I’m often asked who am I sailing with, who am I taking with me when I go, how can I sail the boat on my own, don’t I need a crew?? and similar questions.
The short answer is yes, I can (and often do) sail Pamela C on my own. She’s a big boat, but she’s forgiving and a dream to sail (she almost sails herself to be honest).
This doesn’t mean I don’t want to or won’t sail with others; quite the contrary – however, my sailing schedule rarely fits in with others, and I’ve already tried to merge my sailing life with my love life, and to date that has proved less than successful – so I now opt to sail solo, and maybe one day I will find someone who wants to sail with me and share in the journey, but I’m not in a rush to find that special someone.
There are times when sailing solo can be difficult. The constant watch-keeping and especially keeping a look out for pots and floating debris when sailing at night, trying to get the sails up and down on your own when the weather is “brisk” can also be fun. Thankfully I have a good autopilot (well I did have until it died) – so I now have a new autopilot which has been installed (at great expense); it now just needs commissioning and proper testing. Difficult, but rewarding and challenging and fun all at the same time!
I have had my fair share of adventure and mishap, usually when trying to moor up on my own either to a mooring buoy at night in the pitch black or in a marina with dozens of people watching (but very few offers to help or catch lines until you’ve already stuffed it into the side of something).
I recall the very first time I had ever actually caught a mooring buoy (not just on my own, but even with a crew and on the various courses I’ve done) it was pitch black, and I had to lean over the side of the boat to try and pick up a mooring buoy that was designed for a boat 10 times the size of my own (so it was HEAVY), I couldn’t steer the boat and lean over the side so I had to try and get far enough back, gauge the drift and the angle, steer roughly in the right direction, but the boat into neutral and then pile over the side with a pole, a rope and a torch in hand … and a prayer in my heart!
The first time I actually managed pretty well; it only took three attempts. The second time on the same buoy, in twilight but with more of a wind (and the sails up as I was trying to sail onto the mooring just to really make things complicated) I made a bit more of a pig’s ear of the whole thing and then after three attempts I gave up, put the sails away and then had to try and pick the buoy up in what was now just the light of the moon. Still, I prevailed and had a great night’s sleep. As a result, knowing that I was securely tied to a mooring designed for an 80+ foot long Dutch steel cutter which weighs in at considerably more than Pamela C’s 8 tonnes, I had a good night’s sleep on board.
As I venture further afield, I’m sure there will be times when I wish I had people on board to help. Hopefully, I will have friends, both old and new, who join me for trips and share in the experiences as we explore new locations near and far.
In the last year of boat ownership, I have made some lifelong friends already, and I look forward to making many more as I sail “single-handed” around the world!