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Owners' advice: An insider's guide to world circumnavigation
It's all relative
Image courtesy of Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
Yacht owners and racers who have done it already offer their advice to help you get the most out of your epic world circumnavigation...
It's all relative: Dee Caffari, record-breaking circumnavigator
“You go through a storm and it’s bad, but the next storm is a comparison to the last one – is it as bad or is it a little easier? And you grow in confidence as you go,” says Dee Caffari, who just finished her sixth circumnavigation, this time as skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race team Turn the Tide on Plastic.
Oddly enough, Caffari says she never set out to sail around the world. “It was an opportunity that presented itself,” says the ex-PE teacher of skippering a yacht crewed by amateurs in the Global Challenge race in 2004, “and from there it kind of evolved. Each time I push my boundaries that little bit further.” You could say the next time she pushed a lot further. Her second circumnavigation made history as she became the first woman to sail single-handed non-stop “the wrong way around”, against the prevailing winds and currents.
So why does she do it? “I love the environment you get to play in. No two days are ever the same; you’re constantly being challenged. The ocean is a pretty magical place and I think we’re lucky to have that as our office.”
“It’s not always going to be smooth sailing, but you will regret not going,” say the owners of Enso. They were inspired by “Sailing La Vagabonde” – YouTube videos of a couple with no previous sailing experience going around the world. “They got out and did it instead of 99 per cent of the world who just think about it,” says the husband.
Enso’s owners jumped into a circumnavigation with both feet, setting off immediately after taking delivery of their new 25 metre Oyster 825. You could say their shakedown cruise was the Oyster World Rally. For the wife, it was a jump into the deep end as her previous sailing experience amounted to a week in Sardinia.
The rewards have been innumerable for Enso’s owners: from freediving with manta rays in Bora Bora to the 300kg marlin they caught and released in the Tuamotus, they have enjoyed vibrant ecosystems off the beaten yachting path. Sharing these experiences with family and friends has made it even more special.
They do admit that leaving so quickly after delivery had a downside. It took time to build the tight-knit crew they’ve had for the past 11 months. And they underestimated the impact that maintenance and warranty work would have on their time. “A new boat is always going to have a lot of warranty work in the first 12 months until it gets into its own rhythm and the crew understand the boat. A year-old boat is actually a much better proposition,” they advise.
The owners of 25 metre Southern Wind SW82 Feelin’ Good have been sailing around the world for nearly four years. “Not everyone is able to take the time to be this involved, which makes us appreciate this experience all the more,” they say.
“The long days spent sailing the open sea are the best in my opinion because it is the essence of the journey,” says the husband, who most enjoyed the stretch from Galápagos to Marquesas known as the Coconut Milk Run for its excellent sea conditions. “We sailed the entire passage on one tack! The night sky at sea is like no other, and at the midway point, the closest humans are passing overhead inside the International Space Station.”
The husband and wife both participate alongside their crew on board. “I take my watches along with everyone else, but my wife’s talent is in the galley; she can be down there cooking under any conditions,” says the husband.
Their advice for other owners is to be as involved as possible. “Be on board as much as you can and share the experience with your crew, because it will change your life.”
It's a big world
On Lenny Recanati’s office desk sits an antique globe and a model of his 27 metre Jongert Vivid, which says it all. “I have loved travelling all my life,” he says. “To do it by boat is the best way. On a boat you can go to the end of the world!” Indeed, if the world were flat, he would have fallen off. He spent 12 years travelling on Vivid and has two circumnavigations under his belt, one around the equator and one from pole to pole.
“I like the more remote places where not too many people have been.” The Antarctica expedition stands out, he says, “because of the ferocious sea. In the Drake Passage, the winds were 50mph and the seas were like mountains. The first half hour was a little scary but then the boat gets in a rhythm, you get used to it and relax.”
Enjoy the ride
Many people plan and plan and plan for a circumnavigation and still never actually do it. Eddie Jordan is the opposite. He says he has no real idea what made him want to sail around the world, but now that it’s over, he wants to do it again. Or at least some parts of it.
His was a rush to the starting line of the first Oyster World Rally in 2013 with his then new 27 metre 885 Lush (above). Not studying the cruising guides in advance had some benefits. “I like the surprise element,” he says. “For example, I had never heard of the San Blas islands – probably the last set of islands in the world where they don’t have a currency and operate on a barter system. Our watermakers were running full time to give them as much water as they needed and we got beads and vegetables. We fished off the back of the boat all the time. We had the most magnificent fresh tuna carpaccio with a big glass of rosé wine; that for me was just heaven.”
Some destinations that he had built up in his mind before the trip, such as Bora Bora, turned out to be a disappointment. But there are other places he’d like to return to, such as Rangiroa, the Tuamotus’ largest atoll, where he swam with 50 to 60 blacktip sharks that came close enough to nip at his nose. And he never got a chance to visit Vanuatu. He plans to remedy that, perhaps on his just-purchased 45 metre Perini Navi sailing yacht Blush.
“If you want to have a mixture between enjoying the sailing, cruising, a bit of a party, friends on board, I don’t think there’s any better
way to do that than a sailing boat,” says the man who owned Sunseeker motor yachts for three decades. “And I like to be closer to the sea,” he adds. “With this new Perini I’m able to go out the lazarette and just dive into the water.”
You must adore the sea
“Sailing long distances is not for everybody,” says the owner of the 56 metre Alloy Mondango 3. “If one tends to motion sickness, definitely not. And even if not, one has to be happy with the quiet and tranquillity of being on the sea for days without the sight of land.”
He wasn’t so sure about himself at first. “Although I had always been a water person, I had never been to sea, as in a long crossing in my own vessel. My wife had only crossed the Atlantic on a large passenger liner. So we did an experimental crossing on Sea Cloud from the Canary Islands to Antigua. It was an easy crossing. However, there was very little wind. The one time the sails went up was very exciting and we were hooked. Since then, he and his wife have logged more than 200,000 nautical miles between their two Mondangos and they always do the crossings.
To other owners considering the same, he says you must adore the open sea and the peace and quiet that comes with it. He also warns that mistakes come with the territory. “Although I have been involved in water sports and sailing dinghies most of my life, this dream was fraught with mistakes,” he says. “You have to go through this no matter from whom you buy your boat. Constant vigilance. Constant spending. Constant adoring.”