An ocean but no boats…

An ocean but no boats…

High time to post something in the sailing section of the blog. After all, we’ve been living next to the Atlantic ocean for some four months now. One of the upsides of being posted to Dakar it seemed was its location inside the Atlantic ocean and the existence – according to Google – of several yacht clubs and marinas. Alas, after some exploration and discussion with expats here, only one of the clubs is still in existence, but reduced to its role as watering hole. No boats…

Yachting is very much an expat activity here, the Senegalese that have the means don’t seem to show much of an interest for this sport. Only fishermen have boats, sturdy, colorful “pirogues” that take them ever further out to sea to catch fish. The “Lebous” are the original inhabitants of Dakar’s Cap Vert peninsula, but their social standing is very low, and their lifestyle, going out in boats, is not something to be imitated if you can avoid it. At least that’s one explanatino I received for the lack of local interest in boating.

So we’re back to plotting plans on how to get onto a sailing yacht. The closest option seems to be the Cap Verde islands, some 300 nm offshore. Will have to look into that. And hopefully some Mediterranean adventure next year – need to find a spot that’s not overcrowded where actual sailing is possible (not just partying in a marina).

Meanwhile, we travel vicariously, thanks to Youtube essentially: German Yacht TV (mostly reviews of new boats), the guys at Boots Profis (find boats for aspiring sailors, mostly on a budget, and tell you what to look for), Tom Cunliffe’s Yachts & Yarns (very entertaining British spin on yachting), or travel blogs like Insieme. There are many, MANY more…

Also, much speculation is ongoing about what caracteristics our future boat should have: hull material (currently favouring aluminium), keel (shape, do we want to fall dry sometimes?), rudders (single rudder with protective skeg favoured), size (don’t want to constantly bang our heads, need room for longer trips, needs to be handled by two), rigging, types of energy, amenities etc etc. Since many of the criteria are mutually exclusive, compromises need to be found… Hopefully going out on more different types of boats will help finetune all of this. Unfortunately, most charter companies don’t have the kinds of boats we would like to try out. They’re now all of the broad, double-ruddered fast but unstable sort…

That leaves us with what some call “boat porn”: websites such as boot24.com or yachtworld.com where you can endlessly browse boats for sale all over the world and let the mind wander…

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