What would be your ultimate sailing dream? Sarah Norbury has inspiration for sailing bucket list adventures
Sail around the world
Done the Atlantic? How about the world? To circumnavigate the globe with the Clipper Round the World Race you will need an entire gap year and around £50,000. Not for the faint-hearted, crews live in spartan conditions and can encounter extreme weather but get the achievement of having raced around the world.
“It has been an amazing experience – a rollercoaster. That sounds very clichéd, but it really has been.” Mike Miller, 49, from Windsor, achieves his life’s dream of sailing round the world with the Clipper Race, which finished in July 2018 in Liverpool.
For years he put his dream on hold, content to race his 24ft sportsboat while working as a finance director in telecoms, but at the London Boat Show he saw the Clipper stand and within a couple of weeks had signed up.
He enjoyed the neck-and-neck racing in the one-design 70ft boats. “From Panama to New York our boat, Sanya Serenity Coast, was only about five miles apart from Unicef, which really keeps you on top of your game. We were fighting the whole way, and that kept it very exciting.
“I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I actually found it is less demanding on the sailing side, having had a lifetime of experience, but more demanding in terms of living in each other’s pockets and keeping morale on board up.”
He’d highly recommend doing the entire race as opposed to one or two legs. “I am so excited to finish and to say I have completed the full circumnavigation of the globe.”
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Those who dream of a round the world cruise instead should look up the World ARC rally which starts and finishes in St Lucia and takes around 15 months. You can buy a berth with Rubicon 3 for £55,000 for the circumnavigation.
If that’s too much of a commitment, each leg is an adventure in itself. Dan Bowers’ highly rated Skyelark of London offers single berth leg charters on the World ARC for around £4,000, such as the one from Panama to Galapagos. Leg distances range from 1,000-3,500 miles.
Bruce Jacobs, one of Rubicon’s founders, says the Indian Ocean leg from Darwin, Australia to Mauritius is the one he’d most love to do himself. The first stop, Lombok in Indonesia, is a tropical paradise visited only by surfers until very recently when it came onto the tourism radar.
Jacobs says: “People who’ve been there rave about the mountains, forests and active volcanoes. It’s one of those emerging places like Cuba was a few years ago. Now is the time to go.”
“I have always dreamed of going to Christmas Island,” he added, “it’s called the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean for its spectacular natural wonders including rainforests, waterfalls, coral reefs and white sharks.”
That is just one stopover on the 44-day, 800-mile voyage that covers three-quarters of the Indian Ocean. Others are the remote Cocos Keeling islands.
Almost all Rubicon’s paying crew is aged 40-60. Jacobs says: “Many are people who have been working really hard for the last 20-25 years and have put cash aside and now want to live their life. The social aspect of our trips is key and we get a fascinating mix of people – doctors, famous chefs, architects, surgeons, entrepreneurs, who all seem to share a similar mindset. The majority tend to be still working, with maybe 10 or 20 % of each trip are just retired and embarking on a special adventure to mark that point in their life.
“The crews seem to be self-selecting, the type of person who does our trips is self-reliant and flexible. Some long-term friendships have been made on board, whether in the tropics or high up in Spitsbergen.”
For some, an organised event is not unique enough, in which case consider the highly experienced 59 North team of Andy Schell and Mia Karlsson, who take a small number of crew on their Swan 48 on voyages everywhere from the Arctic to the Caribbean.
“Mia and I started the business as a way to share our passion for ocean sailing with other likeminded people,” said Andy. “We offer adventurous spirits the opportunity to sail offshore on a long-distance ocean passage. We set an ambitious schedule, sailing 10,000 miles per year on Isbjörn, making landfall in ports from the Caribbean to the Arctic, Bermuda, Europe, Cuba, Canada and beyond.”
The couple have made bucket list dreams come true for people from all walks of life, from “a bus driver from Toronto who had never sailed before, a couple who had sailed their own boat in the ARC double-handed, but wanted to do the harder, return route to Europe with us, and a 78-year-old retired US Senator.”