Because we would not want you to go into your weekend all happy and stuff. We want to bring you pain. And because of that, we bring you….Brian Hancock

When I started out sailing for a living in the late 70’s there was no money in it, well very little. I made ends meet by repairing sails for other boats on my hand crank Singer sewing machine, banged out articles on an old manual typewriter and gave talks at local yacht clubs. When I started giving talks I had a 1960’s Sears box slide projector and a tape player as props and the shows were a big success.
This was long before YouTube and online video streaming. Most sailors had never seen what the Southern Ocean looked like and what life was like on board a boat racing around the world.  One question that I was repeatedly asked was “what’s the hardest part about sailing around the world?” My answer was a bit facetious but it was also true. I would answer, “the hardest part about sailing around the world is leaving the dock.”
You see many people have ambitions to sail away over that distant horizon but there is always some excuse that keeps them from leaving. “I am waiting for that new weather routing software to come out so we will probably leave next spring,” or “my sons graduating this summer so we will probably leave in the Fall.” You see what I mean, always some reason to put off leaving the dock until it’s too late and you are too old to go. I belong to quite a few Facebook groups that are sailing related and it seems as if the story has not changed much. People are still waiting for something or someone and making excuses until the dream never happens.
Having said all that I was more than a little amused to read all the hue and cry on various sailing forums about the latest travesty where four completely inexperienced sailors took off from San Francisco bound for San Diego and didn’t get much past the breakwater before the engine crapped out and the boat ran aground. There was some downright indignation among the readers. “How dare they take to sea without taking to appropriate Coast Guard courses,” or, and this one was even worse, “what was a seven month pregnant woman doing on a boat anyway?” One of the crew was apparently well along with child and in her defense she told the press that she would “probably not sail again until after the baby was born.”
This story comes on the heels of Thing One and Thing Two, the two ladies and their dog who were rescued in the Pacific Ocean last year after having drifted aimlessly for five months. It also comes on the heels of the story of the two American sailors who left from Norway bound for the US and had to be rescued nine times in seven months. They didn’t even make it past England. The sailing forums were full of indignant sailors once again asking how it was possible that these outrages could possibly have been allowed to happen.
Well you know what, I am on the side of the hapless. At least they left the dock. Sure maybe they were ill prepared and had to seek rescue but we are becoming so risk averse that it’s bordering on ridiculous. Here’s a thought. People used to go offshore and navigate with a thing called a sextant. Some even circumnavigated without an engine, others used baling wire and duct tape to hold things together. At least they left the dock and gave it a go and I say that we need more people like them and less people snickering behind their anonymity as they smugly post on Facebook.
As the actor and author Sterling Hayden once said. “To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.”
I am sure that many posting have probably not undertaken any kind of voyage. If they had they would know that things can and probably will go wrong. It’s a sailboat after all. I have been sailing for 40 years and have managed to hit a reef, run aground and get a jump start from a passing Chinese freighter in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Do enough miles and sooner or later something is going to go awry. So let’s cut this latest lot to make News Headlines a bit of a break. At least they left the dock.