I’ve been telling a lot of people about our plans for next year. The most common, casual-conversation version goes something like this: At the end of May, we’re sailing to Scotland via Newfoundland, Greenland, and Iceland.
This is fun to contemplate and fun to talk about. My shift at the West Marine in Canton is enlivened by talking about sailing adventures, past and future. Sometimes the person with whom I am speaking knows the score; sometimes the person doesn’t.
By the score, I mean the scores of considerations involved in planning an oceanic voyage of this sort. Though they are in fact legion, I can break them down into types.
- Boat readiness
- Crew readiness
- Weather windows
To be more precise, these represent contingencies rather than mere considerations. Our trip will happen or not based on how those four factors stand when we’re looking at each other, wanting so badly to take off.
We’re re-watching the mini-series “From the Earth to the Moon” and I thrill at the NASA command scenes. One person after another, each at the top of their respective fields, giving the word. Go or no-go.
We have to think in the same way about those four categories. Each one will get considered every single time we go sailing, but ocean voyaging requires that we think in terms of weeks rather than hours. The specific areas we will cover require us to think in terms of handling heavy weather rather than avoiding it.
As I talk to non-sailors or sailors who’ve never planned a major voyage, I feel tentative in sharing our plans. I feel that I am setting up expectations in the people around me and will be seen to have “failed” if we don’t reach Scotland next year or don’t get off the dock by May 31st. I want to clarify for people – friends, family, and even myself – why there are no firm dates, no places we’ll certainly stop, and a whole lot of work to be done.
The next posts will be explorations of the four types of contingencies. I hope to get advice in the comments and will not be surprised if I need to do a wrap-up post summarizing the way my thoughts have changed on these subjects.
Now, to start the list of boat-readiness factors…whew.