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Owners' advice: An insider's guide to world circumnavigation

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It's all relative

Dee Caffari, record-breaking circumnavigator

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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.”

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Just jump

The owners of Enso

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“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.

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Get involved

The owners of Feelin’ Good

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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.”

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