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Sailing the globe – the yachtsman dream

Skipper’s Tips: Bucket-list Brigade

There’s a new breed of sailor on the ocean. Their ranks have been growing steadily, along with their collective net worth. These are the Bucket List Brigade, those who have decided that at a late stage of life they need to go sail a large yacht around the surface of the globe. Many are inspired by stories of personal friends or acquaintances who have done this very thing whilst others see 16-year-olds such as Laura Dekker crank out a circumnavigation and picture themselves doing the same.

It’s a laudable ambition but one that has until recently been reserved to those who actually know how to sail, those who have had some experience of the oceans and their fickle nature. The Bucketeers have a different approach, one that decrees that their money will buy them the know-how and the equipment to take the journey without having to sweat the details too much. It will be a quick trip: two years max. Get around the globe, blog it, tweet it, sell the yacht and then move on to the next item on the list. Of course, there exists an army of marine professionals eager to lend a hand to enable this dream become a reality. Sailing schools, yacht sales agents, electronics manufacturers, all have their finger poised for a plunge into the pie.

The result can be seen in the marinas of the Caribbean, including our fair BVI. A couple with the money to commission and outfit a modern cruising yacht begins to tally the likely number of people who will wish to join them on their adventures. Kids, first of all. And what if the kids get married soon and have their own children? Siblings, aged parents, old work colleagues, new sailing friends—a list is prepared. Suddenly that 40-foot monohull isn’t really going to be roomy enough for all the expected social events. “How can we ask Jim and Sally—with their Montauk mansion and their place in Jackson—to bunk in the V-berth of our cozy yacht?” they ask themselves. The answer is clear. A 50-foot catamaran is required, and ordered.

A new yacht requires outfitting. Crystal glasses and porcelain plates are requisitioned. Egyptian cotton bedding. All are procured and installed. The yacht leaves the factory for its delivery cruise and arrives beaten half to death by the merciless ocean. Repairs must be made. The lawyers are apprised that there is a problem with the warranty. Voices are raised.

“But it will all be fine on the day, once we learn to sail,” the happy couple tells themselves.

An instructor is found, one who will sail with them for weeks at time.

After a few days, the couple is informed by the instructor that the boat they have purchased is exactly the wrong vessel for the two of them to use to make a circumnavigation. It’s enormous, first off. Bigger than Donald Trump’s handbag. “How are you going to keep watch?” the instructor enquires, “given that you have a 3-story boat.” “What?” they respond. “What’s a watch?” The instructor begs off and another is found. He loves the boat but thinks the couple needs a full-time captain. Such as himself.

Well, you know how it works. These days the catamaran is out on charter, working for a living and the couple, now persuaded that their dreams of world conquest are to be no more than that, have signed up for a Moorings ownership plan. At least they’ll get to see some of the world from the cockpit of a yacht almost exactly the same as their own.

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