Soft-adventure ‘ sailing trips are increasingly popular worldwide, but especially in Europe. Dramatic coastlines, competitive exchange rates, a number of nations, languages and cuisines have rendered Europe a paradise of no-experience-necessary sailing experiences.
Here are a handful of explanations why you need to jump on board, take off your deck shoes, and set sail to the sea this summer:
- It’s totally up to you. Sailing holidays are great whether you imagine yourself as a modern Christopher Colombus, or if you prefer to sit back, relax and watch your friends do all the work whilst sipping on a martini in silence. We love getting interested and doing our childhood dreams, setting sail for tropical islands and discovering buried treasure, but it’s your summer and so you can do as little or as much sailing as you like.
- It’s hassle free. Picture a vacation without taxis, no check-in or check-out, no schedules, no rendezvous places, no late-night transfers to the resort, no crowded public transport and no need to go looking for food. Once you’re on a sailing boat, life takes a simple turn down lane. Use the sun as a watch, the ocean as a map and the breeze as a compass.
- Solitude and contemplation: A week at sea subsides, and the world’s chaos subsides. You don’t realize or matter what day it is, and sunrise, sunset, and watch routine offer the order of the day. You get to know the moon’s stages, without thinking about it. This way of living is in stark contrast to the usual western lifestyle and the perspective it provides inevitably results in personal insights and growth.
- A chance to learn. Sailing a vessel includes knowledge of many skills including teamwork, navigating, ship management, sail trimming, meteorology, cooking, troubleshooting and fixing mechanical / electrical / plumbing, ropework and line handling, and drinking. Many of those skills are also beneficial on dry land.
- Save yourself from spending too much. There has never been a better time to hit the open sea (or river) with good currency exchange rates, cheap flights around Europe. While sailing was once reserved for those with a luggage carrier entourage, it is now accessible to anyone with a sea-bound adventure thirst and a pair of half-decent sunglasses.
- It’s a visceral connection to history: Man has used sailing vessels for transportation, exploration, and to flee his creditors since time immemorial. Being a sailor is to participate in that ongoing adventure—to share that experience with those that came before, and with those yet to come.
- Kick your inner Boy Scout and resourcefulness back into gear. Sailing is an experience that really promotes resourcefulness and critical thinking; qualities that will be required for future generations to recycle and reuse products already meant for landfill. The latest EPA data shows that while recycling rates have improved over time, more waste is still generated per person. Sailing calls for traditional practical skills such as repairing sails, maintaining the assistance motor and practicing tying knots competently, to keep your vessel safe and sea worthy. Millennials have one positive here; the popularity of online tutorials implies that while those qualities may be missing at the time, they can always be learned.
- Lessen your carbon footprint on the planet. One of the main advantages of sailing is that you can harvest wind power and enjoy the thrill of traveling with renewable, green energy (apart from an assist motor for boats over 16 ft.). Sailboats are also designed to cause minimal disruption to marine life underwater. Yet powerboats that are serviced frequently and properly captained can also be more environmentally friendly than floating or driving. Everyone concerned about their carbon footprint may be interested in the Ocean Foundation’s Seagrass Grow. This is the first carbon offset program to plant seagrass meadows to allow sailors to compensate for any impact on the sea environment. Sailing can be a really eco-friendly way to take a vacation, since it can require very little fuel burning, and if done carefully, can cause minimal disruption to marine life.