I’ve recently been asking a perhaps fairly obvious question – why do you sail? I’ve been asking people who are sailing enthusiasts, and who have at least one boat of their own. It’s an obvious question, but what has struck me is the sheer variety when it comes to the answers I have received.
I thought I’d share some of these observations with you, as well as getting you to think about what the reason is for your interest in setting out across the water in thirty odd feet of boat whenever you get the chance. Perhaps your reason is found below, and shared by others, or perhaps you have your own, in which case I’d love to hear it – please do leave a comment below and add to the discussion.
I suppose that sailing is in our blood. We are an island nation, and we always have been, and to get anywhere else we have had to sail. Our navy has been one of the finest in the world, and our boating and sailing heritage is second to none. Of the most famous boats in the world we have been behind almost all of them, and so heading out across the water is as natural as coming out of the cave to slaughter a wild boar. Well, you know what I mean.
Perhaps those of us who were brought up by the sea feel it most, but I think there is indisputedly something about being an island nation which makes us hanker for a bit of sea spray and wind once in a while. Can you actually have sea spray in your blood? I don’t know, but I think I know a few people who would argue that you can.
This surprised me, but then as I thought about it I realised that a lot of us probably feel this way if we’re truthful. Whether you own your own house or not, or even own your own car, the ground and the road still feel part of something not owned by you. We’re still tied to rules, regulations, the humdrum mundane of the everyday lives of those around us.
Setting sail frees us from the land, from the static and the everyday. It frees us from country and kings, from road signs and rules. It’s a freedom which is unmatched, and whilst setting sail, that thirty odd feet of boat (or more if you’re lucky) is not just yours, not just your home, it’s an island nation in its own right for a while. You’re alone, untouchable, free and truly the king of your own little part of the globe.
Knowing that you can harness such a raw power as the wind to go where you please, to listen to the water sliding past the hull, the boat tugging on the wheel, the spray shooting in your face, and then to arrive somewhere new, to pull up into a harbour which smells different, sounds different and looks inviting, to tie up and walk away looking back at your boat bobbing on the gentle tide and to think that you, and you alone, navigated to that spot is a feeling which is often wholly unattainable in an ordinary everyday existence.
Then of course I got the variety of responses which raised a smile. For some the excuse is simply that if they drank as much on land as they do while sailing they’d be classed as an alcoholic, but whilst at sea they’re just having a good time. Others suggested that they sail because they can’t yet walk on water, but perhaps my favourite response of all was the simplest. One person said to me that they don’t choose to sail for any particular reason – they don’t choose to sail at all: they have to.
So what’s your reason for sailing? Leave your thoughts below and share how you feel about sailing.