On May 27, 2017, Livia of “Newly Salted”(newlysalted.blogspot.ca) requested an Interview of the Inspired Crew at Inspiration Sailing.
Newly Salted: What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Inspiration Sailing: Just “fair winds”, “enjoy” or “good luck” and of course “see you soon”. That is all I needed, really. Actually got a lot of that from family and friends, so that was good.
NS: As you started cruising, what transition did you find most difficult?
IS: That was pretty smooth. Have been on boats so many times before, that I knew pretty much what to expect. One difference is that when you embark a long term cruising project, you need to think about maintenance of the boat that much more than when you just sail for a few days or a couple of weeks. If you want to cruise far, you need the boat to be properly maintained at all times. The boat can really give you plenty of nautical miles if you take good care of it!
NS: What mistakes did you make before you started cruising?
IS: There are so many resources available in the public domain to study in order to prepare a cruising project, that you should at least be avoiding basic mistakes. So many individuals successfully sailed around the world before you even planned to do so: learn from them and customize their advice to your specific project requirements. In addition, the latest technology and equipment available on modern yachts make cruising life easier, safer and more comfortable. But, seamanship remains an absolute requirement, of course.
NS: What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
IS: All aspects of it are pretty cool, really. The idea of traveling around using the wind is exciting. Discovering new places, new people, new cultures is exciting. Especially when these places are preserved and stunning. Cruising allows access to some of the last sanctuaries of our Planet. That is a unique proposition.
NS: What is something that you read or heard about cruising that you did not find true?
IS: I actually found the cruising literature pretty accurate. There are tons of good publications out there that are really helpful in preparing a cruising project.
NS: What is something that you read or heard about cruising that you find particularly accurate?
IS: “Just do it”. Most seasoned cruisers actually say this no the new comers. And that is very true. I would add that this is important to have your own project: do not try to exactly follow someone else’s footsteps. Having you own personal objectives and timeframe is essential for a successful project.
NS: Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
IS: I installed pretty much all I wanted on the boat before I started cruising. I could have out more solar panels. Not to state the obvious, ability to generate electricity (and water) is paramount for long term cruising projects. You never have enough. Redundancy is also important concept: having backups for all key equipment of the boat proves to be helpful if any failure happens at sea.
NS: What piece of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
IS: Any electric gear is typically more trouble than helpful. As such, air conditioning, electric toilet, electric gadgets are to be left behind. Simplicity is the secret of happy cruising.
NS: What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why ?
IS: Will move on to an entrepreneurial project. My cruising project was a both a lifetime experience and a transition to a new professional project. Life goes on. I may be cruising again once I retire. In the meantime, I will remember this lifetime experience until my last day. Unforgettable memories!
NS: Tell us about the genesis of the Inspiration Sailing cruising project?
IS: The project was born in late 2015. After 8 months of methodical preparation, I set sails on July 31, 2016 from South of France. The stated objective is to reach Australia in about 13 months (i.e. by August 31, 2017) following the well-known sailing routes across the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean, West Indies, Panama, and the Pacific Ocean.
The idea is to discover some of the most beautiful parts of the world, while getting the full benefits of the trade wind, the sea, the sun, the moon, the stars and the spectacle of marine life…and to share all of this with my crew members, as well as others via the project blog (www.inspirationsailing.com).
NS: Why did you decide to go cruising around the globe?
IS: I believe that in life there is a time to do things, a time to create, a time to produce, a time to be agitated, a time to be under pressure to perform and deliver results, a time for hard accomplishments. But, there is also a time to stop doing, to watch, to observe, to contemplate, to meditate, to take attitude, to appreciate simple things such as the lights, colors, shapes of nature and the surrounding scenery…
From this time “out of time” which I refer to as “empty” time, we have an opportunity analyze the World from a different angle, generate new ideas, prepare for new projects, learn new skills, get ready for new challenges, with a renewed perspective over our life.
As I am cruising around, new ideas and projects naturally come to my mind so that life after cruising is also taking shape as nautical miles go by. As such, this project is becoming a complete life experience.
NS: How did you prepare for this cruising trip?
IS: I thought about this project in great details, very much professionally, in fact pretty much as you would think of a startup business. All aspects have been analyzed thoroughly: choice of the boat and equipment, crew selection, cruising itinerary and timing, cost and budget, personal objectives, life post cruising, etc.
Sailing across oceans is a serious enterprise and by no mean, I wanted to jump into the unknown. I am not the type of person who goes at sea undercooked, so safety considerations were paramount. This is a wonderful challenge to complete a long term cruising project and be safe. This is also an absolute priority.
NS: Why did you call your cruising project “Inspiration”?
IS: The concept was to inspire the crew coming on board, as well as third parties following the trip. Quite a few people actually dream about such a trip, but are unable to do it for multiple reasons. I thought it was important to share this adventure with others, which is actually made easy by technology (should the Internet be available!)
At least one other person I know decided to buy his own boat and to prepare an ambitious family cruising project around the world following my footsteps. A film maker approached me, as he would like to spend time on the boat to film a story. The Newly Salted project initiated this interview…So Inspiration Sailing was not a bad name for the project after all.
I am pleased not only to realize a dream experience, but also to share it and to inspire to others the benefits of “empty” time. That should be mandatory for everyone at least once in a lifetime! Life is made of experiences and challenges. Preparing my cruising project and executing it proved to be both exciting and rewarding so far: clearly a tremendously fulfilling experience.
NS: Where do you currently stand in this project?
IS: Sailing Yacht Inspiration is currently anchored in Huahine, French Polynesia with about 16,000 nautical miles under its keel, including 2 ocean crossings, since the project started. I can say that we are approximately 75% of the way, but the good news is that the remainder of the trip across the Pacific is looking rather exciting!
Over the last 10 months or so, I validated a lot of the decisions made during project preparation. Yet I keep learning every day and both the crew and the boat still have a long way to go (over 3,000 nautical miles left). So the adventure continues and I feel that the best part of the trip is yet to come.
As of the time of this interview the project running on time and budget. But I have to say that the overall experience has been well beyond expectations, which I could not know in advance!
IS: What did you learn along the way during your cruising time?
IS: Inherent with these types of projects, you will be faced with unforeseen situations, new types of problems that are only specific to the life at seas. Take it as an opportunity to improve your problem solving skills. There is always a solution, even though it may not be obvious at first sight.
One other aspect is expanding your knowledge to many different topics: from celestial navigation to weather patterns and forecasting, from ocean wildlife to geology… I learned that cruising around the world is pure luxury: luxury of a certain form of freedom.
Finally, crossing oceans is a test for your level of preparation. You can only rely on yourself and your own decisions out there. You need to be 100% autonomous for a few weeks in row, far away from the land. You cannot cheat, you cannot lie, but you can only learn about yourself.