Most everyone thinking of sailing to Patagonia has heard of Skip Novak. His high-latitude expeditions are well known, and well thought of. Yesterday I came across a link to a Yachting World article written by Mr. Novak where he describes his expedition yachts as being “well-used.” I could see how the article could have a lot of truth to it, and it prompted me to share my thoughts on the subject.
Since Rebecca and I first looked at the Amel which would ultimately become our new home and vehicle, we not only saw a vessel that was capable of taking us to Patagonia safely, but one that we could live in comfortably. We didn’t have blinders on though. We could see that the 32-year old boat wasn’t perfect, and for a serious expedition as we had hoped to complete, we’d have to upgrade a number of significant things, the standing rigging being just one such example. Presently, with limited funds and time, we have chosen to focus our efforts on all of the essential boat systems, rather than on cosmetics. That’s not to say that we aren’t doing everything that we can to make the boat look good too. In fact, as we were polishing the exterior stainless the other day, a friend of ours who happened by commented that we were making him look bad due to our efforts. There are limits though.
Yesterday, as we were waiting for the paint to dry in the forward lockers so that we could add a second coat of paint, our friend Ken questioned why we’d even bother, the location being subject to such hard use, and not open to the scrutiny of passers by. It’s just the way I am though. My thinking is that when it’s easy and relatively cheap to make something look good, why not do it (note this is why ZTC and the Leopard that we crewed on always looked so good)? I can see how Skip’s comments in the article have a ring of truth though, that, without a full-time maintenance crew, keeping a yacht in bristol condition could be an exercise in futility when actually used for its intended purpose in tough conditions. I guess we’ll just have to find a balance that we’re comfortable with.