What Does It Take To Be Good Sailors?

TUESDAY, February 7th

Telaga Harbour Marina, it is a beautiful sunny morning with a big breeze blowing through our floating home. Sitting in the cockpit, we are writing the script for our next video and it will be about everything we have learned in the past 10 months of owning UJUD.

Rene & I have fallen behind on shooting videos because we decided to focus on learning rather than wasting our energy chasing the YouTube algorithm. A minimum of one monthly video update and two blog posts are compulsory to our future selves so that we can monitor our development in this new life. It’s all too easy to neglect an update and so we have decided it’s good if the both of us can summarise what we have learned in the past 10 months.

Drilling Holes in our Hull

RENE’S PERSPECTIVE

In the beginning, for me there were some mixed feeling between curiosity and doubt. I chose curiosity even-though I knew curiosity killed the cat. I am not driven by passion, but by choosing curiosity comes my willingness to learn. This is where discipline is involved, I don’t enjoy discipline but it is necessary for my growth. 

DISCIPLINE in getting things done. For example, servicing the engine, changing a broken winch, drilling a hole in our boat’s hull, electrical wiring, fibreglassing, fixing windows, carpentry, climbing the mast, installing lights, changing seacocks, servicing winches, learning the ropes …. all this can’t happen without the discipline to learn new skills. 

After a few months of meeting other boat owners and also owning my own boat, I have noticed I have to be stubborn when choosing my own path of learning because there is so much “noise” around us. Opinions from others. So from the beginning, I told myself we have to have our own syllabus and pace. We have to starve our distraction and feed our focus. 

Sailing Lessons with Cpt Bill Robinson

FOCUS on a goal to get UJUD sailing and in February 2023, we finally did it. This is just the beginning of our journey even though it has been ten months. It has been an incredible ten months of education for all four of us. Roxy, Bo, Sam & I. We have improved our communication skills between one another and even with our dogs. They have also adapted to the change of environment. But this is because we gave ourselves time to learn and to adapt. We didn’t rush the process nor did we set a crazy crunching time-frame, we did however review our progress often.

DEDICATION I have to admit the dogs are doing better than me because at times I lose my temper and my focus. Roxy and Bo never lose their temper, they are always eager to please and always learning new skills. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, Bo is 16 this year and I look up to his spirit of never giving up. They teach us to appreciate the present time whether it’s a hot day, a rainy day, a breezy day … it’s just a good day.

Yes we have managed to sail UJUD as part of our syllabus and we had a coach present to guide us. That day itself when we were out sailing with Captain Bill, only then did we realise just how tall this mountain we are climbing is and we are right at the bottom. I now see the next chapter of challenges ahead of us and I literally said to myself DIE, but I said it with a smile. To summarise, I refer to these ten months as the infant level, it has been a humbling experience so far and I am grateful to be here with Sam and my dogs Roxy and Bo.

Anchoring
UJUD in the background as we row to shore with Roxy & Bo

SAM’S PERSPECTIVE

It was my dream to be here and everyday I am grateful for my life. It took me a very long three years to convince Rene to try this boat life and prior to buying UJUD we committed our time and energy assisting boat owners on abandoned sailboat projects. I knew that this learning curve would be a steep and expensive one but I am stubborn by nature and the more I am told not to try something the harder I will push towards it. Those two project boats we worked on are still on the hard stand not sailing and I found out that the only way for us to experience living on a sailboat and sailing was to buy our own sailboat. Crewing on other people’s boats was not a choice we could go with because we have dogs and leaving them behind was not an option.

So here we are today, ten months into it all and still non the wiser because each time we finish one chapter another one begins. This path is a long fulfilling one filled with adventure. We haven’t experienced bad weather out at sea because we haven’t let ourselves explore too far from the harbour. There’s that one bad experience that could “break us” and if we face it unprepared, we might give up? I don’t want to give up. So we push ourselves to take it slow. Don’t let others push us into doing things we are not ready to do. 

Thermal Heat Sensor for our Engine

Sailing and owning our own sailboat has definitely forced me out of my comfort zone far beyond what I expected. My perspective about many things in life have changed. I sweat less over the small stuff and I have learned to be more patient and accepting. Doubt and insecurities about my own capabilities have slowly turned into confidence as I learn about electrical wiring, engine maintenance, rigging, sailboat maintenance, navigation, sailing, sewing … Knowing that we have to rely on our own skills if we want to one day travel to remote places.

Taking it a day at a time in all weather. If the day is a hot one, I jump in the water to cool off and scrape the barnacles off our propeller. If the rain doesn’t stop pouring, I have a shower with a bar of soap. Another important thing I have noticed is my physical strength has improved, I can carry far more weight than I thought I ever could. I hate the gym and I hate exercising but if my daily life can incorporate plenty of physical activity naturally then that’s the lifestyle I want to live. 

UJUD Sailing

I have also had to find a good balance for Rene & I in this small little boat. It is a small space to live in and if we hadn’t the experience of living in our camper van, this would have been far more challenging. Living alone of a 31ft boat vs living as a couple with two BIG DOGS takes practice and patience. So for balance, we pace ourselves out. Breakfast, chores, dog duties, lunch preparation, boat work, reading, rest, evening dog duties, winding down for the day into the night. Some days it’s about packing the boat up and heading out to practice motoring, safety, anchoring and now sailing. 

The sun and the sea have helped my mind, body and soul become healthier. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. It has been ten months of hard work and even though we’re still newbies. there’s hardly anymore doubt left in my mind about our abilities to become good sailors. I know that in time, if we keep on going one step at a time, with team work and commitment to learning – we will gain more experience and sail further and further away from land on our own.

Relationship wise, Rene and I have become closer. We spend every minute of everyday together and we are heading towards 25 years of friendship. We have grown so much as a couple from when we began.

The Open Ocean

FUTURE HOPES AND DREAMS

RENE : To gain more sailing experience and to become one with my boat in all weather. Calm seas don’t make good sailors and I don’t look forward to that time when we will have to face bad weather but I have to face it one day. I also want to sail to remote places that one can only reach by boat. 

SAM : To become good sailors.

View from our Porthole
BBQ with Cruisers
VIP Passengers onboard UJUD

2 comments

  1. Good fortune for your ambitions. The preparation undertaken so far is admirable. You write about your spirit and yearnings for adventure in a very heartfelt way. All the best on your amazing journey.

    Like

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