Bluewater voyaging is more than just a hobby. It is a platform for learning, a physical challenge, psychological challenge, transportation and for some, a spiritual adventure. One thing that it is not, in my judgement, is dangerous. But you need to have the skills and experience to make it safe.
Bluewater sailing may seem to be both one of the most pleasant lifestyles and one of the more lonely activities in the world at the same time. People who sail the open ocean frequently usually learn how to manage their lives better, especially when it comes to relationships and money, since they must. Bluewater cruising presents incredible challenges and potentially serious situations that often need fast, effective solutions which can’t be ignored. The only two options here are life, or loss of life.
Another instructive opportunity is deep sea cruising, which has the full potential to improve your wisdom, attitudes, and skills that can be heard to learn with the various limitations of a classroom. Sailing is one of the most effective tools in honing personal and team skills. Blue water sailing will offer you some of the most superb and liberating experiences, though it still has its individual risks that need you to be extra careful and steer away from if you are not sure of what it involves.
Sailboats have undergone many design changes since the time they were in use in the Mediterranean region thousands of years ago. As these changes occurred, changes also occurred in the nature of sailors. The different builders of bluewater sailboats have taken into consideration the way boats are sailed today. The design evolution of sailboats has changed tremendously in the last 30 years. A lot of these changes are due to new materials that are both lighter and stronger than anything that has been available before. But, sailboats designed for extended offshore voyages are always a compromise. No one boat has all the characteristics that make the perfect bluewater sailboat.
The vessels specially designed for speed are usually more delicate when compared to those built for strength. However, any sailboat fit to sail in the open ocean needs a knowledgeable, experienced skipper. A common misconception among new or less experienced sailors is that bigger boats buy you safety. In general, that is not the case. Bigger sailboats buy you comfort, not safety. Safety comes from experience. Generally, the seaworthiness of a boat means something quite different on open seas than what it means in protected and coastal waters.
Compromises on the seaworthiness of the yacht does not mean that it is not equal to the circumstances ahead of it. Perhaps the contemporary designer aims for a more seaworthy boat that is successfully able to pull through a 180 degree roll rapidly, without causing severe harm to it. It should be strong enough to hove-to in a gale and withstand steep breaking seas. You’ll also want a proportionally be well balanced and easy to steer sailing vessel. The ocean going sailboat should be able to be handled by one or two people. In addition, she should transport you and your crew with security and comfort, and offer you at least decent average speeds in the 5-7 knots range. Most modern designs have wider beams and flatter bottoms. This has increased speed substantially but can make for a bumpy ride.
My personal preference for offshore sailing are boats in the 30-40 foot range with full length keel and rudder or skeg rudder. I prefer all lines running to the cockpit to minimize exposure to the elements. I prefer and recommend backup systems to your electronics. If you’re going offshore, learn celestial navigation. Pretty much everyone I say that to disagrees with me since GPS is cheap and reliable. But if I have virtually no electrical power due to flooding, knockdowns or any other heavy weather event, I want to be able to find out where I am. I’ve navigated purely by the sun and moon for tens of thousands of bluewater miles. I’ll still sneak a peak at the GPS to see how accurate my fixes are, but thats about it unless I’m in a hurry. Of course when I started, celestial was the only option for offshore sailors. And there was no backup, no computer to run the sight for you or store the H.O. 214 tables – pencil, paper and charts.
The seaworthiness of a maritime yacht ultimately depends on the vibrant behavior it exhibits while underway. The sailboat’s dynamics while underway are actually quite complex. The truth of the matter is that any vessel, large or small could easily be capsized when it comes up again large breaking waves or rouge waves.