Sailing away

Oh I just can see myself – sitting on the deck with a glass of wine watching the crew winching up the sails. We have chugged away quite successfully from the port and now that there is a bit of a wind the Captain has decided we can go under sail. Actually even if there wasn’t any wind he would still put up the sails because that is one of the things that people like the most about being on a real sailing ship. When oh when can I do that again? You can just see the type of people that like this kind of cruise by scanning those up on deck with me. You can catch a glimpse of the odd nautical style, deck shoes and hats – the way some of the men critically inspect the way the sails are set. These people have their own sailing boats – albeit much smaller.

For those who have any kind of motion issue this probably is not going to be heaven for them. On my first sailing cruise I was tickled pink to see that the cabin crew had put up the sidings on the bed presumably in preparation for a heavy wind and to stop me from rolling out of bed. There is nothing quite so relaxing as being rocked to sleep – and indeed NOT falling out of bed.

Of course a cruise on one of these sailing ships is a very different experience from what you will have one one of the bigger “proper” cruise ships. The sailing type of ship does not have a whole lot of entertainment as such. The entertainment is more passenger and crew participation and you can either join in and be embarrassed for the rest of the cruise or just sit up at the bar and enjoy watching other people making fools of themselves. Either way you will have fun.

You also get the chance to steer the ship yourself. Oh the heady delight of standing at the wheel (with one of the officers carefully looking over your shoulder) while you imagine yourself setting out to discover a trading route to the Orient! If you hang around with your camera you are bound to get some good photos of the steering volunteer! Eyes narrowed, jaw tightened as he (it is usually the men) studies the horizon for signs of pirates or enemy galleons!

Then there is the day you get to climb up to the crow’s nest in all the proper harness. Remember you are doing this before a large crowd on the deck so go carefully and try not to make a fool of yourself. Once you get to the top you have to do it all over again to get back down – but the view is worth it. After you have done this you will really appreciate the crewman who climbs all the way up to the top with his heavy duty sewing kit to mend a sail. Now that’s a very old skill.

And for that perfect photo to post onto facebook and show everyone that you have the perfect life you can go right to the front of the ship and climb out over the bowsprit netting and lie gracefully over the bow waves like this –

How it is meant to be done

In fact once you get out there you will find that it is bloody difficult to walk on that netting so make sure you have trained your husband well so that he doesn’t take one of those sneaky shots of you in an awkward position. I have trained my husband so well now that he always takes my photo and then shows it to me so I can decide to keep or delete. In fact it is what he calls a “fat check”. Jeez!

So if you think that you have a little bit of sailing in your DNA – maybe a link to Christopher Colombus or even Popeye you might want to consider a sailing holiday. But don’t go overboard (sorry I couldn’t help but use this pun) and charter a small yacht – let someone else do the crewing, cooking, steering and entertaining and you can just pretend to be a sailor. It’s fun – I promise! Aye, aye Cap’n.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. We chartered a yacht in the south of France on our honeymoon & spent a week stopping at various ports for markets & dinner. We even spent a night on board at Monaco & did a little gambling. It was awesome.


  2. This looks so lovely Lesley! My husband can captain small charters …… so we’ve sailed the Desolation Sound area out of Comox on the west coast several times. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. Have always dreamed of sailing on one of these tho …… my only worry would be my husband would want to take over the wheel!! (;


    1. Oh my goodness Lea – chartering into Desolation Sound is my husband’s dream. We have been up to that area a couple of times and it is absolutely gorgeous! Yes your husband will definitely want to take the wheel!


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