Living aboard has become increasingly popular in recent years. More people have the personal wealth to own a boat as a second home. Some sell up to finance the venture. Others build their own. The one thing that they all seem to have in common is a desire to leave the rat race and who can blame them. I met a mature couple in Isle of Man who were on their second circumnavigation. Whenever you enter a harbour or marina for the first time you meet new people and exchange news views and tales of daring do. Occasionally you meet people that you know. (I have met a couple from Heswall three times in the Isle of Man, on a station platform in Redon and in a marina at Port Haliguen) Certain routes are busy with traffic. The Canal Du Midi from Bordeaux through to the Mediterranean has become a very popular route since a book was written describing it in detail. The goal for many live aboard cruisers is the med. The canal route is two thousand miles shorter than sailing round the Iberian Peninsula. Yacht delivery skippers always sail round because it is quicker. This is because of the locking system within the canal. For cruisers time is not the issue. It is the journey not the arriving. To travel at your own pace along your chosen route is a very satisfying lifestyle. Another busy route is the Atlantic Regatta crossing from Las Palmas in Canary Islands to Antigua in the West Indies. The Regatta is in its twenty fifth year. The origins of the regatta were to make the crossing safer for yachts and smaller ships by undertaking the crossing together. About one hundred fifty Yachts leave in November.
The smallest boat to cross the Atlantic on this route was Tom McNally from Liverpool In a three foot six converted wardrobe. He held the world record for about a month before it was broken by an American. Tom soon mounted a second attempt in an even smaller boat. Unfortunately he became caught in Spanish fishing nets when he tried to cut himself free the fishermen turned hostile. Tom called a mayday on the radio and gunboat of was sent from Gibraltar to rescue him. Tom is member of the West Cheshire Sailing Club and the only man I know that eats raw fish to save fuel.
There are many colourful characters sailing. We are maritime nation and our language is full of nautical expressions if catch my drift. It is in our nature to leave home to find new and interesting places. We are probably the laziest people in the world when it comes to learning other people languages. I decided to address this problem before I sailed to France. I bought a book called Living French from the Oxfam Shop in Birkenhead before I left the UK and it was buy one get one free and the only other book I could find was Ancient Wisdom Modern World by the Dalai Lama which I read instead of the Living French so my French language did not improve but I feel philosophical about it.