Saturday, November 18, 2017

The rise of adventure yachting

I suppose it all started with yacht chartering. Being able to fly to the South Pacific and charter a yacht for a couple of weeks was adventurous at some point in time when it was first introduced. If you couldn't sail across oceans, you could at least explore the destinations.

Then came the advent of yacht racing tourism. The Clipper Around the World Yacht Race started by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston took what he did in the first race and made it available to every Tom, Dick and Sherry who wanted to sail around the world or parts of it. The skipper is a professional but the crews are often inexperienced in terms of blue water sailing. But here they are, checking it off the bucket list.

Then Skip Novak with Pelagic Expeditions started taking people to the Antarctic. The former Simon Le Bon's (Duran Duran) skipper and Whitbread Round the World Race master has two yachts based in Patagonia for high latitude adventure sailing. Skip is a remarkable seaman and is able to ensure his guests remain safe even in the most inhospitable conditions. His business by all accounts is booming. People book two years in advance. Ben and Roger Wallis are brokering expeditions at opposite ends of the earth -- one in the Arctic and other in the Antarctic.  The Reverend Bob Shepton has been taking young people to do first ascents for years.

So what is going on here? Why are people risking everything to tick adventure off the bucket list so avidly? Adventure tourism is a niche in travel tourism involving exploration or travel with a certain degree of risk and which may require special skills and physical exertion. It may include activities such as mountaineering, trekking, mountain biking, canoeing, scuba diving, rafting, kayaking,  paragliding, hiking, exploring, kiteboarding, caving, rock climbing and now sailing.

Is it because our lives are so boring in real life and on social media that we crave a bit of risk to feel alive? Corporations jumped on the bandwagon for team building. Now even stag and hen parties seek adventure before their lives become routine. It's a little tragic.

People used to work towards sailing off, spending years developing their skills and topping up their cruising kitties to find adventure on their own, and many still do. Now, there’s  a growing number of boat owners and sailing enthusiasts who recognize that buying an adventure sailing package offers opportunities that are almost impossible for most boat owners to achieve in their own vessels, however experienced they might be and however well prepared their boats. Kraken Travel even puts together packages for adventurers.

Given that setting up your boat for expedition cruising and sailing from your home cruising grounds to an adventure destination could take many months, it’s easy to see the appeal of flying directly to the location and then joining a boat that’s already set up for that kind of sailing with a skipper and crew that are highly familiar with the area, including the most visually appealing places to visit and the best anchorages in bad weather. Of course, sailing on a schedule is never a great idea, but sailing with people who have been there and done that a lot can be very educational and reassuring.

What's troublesome and may result in restrictions to yachting in polar regions is that people are arriving to transit the Northwest Passage in ridiculously unsafe boats. It's not up to me to criticize but up to the authorities to decide who gets to go without putting other's lives at risk.

It's a do it now or die wondering approach. Frankly, I'm not one to put myself into cold and hardship of that degree of magnitude. I have crossed the Atlantic on my own boat three times with only my husband and cat as crew. One trip across the North Atlantic brought a heavy dose of heavy weather. It was life changing, but do I need to go to the farthest reaches? Nah. I know that what I've done I've done on me own.

Yachting News Update on Adventure Sailing

No comments:

Post a Comment