Lessons from two hours on a yacht

The main lesson from my maiden voyage on a yacht recently is an easy one, I can quickly cut to the chase. I want to spend more time on yachts!

Where have these glorious and magnificent beasts been all my life? Honestly, if you haven’t tried it yet, do it. Just contact your local yacht club and ask some questions, I did. What a bloody wonderful experience from start to finish.

It is very social
The most pleasing observation during my time aboard was learning how conducive it is to have a conversation. I was sailing with a few mates along with the skipper and his crew of four, whom I had never met prior. I thoroughly enjoyed how easy and enjoyable it was to chit-chat, catch up or get to know one another with the wind in our remaining hair and the sea beneath our bare feet.

Yachting folks know how to entertain
The social component does not let up when you are back on shore. My local yacht club has eight beers on tap, an extensive wine list plus a menu that rivals any nearby restaurant. We were lucky enough to be greeted with platters of canapes and ice-cold alcohol upon our return, not too shabby.

After forty years I have finally discovered the joy of yachting. (Credit: Downunder Dad)

Your local yacht club is different to your local sailing club
The first question I asked when stepping on board was “how does this differ from the sailing club?” I wouldn’t say I was laughed at, however there did exist an evident level of ‘humouring me’ in the response. As it was explained to me at the time (and I am happy to be corrected) the sailing club can launch their boats off the shore or a bank, whereas yachts need an expensive marina and an engine. I gathered scale is the main factor, in a nutshell.

A quality crew needs time working together and when things are humming it is usually because all teammates know each other’s behaviours extensively.

It is like a football team
I was having such an incredible time, so similar to Augustus visiting Willy Wonka I needed to know how I could get my hands on more. I was full of enthusiastic questions. I casually asked how it all works and the reply surprised me in a delightful way. It was explained to me that all yachts need a crew and they operate a lot like a football team. Different members of the squad have varying skills, experience, traits and even body types. These factors determine the individual responsibilities when on board, particularly when it comes to racing. A quality crew needs time working together and when things are humming it is usually because all teammates know each other’s behaviours extensively. And then came the cherry on top, “yachties are always looking for keen crew members”. Yes I nodded to myself, I can see that happening, stay tuned.

You do not need to own a yacht
As outlined above, you can work hard in exchange for time on board a stunning yacht. I was always under the impression that I needed to be completely fucking loaded, stinking filthy rich to get involved in this particular privileged pastime. As it happens, I just need to wriggle my way into a needy crew and then bust my ass to ensure they want to keep me around. That is the current plan.

They use different coloured ropes
When you look up the mast of a yacht there is a lot going on. The maintained metal surfaces alone are hypnotic enough, let alone the roles of all the ropes. It reminded me of a colour-coded rail network map, each destination represented by a different colour or pattern. Which quickly made perfect sense to my novice sailing brain, obviously you need to know in an instant which rope does what and where. Just another quirky little feature of yachting that I adored.

I looked around and realised that there was very little to worry about…

They know about happiness
I could not stop smiling. The weather was on point, the air was fresh and the water felt warm on our toes as we leaned over the edge, doing our bit between tacking. The crew were friendly, the beer tasted amazing afterwards, the nibbles were top-class and the view from the deck across the still waters of the marina back at the yacht club was picture-perfect. I looked around and realised that there was very little to worry about, it would have been a difficult scenario to seek out some negativity, which I loved.

“More of what works and less of what doesn’t” has grown into a personal mantra of mine over recent years, so there simply must be more yacht-related stories in my personal future. In fact, from now on when my group fitness instructor tells me to go to my happy place I will close my eyes during that brutal plank and imagine the two hours I spent on a yacht.

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