In honour of Woman’s Day I thought I’d share some lessons learnt – from a woman’s perspective.
Sailing Lessons for Ladies
1. Take an experienced sailor with you. Look, if you go during the European summer its mostly blue skies and sun and light winds (or none) BUT on the day of the storm it’s really useful to have someone take the lead and shout instructions. By the way – you can hire a sailor but if I were you I’d ask for pictures and interview him first!
2. Take a fan rather than fake a tan. (sorry!) You’re going to go brown quickly – the sun just doesn’t seem as fierce as our African sun. It’s also going to be hot and humid – fine when you’re on the yacht but when in enclosed spaces the fan is great – and no-one will know you so it doesn’t matter if they see you fanning yourself like an old lady!
3. Take less stuff. We hired a catamaran. It’s a little bit like a caravan on water. The bunks are tiny. The cupboards are smaller. The shower is in the same square meter as the toilet. Before we left I packed my suitcase – then took some stuff out. I should have taken out more. There is very little space to put stuff and you don’t really need much.
4. Put the toilet paper away when you shower. See point 3. No matter how careful you are, the hand-help shower IS going to soak the toilet paper. On that point – use as little toilet paper as possible – blocked pipes on a yacht are no fun.
5. Choose your friends carefully. See point 3 again. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in a confined space with the same people for an extended period of time. Make sure you all get on well and work as a team.
6. Hire a bigger yacht than you need if you can afford it. See point 3 again! We put all our suitcases, snorkeling equipment, spare drinks, fishing stuff and anything else that would not fit in our rooms/ kitchen in the spare berth. Very useful!
7. Don’t hold rigidly onto your plans. Be flexible. Be very flexible. We spent much time before we left plotting our route and deciding which were the best islands to visit. None of it worked out. We made new plans every day and every day was completely different to what we had planned. That’s OK. We still had loads of fun and incredible experiences.
8. Fly your flag. We proudly flew a South African flag on our yacht. In one port someone wandered over to chat to us – they had recognized our flag. Next minute our yacht was invaded by about 20 people (from different countries) – they bought drinks and food, we shared our drinks and food – and good party ensued. Such fun!
9. Shop at the markets. The old cities are beautiful and full of tourist shops. You will find that the market across the street carries the same tourist stuff at much cheaper rates.
10. Anchor in quiet ports and catch the water taxi to the parties on neighboring islands. That’s if you want your beauty sleep! In the busy ports the music blares out from various venues for most of the night. Great if you want to party, not if you want to sleep.
11. Go on a cooking course. Our cooking teacher took us to the local fish and veggie market and showed us what was what – then she taught us to cook some local dishes. Apart from being useful, it was a loads of fun.
12. Beware of the schnapps. Most restaurants offer patrons a free glass of schnapps after the meal. There’s a reason it’s free!
13. There will always be greater and lesser yachts than yours. One local we were chatting to had a beautiful yacht – much bigger and better than ours. As we were chatting a huge, sleek, sophistical yacht sailed into the harbour. He looked in envy and said, “No matter how much you spend on your yacht, there’s always someone richer with a bigger yacht”. Just like life!
Always say YES to new experiences!
How about sharing the lessons you have learnt from some of your new experiences?
“Twenty years from now,
you will be more disappointed
by the things you didn’t do
than those you did.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from safe harbor.
Catch the wind in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.”