Date: Sun Sep 23, 2001 9:54 am

For much of my life I have done deliveries to various places in the world. When aboard my own boat I tend to sail single and short-handed. Only once have I attempted this on one long offshore. I delivered a very ocean capable Nordica 20 from Jamaica to Norfolk. It proved only that I won't do that distance, alone, again.

In the decision to go it alone you must first discover something very unusual in yourself. The list of things that make the defined single-hander are often beyond most of our deepest understandings as sailors. But the facts are quite clear. The dangers they expose themselves and other to may not be worth accepting this unique challenge of long distance voyaging.

Some years ago I was invited to be a participant in the support group for the original BOC Challenges. I was to meet at length with several members of the cadre of sailors who would become the competitors. Those few totally dedicated singles I have met seem to have followed a very strict mental, physical and emotional code based upon some unfathomable need. If I were allowed generalizations that described the men I met... very weird, wonderful and reclusive. Even in our brief meeting a few months ago I would not find it in me to make that characterization of you.

If it advice from me you are asking... I say it is not a good idea unless you have had the prior experience and can embrace it from all of its critical aspects.

Those who cross oceans with others should also be very comfortable with the crew they choose. Living and working aboard a small boat for more than about five days requires a certain synergy that is rare.

My own experience with a very close friend and coastal cruising companion more than 20-years, on his first lengthy offshore became dangerous and ridiculous over an insignificant incident. I was able to diffuse a situation where he had retrieved a shotgun from our stores and had aimed it at my chest. He had become affected by a deadly combination of his lethargic seasickness, unreasonable and unspoken fears following our encounter with Hurricane Dean and having run out of cigarettes. We are still very close but don't go too far offshore any longer.

I strongly advise doing your voyage, particularly if it will be your first, with proven crew if at all possible.

Date: Sun Sep 23, 2001 1:46 pm

Can only agree that

(a) offshore single handling is marvellous for some people but not for the grat majority, and precludes insurance coverage, always an interesting if not the ultimate test. this from a guy that treasures single handling enywhere, while welcoming good company; My real test was my wife entreaties to limit singlehandling to the max and only interisland/coastal

(b) Crew choice... Of the 3 French acquaintances/skippers who helped on long passages, two became very good friends and we wish we can sail any length of time on each other's boat; one phased out, having been a bit traumatized by the big storm. He left me on arrival in Horta, with repairs and all, plus telling my wife that he thought he was about to die... not the best for a wife worrying about the next 11 months!

My only additional requirement would be "willing and able to cook in turn": except for one of the crew who is a superb charter cook as well, I did most of the cooking, having started the leg while the crew was gaining their sealegs. They then resisted any hint for what they would like to cook and eat... "Young" retirees are best, as they can more flexibly adapt to schedule change: one was able to prolong from Canary to Cape Verde when my intended crew resigned at the last moment.

My last crew, for the VI-NY, was an American found via SSCA, tested over the net at length by my wife, a poet and philosopher who sailed 4 years around the world on his own trimaran and a mechanical-electrical guru, besides a very deep person with his own website on Melville. He is now a very good friend indeed.

Date: Mon Sep 24, 2001 1:35 am
Not sure if that is what your looking for, but at least I've tried, been out to sea for a few days, as Herman Manville once said "when you get ready to knock the hat off a stranger walking down the street then its time to go to sea to replenish the human spirit." I think that is where I was.