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Why go sailing?

A whole book could be written on this subject. There is the rather trite analogy to standing in a cold shower tearing up 50 notes. Why should anyone want to do that? There is a little truth in it, but you can in practice influence the temperature of the shower and the denomination of the notes that you are destroying. You can choose where you sail and what you sail, a 70 foot trimaran dodging icebergs in the Southern Ocean, a modest dinghy on a lake or reservoir, or a flotilla cruise off Turkey.

The fundamental attraction is still the same. While sailing you are managing, as far as you are able to, your interaction with the environment and natural forces that are beyond your direct control. You achieve this using a range of skills, from the sense of touch to an understanding of navigation and vectors, and occasionally a physical challenge. We do not control the weather, nor the ebb and flow of the tides, but we can attempt to predict their effect, and compensate for them. We must constantly monitor the strength and direction of the wind, our position, and the state of the tide, and make the appropriate adjustments. Whether the objective you set yourself is to sail around some cans faster than your competitors, or to arrive safely at a foreign port, is practically irrelevant. Because sailing requires a degree of concentration on your immediate surroundings, other concerns such as worries about work sink into the background. For the time that you are on the water at least, and the result is both satisfying and relaxing.

Add to all this the fact that you are in the fresh air, taking exercise, observing nature and natural phenomena, seeing new places, encountering new cultures, making new friends. You can visit places that cannot be reached any other way. You can relax and enjoy your surroundings in peace having arrived.

Sailing is often dismissed as a rich man's sport. Of course, at one level, it is. But if you choose a level of sailing that you are comfortable with, it need not be any more expensive than many other pastimes.