Lessons From A Circumnavigation

Story & Photos By Scott Flanders
Published: October/November 2013

Big adventures start with baby steps, a yearning to get more out of everyday life, learning boating lessons the hard way, and a giant leap of faith.

With Sea Miles Comes Knowledge

Do you see a common thread here? Mary and I started as every boater does, at the beginning. We made plenty of mistakes, learned from them, and kept pushing our comfort zone. But we never felt at risk. This discipline of learning continues to this day. With sea miles comes knowledge. With knowledge comes physical and mental comfort. Your comfort level at sea is a constantly moving target, increasing by the mile. Directly associated with comfort and your natural desire to expand your cruising territory is your boat. There are as many different personal situations as there are boats, so no single boat, brand, or size is perfect for everyone. We bought a boat that could "do it all" in case we wanted to head offshore. For us it was the right decision and there's no boat we'd rather have than Egret. Her 130-horse "Happy Little Lugger" main engine has never missed a beat in more than 11,000 engine hours and more than a few miles. She's a fine little ship, and takes good care of us.

Now for more good news. If you're worried about sticking your precious in the mud, getting lost, or doing something silly, you have a big advantage over Egret's early days. Electronic navigation today is spot-on versus when we started years ago. It's amazing to watch the little red boat march across the screen, and feel confident knowing exactly where we are, 24 hours a day. Radar is a good friend, and never lies. One relatively new safety item is AIS — Automatic Identification System. All commercial ships at sea and many pleasure craft these days have AIS, including Egret. It once saved us from a probable collision with a high-speed ferry off the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

Photo of Ponza, Italy
Ponza, Italy, on the way to a favorite ristoranté.

And yes, of course you'll stick your precious in the mud if you live on the U.S. East Coast. It's inevitable for us all. In fact, last year Egret was a mud puppy twice in the ICW. It's no big deal. We all do it. Everyone thinks the world is watching your mishaps. Get over it. It's no biggie. You can't compare an occasional bit of embarrassment to the freedom you enjoy. And while we're rolling along here, here's a pet peeve. Don't Yell. Yelling at your significant other isn't productive. Squinty-eyed hate comes to mind. To this day, I drive while docking and Mary runs the deck without help, even if we have experienced boating friends aboard. Just develop your own routine, stick with it, and it will work every time.

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