Far more common than a desire to race is a desire to set sail to new destinations and just SAIL! Commonly referred to as Cruising (not to be confused with the massive ships that other people call Cruise Ships), it is a relaxed way to enjoy the beauty of sailing and the comfort and generosity that destinations have to offer.
What does it take to be a “cruiser?” Well, some would say, just a credit card. So what does it take to be a good cruiser? Well, you have to be a bit of a planner. One of the key skills (beyond just sailing) is that you have to be able to plan something that is uncertain and consider some alternate means to your ends. One of the beautiful things about sailing is that the wind may take you somewhere unexpected. If you aren’t good at dealing with a certain level of uncertainty, this might not be for you.
Outside of that, one of the most important sailing skills required is navigation. Sure, Chartplotters are all the rage, and quite frankly, are pretty amazing pieces of tech, but are you able to operate if you have to use a paper chart? Can you take a fix off of two known points of land and dead reckon your position? Can you estimate your average speed and heading over the last hour and estimate your position? Let’s not even discuss celestial navigation. You can’t be a good enough navigator.
Keeping the crew happy on a cruise usually involves feeding them well. If you have some culinary experience, great. Otherwise, a good addition to your crew would be someone who does. Typically people who cruise do so with more than one person (minimum 2 but on longer passages and more comfortably appointed boats, maybe 4 to 6 people.) Funny thing, those people get hungry on a multi-day passage. Heck, they might even get hungry on an overnight passage. Good food keeps everyone happy. Bad food gives everyone something to complain about (that isn’t the conditions.) Use that last tidbit cautiously.
Another thing to consider when cruising is who you are cruising with. There is a saying that the boat gets 1 foot smaller, per person, per day. This part is hard. Some sailing sayings even come out of ticks that people have that annoy others like “You’ll whistle up a storm!” for whistlers, or “I don’t like the cut of that guy’s jib” referring to their general demeanor. When cruising with others that you don’t normally spend a lot of time with, it is important to start with smaller trips to kind of “shake down” the group dynamic. If that’s not possible becuase you are jumping on with someone else, just be ready to be accomodating to others (and remember, they might be accomodating you as well!)
As I mentioned in my post on sailing gear, it is important to have good kit for the season. Being comfortable in hot or rainy or cold weather can make all the difference between a good cruise and a miserable one.
Cruising is one of my favorite things to do on the water. I hope that you take the opportunity to experience it as well and find what works for you.