I learned about sailing watching YouTube posts

By John Toth

The Bulletin


I have this dream that one day I would sail away into the sunset on my comfortable yacht, sipping decaffeinated coffee on the deck, watching the water lap at the hull.


We would dine on fresh catch as the sailboat island-hopped in the Caribbean. I would only sail to warm weather ports, since I am allergic to the cold.


What gave me the idea was a YouTube channel called “La Vagabonde.” It’s about an Australian family with two small kids sailing full-time, having a lot of fun. They explore all corners of the world, build campfires on unoccupied beaches, snorkel through reefs and don’t have a care in the world.


They are much younger than me, so I would get a bigger, newer boat with all the latest gadgets, including satellite Internet, so I could upload my adventures while cruising the Caribbean portion of the Seven Seas.


Adventures like drinking decaf in the morning, looking up at the sails as the wind carries the boat to our destination - exciting videos like that.


I would even do some snorkeling, since I now know how, provided that I have an inflatable life vest so that all of my head does not have to go underwater, just enough to take some fascinating videos of fish.


Then I switched YouTube channels to watch “Sailing One Life.” A childless couple in their 30s post videos there of their sailing experiences, which may be somewhat closer to reality.


I’m not doubting the Australian family’s sailing experiences, only saying that there is another side to full-time sailing that may require some work other than watching the sails while sipping decaf.


My dream of sailing into the sunset may require some revision, like hiring a full-time crew to do the sailing part. Sharon and I could prepare the meals, but on some mornings, it would have to be cereal and almond milk, because we won’t feel like getting up early all the time.


I don’t know if the crew would like that, since they were probably up all night sailing the ship after the autopilot broke.


That was the couple’s biggest concern on “Sailing One Life,” because it broke all the time. When that happens, they have to do the steering in shifts, which means not getting much sleep.


Other things broke too, like the diesel engine, the wind sensor and the toilet, to name a few. Water also got into the living quarters, and they could not find the source of the leak.


The weather did not behave all the time. The large swells made the 42-foot boat rock like a runaway cradle with the baby holding onto dear life.


“Most trips are struggles, but the destinations are worth it,” said the young woman on one of the videos.


I don’t like the struggle part.


I like the smooth sailing part, when the winds are calm, and the boat is steady, But if the winds are calm, the sails are useless. Turn on the motor then. Oh, yeah. It does not start. Why not?


A fuel line was clogged. It took a while to drain the diesel tank and search for the culprit.


After hours of troubleshooting and repairs, the engine still did not work. I have a big problem with that in the open seas, where you can’t call a mechanic - or anyone else.


And the part about the destinations being worth it, that seems to be the case, sometimes.

Countries don’t let sailboats come into their territory just like that. Sailors have to go through customs and pay hefty fees to enter and leave. The bureaucracy and run-around are enough to regret ever going there.


“You have to fight through the hard days to get to the best days,” the woman professed in another clip. “The maintenance is never-ending.”


Dream shattered.


I think I’ll just let someone else worry about all these details while I go to brunch, the pool deck and enjoy working out in an empty gym. That’s right - the closest I’ll ever get to sailing off into the sunset is on a cruise ship.


That’s not bad, though, and there is no chance that I’ll have to do a night watch while sipping decaf.


(Send comments to john.bulletin@gmail.com.)