Each month, we love bringing our readers another edition of our travel blogger interview series. And, every time we do, we discover more interesting anecdotes and perspectives about the yacht charter life.
Our latest interview, with Mark from the sailing blog Cygnus III, was one of the most amusing yet. He certainly has a witty and entertaining way of tackling life on the sea, making this interview an interesting read.
Discover his favourite aspects of the sailing life, and prepare to be truly inspired…
I was born with the urge to sail. Ten thousand sperm to choose from and I got the one with an eye patch and parrot on its shoulder. I presumed that my mother may have had a water birth, but apparently not.
I honestly think there is a sailing gene and, for some reason, several of them stuck to me rather than the common sense gene. The passion to sail and to one day carry on and not come back has always been there (it helps that my navigational skills do not run to getting us back).
Adopting sailing as a lifestyle was easy because I never thought there was any other way to live. Persuading my wife, Angelina, was more difficult, but I started my cunning plan on the night I first met her. She thought it may be something I would grow out of, but men never really grow up. I have lost count of the amount of promises I owe her for letting us lead this lifestyle, but I am sure she hasn’t.
Cygnus III is an Oyster 45. The biggest challenge with her has been the maker’s name. Mention your boat is an Oyster and, for some reason, people think you have money, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything we had and owned went into buying our boat and equipping her. Now, when anyone asks what boat we have, we just say, “a white plastic thingy”.
Cygnus III was actually the first boat we saw when we were looking to buy. We knew we couldn’t afford her, but you know a boat is right for you from the moment you first step aboard. There is an instant bonding (or was that chewing gum on the deck?). We spent another year looking, but eventually we managed to sell everything (including our kids), which gave us just enough money to buy her.
It really was the best decision we made. She is so well designed and was constructed like Mother Teresa’s chastity belt. When I get things wrong, which often happens, she is the one to look after us. Not once have we had cause to doubt her. I know she wouldn’t say the same about us.
The first has to be the freedom to do and go wherever you want. Being alone in a secluded cove with the sun beating down and no sign of civilisation is pure bliss.
Being able to take you clothes off or go diving into warm, crystal clear water is our little slice of heaven. (A word of warning though: men, be careful about jumping into the sea naked — you may find you have three ‘Adams Apples’ and tears in your eyes. Believe me, I know).
Secondly, with sailing, you are always looking for that perfect sail, when the winds and sea are just right. You’re always trying to reach your destination and have the anchor dig in first try, or to bring the boat into a marina perfectly. It does happen occasionally but, more often than not, you find the best laid plans of mice and men need a little alteration. Oh, and whoever said “as quiet as a mouse” has obviously never stood on one!
You would think that after five years of full-time cruising and living aboard we would be experienced enough to know what we were doing. Truth be told, we often just wing it. What is experience anyway? It is something you learn from all your foul ups, so, in that respect, we are very experienced. Having said that, part of the fun of sailing is to sit on deck in anchorages or marinas watching other boats come in and make a total hash of things. I may tut or shake my head, but I know I have done exactly the same in the past and no doubt I will again. There is a universal law that states the magnitude of the cock up is equal to the amount of people watching. We are even thinking of making scorecards we can hold up to rate other boaters.
They say it’s not the destination that is important but the journey. When you are out in a storm or huge rolling seas being bounced around like a kangaroo’s testicles, reaching any destination is far more important. Our favourite destination has always got to be the one we arrive at still intact.
We have sailed from the north of England, down the Atlantic coast and to the far side of the Mediterranean. We have stopped at literally thousands of places. Everywhere has been new, exciting and special to us. We have never had a plan because plans go wrong and us men hate being wrong. Women can, of course, be wrong as well, but you will never hear them admit it.
We really do have faith in Cygnus to take us safely through almost any conditions, so when most sailors batten down the hatches and get the scrabble board out we are happy to sail. Surfing down waves is exhilarating, but so too is sailing at two knots in benign conditions and flat seas. To us, anytime we can turn the engine off and get the sails out is just perfect, no matter where we are.
Being full-time live-a-boards visiting different countries means we get to eat so many wonderful foods that we have never tried before. Being on a limited budget means we don’t eat out much, but we always buy what is offered locally.
We have found our favourite destinations are always made by the people we meet there, not so much the place. It does not matter where you are or what language is spoken; if you use the universal language of a smile you will get by. Always learn a few local words and you will be surprised at how wonderful people can be. It does help if you get those words right, though. We are in Greece at the moment and the local greeting is “Kali̱méra”. I got it slightly wrong and greeted everyone I met with “kalamári”. I wonder what they thought when they said good morning and I replied “squid”?
Always. You get the chance to try other types of boats and cruising grounds. They say living aboard is all about fixing things in exotic locations. With chartering, you mainly take the fixing things out of the equation.
We chartered boats in our past life when we were proper grownups. It was mainly stress-free and a wonderful sailing and learning experience (note that word experience again). It also gave us the confidence to leave everything behind and do what we are doing now.
Living aboard a sailing boat really is a wonderful way of life and, at the moment, we don’t see things changing. There is too much world to see and not enough time. What we have shown is that you don’t need to be rich or a fantastic sailor. Most of what we know has been learnt on the way. All you need is a passion and a dream. Now get those red shoes on, click the heels together three times and repeat after me……
“We have a map of the world on our boat. I’m going to put pins in all the locations I’ve sailed to. First, I’m going to have to sail to the top two corners of the map so it won’t fall down”.
“Does this rag smell of chloroform?”
We are always happy to get questions about this lifestyle and always answer any messages we receive. If you want to know anything or just say hello you can reach us through our website www.cygnus3.com.
Want to read more? Check out our last blogger interview with Kelley from Sailing Chance.
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