The Log of Moira


The Best Cruising Advice I’ve Ever Gotten…


We belong to the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA), a mostly-unstructured group of those who have chosen to live on, and travel by, water. The Association publishes a Bulletin once a month, made up mostly of letters from members about their experiences in various destinations. In February, 2008 the Bulletin began a column called “Dreamer’s Prism” for those who are dreaming, or hoping, or planning, to move out among us. The February, 2009 edition of the column issued a challenge to existing members: “What is the best cruising advice you’ve ever gotten?” What follows is a revised version of my response:


Seven Seas Cruising Association Burgees


The best cruising advice I’ve ever gotten, hands down, was in the first chapter of W. S. Kals’ book, Practical Boating (Doubleday, 1969). He recounts it as the best advice he’d ever gotten, from an old freighter captain. As Kals puts it (I’m quoting from memory):


Have an alternate plan. In plain speech: leave yourself an out.


Figure out what you’re going to do when your plan goes wrong, because some day it will. Examples:



Always have a “Plan B.” And another one, and one after that. You’ll never get in serious trouble if you can always pull another rabbit out of the hat. So on long night watches, or while sitting before the fireplace in the winter months, “breed rabbits.”


“Having a plan,” of course, is more than having in mind the steps one would take. As in the examples above, it requires that one have the resources needed to carry out the plan. Hope is not a “Plan B.”



Kals’ book is long since out of print, but is available through used sellers such as Amazon.




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