Learn fast, our lives depend upon it!

Easter 2017 and the dream of sailing oceans was becoming our reality but did we have the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude to make the humongous leap into being full-time cruisers? Quite simply the answer to that was NO. However, the date to commence the life changing journey had been set to June 2020 and so with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation we started to build our knowledge and skills.


Sandpiper going over the bar, Whitehaven UK - Photo by Adrian Walker

Both Gary and I, had and still do have a huge appetite for learning, mine quite simply based on the fact that learning & development has been my career for the last 30 years and to be frank for this adventure to be successful, my life depended on me knowing and experiencing a whole lot more before slipping the lines for good. Whilst Gary’s life depended on it too, his appetite comes from his incurable curiosity to understand everything inside and out, in detail and with depth. I kid you not, some would say as deep as the ocean!


Hours on the water was key and so we decided to join the local sailing club. At first I hesitated, as the voice in my head loudly blared,


‘’Why on earth would you join a Sailing Club? You will show yourself up and you don’t know enough to sail out of the lock gates, never mind race!’’


I speak for myself here as Gary had no such gremlin in his head he was ready for the racing challenge and welcomed the camaraderie that a sailing community could bring.


I searched my mind for the positive reasons to join a sailing club and I told myself that likeminded people liked to talk about their own experiences, therefore engage in all things sailing, remain curious and wisdom and conversation will follow. I was worthy of being part of any sailing conversation and as for the bit about me lacking in sailing experience, well I know how to fail with grace. If I make mistakes or don’t get it right first time those become experiences which I can recall and use to my advantage in the future. Let’s just choose to see fail as an acronym - First Attempt Is Learning.


With my head more engaged we paid a few pounds and joined our local sailing club. Over time we joined in the odd social event, mingled with the members and listened to the salty stories and the varied opinions of how best to sail the Irish Sea. The Irish sea after all does have the challenges of being quite shallow along with the convergence of the tides coming around the north and south tips of Ireland from the Atlantic creating short steep waves not to mention the Lakeland fells wind impact. The list of projects onboard Sandpiper were long but the club racing calendar enhanced our boating experience and gave us reason and an excuse to make time for being out on the open sea. Our home waters were challenging and whilst racing, additional crew were always welcomed aboard, although Gary and I soon realized that choosing crew was an art and more about personality than skill set. We did ok in the racing but most importantly we learned a lot about Sandpipers sailing capability, she was our teacher on many occasions, coaxing us to push on and slapping us wildly if we got complacent. The racing certainly accelerated our learning in the company of others which was undoubtedly our aim and something we needed to achieve quickly.


Sandpiper and Phoenix Racing on the Irish Sea – Photo by WSBA

Joining the club was something that captured my attention and drew me in so much that I accepted the offer to become the club secretary. A position which I enjoyed but I soon came to realize that the role consumed an awful lot of time and effort, which detracted from our overall goal of preparing Sandpiper and ourselves for a life at sea. A stark reminder to me that time is the most precious commodity we have and where you spend it should be very carefully considered, as once it is spent it has gone forever.


Certified education was also high on our agenda and we sharpened our knowledge by participating in First Aid, VHF Radio and Yacht Masters Theory courses. Our tutor for the Yacht Master came highly recommended, many told us to contact Keith at Nicholas George Associates and so we did. Navigation and weather systems made so much more sense with Keith, an extraordinary man who taught us many things over above this course . We often page through books he recommended, spell bound by Admiralty publications and other treasures of navigational information, tips and secrets.

Tanya Moxon, a lady with a deep-seated fear of the sea but here she is pushing back on conventional life and enjoying a full-time life upon the open seas. Tanya is the founder of Fearless Feat Ltd, a leadership coaching company who supports others to perform at their best.

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