The art of the sailor is to leave nothing to chance

This time of the year we do a lot of deliveries, bringing yachts to their summer cruising grounds. These trips at the beginning and the end of the season reminds many of us, Pocket Superyacht crew, why we made sailing the 50ft to 100ft range of luxury yachts our job; The true love for offshore sailing. In the middle of the summer the Mediterranean sailing conditions can sometimes be a little too comfortable and benign.


The focus shifts to keeping the yacht clean, to technical maintenance and of course to hospitality. Conditions are so easy that we stand the risk of becoming complacent towards safety until a September storm sends us a (not so) gentle first reminder. Bringing the yacht to the next pick up point for guests is done under time pressure which, in combination with light airs often prevents crew from quenching their sailing thirst. 


But a delivery in March or April, that takes you through the Bay of Biscay or the Golfe de Lion, can put your salty sailors skills to the test again.

“The art of the sailor is to leave nothing to chance.”

This is a quote by Annie Van de Wiele which I saw on the American Sailing Association’s Instagram. First of all, I didn’t know who Annie Van de Wiele was but a quick Google search revealed to my surprise that she is a fellow country woman of mine born in Belgium in 1922. She was a writer and a sailor who circumnavigated the world with her husband in 1950. How come I hadn’t heard from her before? 

The quote, however, did ring a bell, very much so in fact. In our online training videos for How To Work On Pocket Superyachts we explain that a truly professional yacht captain is continuously thinking about all the different things that can go wrong and how to react to them. 

I feel we are not doing this enough. I sense that most sailors are optimistic people. That most of them started sailing in the Optimist class may be an indication. But you don’t have to be a pessimist to imagine all the things that can break or go wrong when you’re navigating, inshore or offshore on a sail- or motor yacht. 

Safety should be the number one, two and three priority of every pro!

Recently, Nathan Skinner created a really on-point post on the Palma Yacht Crew Facebook group about going aloft and the use of two halyards and other safety measures. It’s worth to have a look at what he wrote and the reactions he received. He pointed out how he’s worked on some yachts where a macho culture prevented some basic safety measures to be taken. 

But how can you possibly look stronger than when you (male or female) master the art of the sailor and are keeping your crew safe at all times? 

Article published in The Islander Magazine March 2019

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