Lying on deck under the stars in a remote anchorage, while a warm and balmy breeze kisses your skin and the sea gently cradles you, in the knowledge that you can up anchor and roam the seas whenever the fancy takes you, is surely the greatest expression of freedom.
Unless you are anchored in Scotland in August where the breeze is more of a gale and far from balmy. And should the breeze drop you will be coated in a sticky black mess of midges. That is, if you are ever warm enough to take off your hat and gloves and your full foul weather gear.
Or perhaps you are far from any anchorage.
In fact, you are living aboard your boat in temperatures of 40 degrees while she is hauled out in a marina yard in St Lucia for repairs. You try not to use the heads – that’s the toilets, on a boat – because you can only open the valve and empty the holding tanks at the dead of night. This is a two-man operation: one of you controls the valve under the bathroom sink inside the boat and the other holds the bucket firmly on their shoulder below the outlet in the hull. You communicate with a knock on the hull when the bucket is full…and hope your partner hears it: the valve must be closed if you don’t want to be doused in the contents of your toilet.
Your access to land (and the marina yard wash room) is via a 12 foot long ladder precariously lashed to the guard rail with a piece of rope that is daily unravelling. And you begin to remember the Scottish midges almost with affection: Caribbean mosquitoes are amongst the most voracious in the world.
I have spent a lot of time on boats and in all of the above situations.
I love sailing and all things nautical and I have been privileged enough to live on board for the last few years. Sailing boats, motor boats; little ones, big ones. That I am still on board probably tells you that the freedom of voyaging far outweighs the inconveniences of climate and repairs.