering messages from home when we were hit by another squall, so dropped sails and waited for it to pass. Wind up to 35 knots, all directions. Unable to keep the boat on course, so gave up and sat in the cabin. Squall intensified, with lightning all around the boat. Sat on a cushion and tried to avoid touching metal. Worried about electronics. 

16:00: Squall finally died. Lightning was very close at times but never hit the boat. A miracle. Celebrated with more coffee and sent messages to Emma. Hot and wet in the cabin from humidity and leaks. Getting a sore throat, maybe from breathing so much mold in the cabin (Later I developed a quite bad throat infection). Remember never to sail during hurricane season in Central America! Saw a sea turtle pass boat and later two dolphins. Also lots of sea birds. Almost caught fish but lost it while pulling in line. 

20:00: Spent afternoon hand steering in varying wind speeds from 5 to 20 knots. Hoisted and dropped sails ten or fifteen times. Eventually the wind went to WNW and got the boat self steering again. Made a pot of pasta with canned chicken and tomato sauce. Not bad. Slept for a few minutes in the cockpit, then spotted another fishing boat. 

24:00: Fishing boat on parallel course, so had to hand steer for 3 hours to maintain distance. Drank coffee from thermos to stay awake. Using a poncho to stay dry while sitting in the cockpit. Listened to music and messaged Emma from InReach. Course NW at 4 to 5 knots. 480 NM to Chiapas. 

As you can see, the day-to-day activities of a sailor entirely depend on the boat, crew, weather conditions, and status of the equipment on the vessel. But regardless of the situation, life at sea is always interesting, with its own unique challenges and rewards. 

Getting to Know Your Vessel

The more you sail and the further you get into the groove of your voyage around the world, the more you will learn about the advantages and weaknesses of your particular vessel. No matter how many different boats you have sailed before, it takes time to get to know every boat and learn how to sail her to the best of your abilities.

No doubt, as you go you will come up with techniques for how best to reef the sails, or maneuver around a port with a strong wind blowing, or how best to keep her safe at sea in a storm. Most likely, you will decide to make modifications to the vessel and her equipment in order to sail her the best way possible and have a safer and more fun experience along the way. 

The goal is that by the end of the voyage you know the boat almost as an extension of yourself. You will learn exactly when it’s time to reef the sails and when it’s time to put up more sail area. You will get used to the sounds that mean there has been a change in the wind or the boat’s course.

Eventually, you may not even need an alarm to wake you up when something changes in the environment that needs your immediate attention. But these things take time and sea miles – it’s the only way to truly get to know the boat. 

In the meantime, as you and your crew grow accustomed to your new home, it’s important to take things easy while you learn the ropes. That’s why I always recommend that people ease into their world voyage. After all, cruising around the world is a marathon – not a race. 

The Next Steps 

As you get acquainted with your boat and settle into the shipboard routine your confidence will grow. After the first couple of passages, you should be in the groove of things and begin to really enjoy the life of a sailing vagabond. In our upcoming articles in this series on how to sail around the world, we will cover how to become comfortable living on the ocean and how to make a living at sea.

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