A big trip is the first time you take your boat out of your familiar area of operation or into open water. Whenever you go somewhere you’ve not been before you’re embarking on a new learning experience. If it’s in your plans to cross a large body of water or an ocean one day, it’s a good idea to develop your skills gradually on increasingly longer cruises and passages, step-by-step to gain experience and confidence. Some boaters just get in and go off across the horizon and make it, despite the odds. On the other hand, you can gradually improve your skills until you are more competent than you realize and never cast off those dock lines, always feeling that you or the boat are not ready. Do a realistic assessment of the boat, yourself, and your crew’s skills. What’s left to learn or do that matters enough to keep you from going? You will learn as you go; experience is a great teacher. What if everything is not perfect? Let’s face it, nothing’s ever perfect on a boat! There’s always a first time for everything, and if you’ve done all you can to prepare yourself, the boat and your crew – go for it. The butterflies in the stomach will go away, and at your first new landfall (even if it’s just across a bay) you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. For good advice, read the article by Tom Neale: “Don’t shortcut the learning curve” at http://tinyurl.com/cvnkstr.
Priscilla Travis spends more than 110 days each year on the water, takes photos, and writes about nautical topics.