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A member writes | Robin Jones

(09 May 2017)


Hello to all my INSC friends, 

 

I understand that people have been asking after me and wondering where I have disappeared too. Firstly please except my apologies for not being able to share my news until now. This was due to circumstances beyond my control. As I was not about for most of the last six months, due to family matters that I had to attend to in the UK. Also as with most of the sailing opportunities I have found, they tend to be a bit like the weather forecast. In that they may or may not come to pass and certainly for me like the weather forecast, I only start to think about the possibility of them holding true inside of the forty eight hour window. But I have been on quite the adventure and have a lot to share.

 

So my current circumstances came about, when a while ago I realised that I wanted to spend as much of my time on earth sailing. No surprise I am sure to many but I have only recently been able to act on my obsession. I may have found sailing later in life but am determined to make up for lost time. I had realised that sailing will allow me to travel and see different cultures. But that is also only the cream on the top of my sailing cake. Because I find with sailing the journey is often as rewarding as the destination if not more so. As I have a love and fascination for both sailing and the sea. I never understood when I read about a person, who was said to have been 'stolen by the sea' until I experienced it in myself. I have found it to be a truly wonderful, magical, exciting and even on occasion scary but spiritual place. I often find it to be a truly mystical experience. It is the only place where I can say I have on occasion gone beyond peak experiences and found utter bliss. I went to a planetarium recently and came away for the first time disappointed. As it could not do justice to the stars and the view of the milky way you see offshore. Each sunrise and sunset is superb and to see Dolphins swimming around the bow and look into each others eyes, you make contact with another species which is incredible. Or watching as a flock of gannets dive into the sea in a feeding frenzy, indicating that below the surface other predators are attacking a huge school of fish. Two thirds of our planet is covered by the sea and it is one of the last truly wild places. For myself I have also found in the few years that I have sailed, that it teaches some very good life lessons as well. Ok I am starting to sound like the android at the end of 'Bladerunner.' Enough of that but it really feeds my soul.

 

In finding all of this I have realised that to chase it is a great risk in terms of my long term finances and my future generally. But also that I have little choice as if I do not, that it will be one of  the greatest regrets of my life and one that I believe I could not tolerate. So I have decided to see where the sailing will take me. After all they say that at the end of it all, it is not what you do but what you don't do that you regret?


I have been lucky in that my discovery of this passion, has coincided with a set of both fortunate and unfortunate circumstances. Which thankfully have combined to give me the freedom to pursue my sailing passions.

 

I did not waste my enforced sabbatical on land in the UK. I put my name out and about amongst the networks of sailing people I have made contact with since I started sailing. I asked their advice and considered a number of options and routes that would allow me to enter the sailing world full time. My options were to buy a boat and learn and explore the cruising life as I went along. I was even offered a free forty foot catamaran in Corfu! Which the locals considered a cursed boat due to its somewhat sad and unfortunate history. I must say I was very tempted but I like mono hulls and it would have taken a lot of work to get it sea worthy again. But in the end I have decided against a boat for now, in case I wake up one morning and come to my senses. I doubt it but you never know? Besides I don't think I am ready for what I want to do yet and I see no point in buying a yacht, when I could not take it where I wish due to my lack of knowledge. All in good time.

 

I was offered a partnership in a stay and sail business in Corfu. Which was why I was in Corfu being offered a free catamaran. But committing to the stay and sail would require me to bring a 45 to 50ft yacht to start the business. A greek sailing friend providing a twelve bedroom villa. But my finances would be completely eaten by that purchase, even if I found a cheap but sound vessel in that size.Then there is the famous Greek bureaucracy around setting up a business. Besides while messing around in Corfu and the local islands may seem a wonderful opportunity. It would become a repetitive sailing experience for me and I would be chained to the business for five or six months each year repeating the same experience every week. It would also prevent me from travelling very far between the end and start of the working season, in a boat that would be to large to single hand sensibly. So I feel that this option is both high risk and to restrictive on my sailing ambitions. I could end up at the other end with a failed business and a fifty foot boat that I could not afford to maintain or easily sell. A nightmare end to my sailing, which above all else I intend to protect. So I think taking all the above into account I will probably pass. It is a hard decision to make as I imagine that such opportunities do not arise to often and if it worked would supply an income. But having said that I was recently approach about a similar deal sailing out of Athens. So maybe there are opportunities out there for people who are committed and the sailing industry is very under staffed worldwide.

 

In the end I have decided to take a cautious approach, in some ways a kind of sailing holding pattern. That will allow me to learn and research the cruising life without to much risk. So I am now a sailing hitch hiker. I seem to have the happy knack of connecting well within the sailing community. I suspect because people see my passion and enjoy my somewhat enthusiastic and eccentric approach to sailing. So I met a person via the internet who was looking for some crew to sail between March and September in the Aegean and Ionian sea. So after a few e mails a meeting was suggested and as the owner was in Crete at the time checking the yacht and I was in Corfu. I travelled across and stayed for a week on the boat to see if we would be happy to sail together.  Happily at the end of the week we agreed that we could do same. So I have been in Agios Nikolaos in Crete for the last week. Working on getting a first forty ready for our cruises.


I will see how this life works over the summer and if possible arrange for another ride over the winter months if it agrees with me. I have the idea at the moment that I would like to head towards the caribbean. But to be honest I don't really mind once I have a berth. I have a small income to survive on and the cost of living in Greece is sensible. My friends here think that two grand is plenty for the summer. I need to research the Caribbean both in terms of cost and personal safety. Which sadly is an issue there and I have heard some horror stories. So if it is the case that I cannot get a berth, which I would be mildly surprised with. I will rent a small apartment and winter here in Crete or in Corfu.I have researched accommodation costs on both islands and to rent a two bedroom flat is around two hundred and fifty a month so is very possible. Which will be no hardship as I have always loved Greece and its people. They seem to be very kind and generous in nature. I have a few on land business ideas that I can pursue and work on whilst wintering here. I will work on my theory as I go along and get a few qualifications behind me. Then I will hopefully be able to get some income from teaching and yacht delivery work in a couple of years. In the meantime once I am sensible with the money and don't dip into the savings there should hopefully be no pressure.

 

So that is about all I have been up to and what I have discovered over the last few months. Hopefully it will all work out and I will continue to sail and enjoy it. Anyway I have rambled on quite enough for now. If people have an interest I will drop a line every now and again with any developments, insights or knowledge I discover about this type of sailing experience.

 

So take care of those 1720s, especially the spinnakers. I will be back hopefully for a visit and a sail at some point.


All the best,
Robin.
 



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