I don’t think at any point in the planning process was a circumnavigation not the idea. I’m not sure it was even discussed. In the purchasing stage, the refurbishment stage, and the itinerary stage, it was just implicit that Blue Eye would be going west and not stop until she’d gone 360°.
We could have decided to do a North Atlantic circuit, or just sailed down to cruise in the Med for a season. We might have even opted for chillier climates and sailed around the British Isles, perhaps with a diversion to Scandinavia or even Iceland. But going around the world just seems the condition of investing so much time and effort into a boat. Plus we’d like to find some sun.
A significant motivation for us is certainly the escape – or, at least, the delaying – of the daily grind. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, if it was our schooling, or if we’re just downright renegades, but the 9-5, Monday to Friday, city, corporate, business, whatever life is something we’d rather shove two fingers up to right now. Sure, we’ll come home significantly poorer than our friends but we intend on these being some of the richest years of our lives in all other senses.
Travel and adventure, of course, can be found through many different mediums, a lot of which are a damn sight easier than sailing, maintaining and funding a boat. Indeed, in the past we came up with all sorts of travel ideas with various friends, including grand plans of Southeast Asia and South America, but they never really bit. They would no doubt be fun and eye-opening, but what would distinguish it as travelling rather than an extended holiday? It’s a boundary that seems to have been blurred as the gap year has become a right of passage amongst our generation, and one that we don’t want to fall into the haze of.
In our minds, taking our home with us defines us as travellers. The plan, of course, is to enjoy ourselves as much as possible as if we were on holiday, but the principles of the trip are anchored deeper. We intend to live green, open-minded, and to make a positive contribution.
On the green count, then, we are to a large extent self-sufficient. With sails for fuel, the sun and wind for power and the rain for water, we can drastically reduce our carbon footprint living aboard Blue Eye. Yes, we have a diesel engine that will need running and a small Seagull outboard that is by no means environmentally friendly unfortunately, but no longer will we be spending hours a week driving cars or contributing to the heavy CO2 emissions of aircraft by flying to all the places we want to see.
Open-mindedness is not a pre-requisite of the Caribbean jet-setter, who can indulge in one of the many luxurious resorts bordered off from the perceived dangers and lower standards of the rest of an island. They can enjoy sunshine, vast swimming pools and all-inclusive American cuisine without having to align themselves to any local traditions or practices. They might spend an entire fortnight in a country and never see it, aside from the guided excursion they took to a tourist attraction where every ‘traveller’ and their dog were taking selfies.
When we enter a new port, we deal with a local marina employee, find out where the locals go and make sure we see it. Our first lesson in Camaret, France, was to avoid the seafront restaurants and bars which were packed with tourists, and to head into the backstreets where we found a delightfully quaint square with a café, outside which local people gathered for the evening to play music. France is hardly a distinct country from Britain in this brave new globalised world, but it taught us that even just over the English Channel culture is not dead. The mantra of open-mindedness, then, is to go off the beaten track and do as the locals do. At least, that’s how we justified sitting at this particular French bar that evening.
To make a positive contribution, lastly, is a nice vague principle that we all like to think we live by. A specific opportunity we are looking to exploit throughout our travels though, is to contribute to maritime research. Amongst all the other preparations it has fallen slightly down the list of priorities, but in the very near future we will be supporting a variety of organisations that ask for data on plankton levels, for the collection of water samples, and for recorded sightings of maritime life. Keep an eye on our website for a page on the details of these organisations.
We realise that, at the end of the day, sailing around the world is something you have to justify to very few people. The words themselves are poetic enough to have most eyes glaze over at the thought of sunny anchorages and warm breezes (it isn’t all like that by the way!). For us the chance to marry our passion of sailing with our aspirations to travel the world was more than enough to get us going. But during those planning stages we realised the implications of doing something that very few do, and the opportunities that were open to us because of that. And so, in a bid of enrichment, we hope to make the most of everything.