Long before man invented the train and a long time before crossing the Atlantic only took eight hours, mankind, regardless of culture, era or location, have relied on sailing to develop and build the world as we know it today. Throughout centuries, we have relied on our ships to fish, trade, transport, discover, fight and conquer, as well as to satisfy our thirst for sports competition, our love of leisure and adventure, or just to put a roof over our heads. Our maritime history is as rich and ancient as humans’ history itself and is a testimony to the intricate, yet symbiotic relationship we maintain with boats and sailing as a species since the beginning of times.
My name is Roger Reid and, for those who my introduction has not already given at least one hint on what drives me to write this blog, I am passionate about everything related to sailing, boats and their history. My grandfather was a prawn fisherman from Greenock, Scotland and it is he who has awakened in me the love for fishing at sea and sailing above all. Despite the fact that I did not choose to go for a career as harsh as that undertaken by my grandad, but have devoted myself to engineering instead, which one can argue is a much quieter field than high seas prawn fishing, I have never turned my eyes away from the sea. Today, I am the proud owner of a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 449 cruising yacht that I take out at sea as often as I can with my crew of family and friends. Each time we sail on Liberty, which is the name she carries, is a new adventure full of promises of wonders, beautiful sceneries and memorable encounters.
I Love Sailing Aboard The Liberty!
PREPARING THE SHIP
Nothing equals a trip aboard the Liberty, but I must say that it does take a series of precautions. Especially when you have not yet decided on a final destination! Let me explain: It is most often with my wife, her brother and his wife that we take off cruising. Both Patrick and I have years of experience sailing which allows my wife Lucy and her sister-in-law, Kate to lay back and enjoy our journeys. Over time, we have become accustomed to no longer choose a definitive destination for our trips at sea, but rather let ourselves carried by the wind while keeping the course towards a vague idea of an area we would like to visit. Of course, we are not allowing ourselves to drift away, but we enjoy the freedom of not knowing what we are going to visit in advance. Usually, we choose a port for our first stop and then see how it goes from there by asking locals and fellow sailors where we should set our course to.
As I was saying, it requires to prepare ourselves carefully. After a thorough inspection of the boat’s equipment, rigging, engine, navigation systems, safety gear, and electrics, as well as checking the ship’s structure and cleaning the hull to ensure that she is seaworthy, I then prepare for the event of unfavorable sailing conditions. It is essential to recognize that it is possible to encounter severe weather conditions that can cause the ship to rock one way or the other, so I make sure to secure all the bulky objects on board firmly. This precaution includes securing all the objects that might move around and injure the crew in bad weather, including drawers and closets. Finally, I check the sails and reefing systems to ensure that most of the sails handling can be done single-handedly when night time sailing.
Once prepared, it is time to raise the anchor and set sails! As soon as we leave the harbor, we cut the engine and hoist the sails. They unfold and expand in a rustle from the same wind that, puff by puffs, fills our lungs with invigorating and pure sea air. This moment alone is enough to justify the patience put in preparing the trip, the days of insomnia caused by the idea of setting sails or even the budget invested in the maintenance of the ship year-round. All the time and effort put into it becomes worth it at the exact moment where we leave the mainland behind. At that point, I always am submerged by a cocktail of feelings that are so many reasons that keep me going back at sea.
Captain on board, helm in hand, I decide to go where the wind blows, setting course to new adventures! This feeling of freedom quickly blends with the incredible sight of the infinite stretch of blue waters, meeting the sky at the horizon. Soon, as we move further away from the costs, in the silence only interrupted by the murmuring of the waves and the occasional gentle slaps of the sails in the wind, the boat doesn’t feel like a boat anymore. Liberty transforms and comes to life. She becomes more than just a keel, much more than a “floating living room”. The ship becomes a part of me as much as I and the crew become a part of her. The survival of one depending on the performances of the others. There is a real intricate relationship between a ship and its sailors, a fascinating yet terrifying, thrilling relationship at that!
WHY I LOVE SAILING
In addition to the sensation of true freedom I was depicting above, I above all feel that I am tiny and insignificant when facing the immensity of the sea or the ocean on which I sail. This humbling reality forces one to reconsider one’s existence and make me relativize all my troubles. A few days at sea are for me worth a thousand session with any psychiatrist, and I find myself invigorated every time, although, I must admit that I’m addicted to the air iodine, the gentle rocking, and the shivers brought by the sea in all its states.
Every trip aboard the Liberty is filled with so many memories shared with my loved ones and are the cement that unites us forever through the experience of our fantastic adventures. Given that Lucy, Patrick, Kate and myself are used to sailing to a random port as our first stop and then carry on from there by asking locals, talking to fellow sailors or reading about the area online, we had the chance to discover many places on each side of the Mediterranean Sea over the years. The Scandinavian scenery, the Channel Islands, and the western costs of France do not have any secret for us which is why we are looking forward to crossing the Atlantic Ocean when we are ready!
Sharing My Love of Sailing and of the Sea
My relationship with the sea has given me, over the years, four passions: sailing, obviously, boat racing, history of sailing and diving. These are the topics I want to share here with whoever reads me. I will talk about why I love sailing, and about the Regatta not to be missed in the UK. I will share with you the museums I have visited in the UK and that you should visit if like me, are keen to learn about the world’s history of navigation ancient shipwrecks. Diving is my lifetime’s dream and it turns out that famous shipwrecks are some of the best diving spots in the world. Finally, there’s a couple of books I’d like to share with all sailing fans. One provides lifesaving tips and life hacks for cruiser sailors like myself. Let’s dive in!