When cruisers and sailors are asked why they choose this lifestyle, many answer with the standard and cliché “Because it gives us so much freedom”. True, your sailboat is your floating home and you can drop and pick up anchor in many places worldwide, giving you an immense area to explore or settle for a while. You have your belongings with you wherever you go and to “just be out there”, sailing on a massive ocean or smaller sea, gives you a tremendous feeling of freedom. Wherever you are, once the anchor is down, there are restrictions and rules you have to abide by. You can read up or learn about these places ahead of time and, because you are free, you decide whether to skip them or pay them a visit. Most things you do are entirely up to you, except when (boat) problems arise.
A grey day for a sail on the ocean © Liesbet Collaert
The sense of freedom disappears, however, when you take that one, all important thing into account; the thing that really decides when you leave and how the trip and the schedule turns out. It is called the weather and it is ever-present and not always very predictable. Every prudent sailor checks the weather forecast, via different sources at that, before heading out, especially on a longer trip. We base many decisions on how “it is looking” and pick days that promise to be comfortable enough, wind and swell taken into consideration. These periods are called “weather windows”. The amount of rain is less important, unless they are part of forecasted periods of heavy squalls.