Many of you have asked me, "What's next?" Well, having just selected the people who will rent my house for the next year, I'm ready to announce my plans. I will take another year off work to focus on sailing -- acquiring sea miles and building my sailing network.
So far, I have booked two big sailing adventures for 2016:
First, I will be joining two of my sailing instructors on a 1,200-mile sailing passage from New Zealand to Fiji. I fly to New Zealand in late March, and will spend a few weeks on preparation and practice. The actual passage will be sometime in late April or early May, depending on favorable weather and sea conditions. Obviously, we want to avoid storms like the devastating Winston cyclone.
This will be my first major ocean voyage, so I am very excited. It will be a thrilling 10 or 12 days, but more importantly, it will provide me with that “first job experience" that is so critical in starting a new career. To be hired as skipper or crew on a yacht, you need sea miles. But to get sea miles, you need to be skipper or crew. It’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma. For that reason, I’m incredibly grateful to my skipper for trusting me and inviting me on this passage. I hope this experience will have a snowball effect and lead to even more opportunities as my sea miles increase.
Second, in September I will head to Croatia where I have chartered a 42-foot sailboat. I will skipper this boat, as part of a larger 12- or 15-boat “flotilla” from the Olympic Circle Sailing Club. For two weeks, we will make our way from Split to Dubrovnik, cruising around the various islands in the Adriatic Sea, stopping at marinas or coves to explore small towns, beaches, and the countryside.
In between these two big trips, I hope to find other sailing opportunities so that I can continue to build my experience and sea miles. I am currently in discussions with a few skippers in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Andaman Seas. Unfortunately due to timing, I had to turn down an offer to sail from San Francisco to Seattle in March. Regardless, these discussions give me confidence, and in fact prove, that skippers are starting to notice me.
In the meantime, I'm doing a lot of work behind the scenes. Sailing is complicated. There is a lot that goes into it, and a lot to prepare for. Sailing is physical, so I have been developing a more aggressive workout routine. Sailing is intellectual, so I have been studying navigation and chart-plotting. Sailing is environmental, so I have been learning about weather fronts, air pressure, and wind patterns. Sailing is expensive, so I have been buying lots of stuff which will keep me safe, warm, and dry. :-)
Lastly, like any good sailor, I have a Plan B – volunteering. I am still monitoring www.helpx.net for interesting opportunities to volunteer in exchange for accommodations. Right now, I'm talking to my friends in Chile about returning there in December or January. That would be awesome.
I am excited for what the future holds, even though I can’t quite see it clearly yet. I am charting a new course, and couldn’t be happier.
To prepare for a year of sailing, I have been doing a lot of studying: navigation, chart-plotting, weather patterns, knots, etc.
We will be sailing at night, so I have also been studying light configurations for all kinds of vessels:
I've made a few purchases with safety in mind. Durable, warm, sticky-soled sailing boots to keep me on board, and a personal locator beacon with satellite link just in case those fancy boots don't work.
And, Tom P., in case you're reading this, I've been practicing cooking hard-boiled eggs.... :-)