The beauty of solo sailing

“You are going alone? Really? For three months???”

When I announced to friends and family that I was leaving for Polynesia again, almost everyone gave the usual sigh followed by an equally usual “Lucky you….” Immediately afterwards came the comments about me leaving on my own.

“But won’t you be bored? Aren’t you afraid? What if something happens to you?”

Those who know me well did not bat an eye, knowing that I have always liked to travel alone.

My first solo trip was not my choice-I simply had not found anyone who wanted or could take a trip to Cuba for a couple of weeks in February. And thank goodness! That first overseas trip of mine was a very important milestone in my life. I really learned a lot. Traveling alone forces us out of our comfort zone, which in itself is something positive. Once we leave, we are forced to bond with perfect strangers, both locals and other travelers, people who often teach us something and whom we probably would not have met had we traveled in company. And most importantly, we are forced to take all the decisions and solve all the troubles on our own. I am convinced that everyone should try it at least once in their lives. Traveling alone allows us to learn more about the world around us, but most of all it is a wonderful adventure of self-discovery.

Alone in Malaysia, November 2009

Traveling by boat is not much different. Sailing with friends is a lot of fun, and for many that is what sailing is all about. In the summer I usually have the boat full of people: sailing trips with girlfriends, cruises to Croatia, sailing and cruising courses, countless aperitifs and dinners on board – in short, the boat is often full of life from morning to night. This is who I am, I love to share my passion for sailing with others. When I then look at people as they disembark and realize that I have managed to make them fall in love with this world in just two days, when I have the honor of taking them on their first night sailing, or when I see their eyes staring at the big waves behind the stern with a mix of fear and joy, then I feel truly honored to be able to offer them an experience that they will hardly forget.

A week of adventures and laughter between Lošinj and Trieste
sailing courses
One of many courses for beginners

Every now and then, however, I feel like having the sea to myself, to set sail alone. The silence and solitude create an intimacy with the sea that in company simply cannot be replicated. After such a summer in 2021 I felt the need for some alone time with the big blue.

I had just returned from my last cruise when I got a call from a friend.

“I have to go back to Europe for three months. Do you feel like coming to the Tuamotu and taking care of my boat until I get back?” What a question.

The next day I bought my flight and two weeks later I left for the South Pacific. As soon as I recovered from the jet-lag, I hauled anchor, hoisted the sails and pointed the bow south. Destination Hirifa, one of the most beautiful bays in the Pacific.

sea polynesia

It had been two years since I had singlehanded that boat, so I left with some uncertainty and fear, emotions that forced me to be well focused. After all, if you are sailing solo on a 56-footer in an atoll, extreme caution is a must. Aside from all the usual precautions solo sailors need to take, I also had to have my eyes fixed on the bow so as not to risk crashing into some uncharted coral head.

I was extremely focused, but my heart was full of joy. Every now and then I would take a moment to enjoy the beauty around me and fill my lungs with ocean air. But most of all I was enjoying the great satisfaction that comes from sailing solo. The absence of other crew members to blame forces us to take complete responsibility for all decisions and mistakes. We must face our limitations and weaknesses and bring out all the skills and strength we need to get there.

When everything goes wrong, it is hard. I often get angry with myself, with the boat, sometimes I even cry.

But when all goes well, when the trade winds fill the sails and the calm sea of the lagoon shimmers around me, then sailing becomes pure joy. Yesterday’s sailing filled me with lightness, with joy, with a beautiful sense of total freedom.

Traveling alone is a beautiful experience, but sailing alone is even better.

Hirifa is even more beautiful than I remembered. I may just live here forever.