Adapting plans and being flexible

One of the many lessons to learn from the horrors of the Covid-19 pandemic is that event the best laid plans might have to change, sometimes at short notice. That should be obvious for cruising sailors who have always had to adapt their plans according to the weather. However, much of the time our behaviour shows a remarkable resistance to changing our ideas and our plans.

Right back to the process of choosing Vida we have been adapting and re-adapting our plans. For decades we have dreamed of one day building our own Catamaran. Then suddenly, triggered by a pension reminder, we started thinking differently about our longer term future, the idea of starting to prepare to live on a boat for retirement came. Then the sudden shift from catamarans because we couldn’t afford the time to build and realised there was a wide choice of older monohulls available at orders of magnitude lower prices. Then we saw Vida, almost by accident as she was larger and more expensive than we had been looking at, yet when we saw her we realised exactly what we needed.

Within the refit we have already adapted our plans many times, some examples are:

  • Deciding that we would switch to an electric motor before launching as fixing the fuel system to be safe and reliable was going to be such a big and expensive job.
  • Deciding to switch to synthetic rigging before spending money on the existing rigging
  • Discovering the cracks around one chainplate and the problems that so many others have with chainplates and so switching to creating our own synthetic ones (and now on another redesign of them)
  • Adjusting our aim of zero fossil fuels to be looking at a Refleks Diesel heater (the influence of Brexit on preventing wintering in warmer parts of the EU being a key factor)
  • Now looking at a Cape Horn Vane self-steering instead of Hydrovane – in part due to reduced constraints on Solar panel positioning.
  • Planning to move from 12 volt house battery bank to 48 volt.

As we prepare to get back to work I am sure there are going to be more changes to come. Technology keeps changing, the impact of the Climate Emergency on cruising is going to grow and grow, our understanding of issues such as microplastics is changing.

Part of our goal here is to be open about the need to reflect and think through our decisions, especially the impact they have on others. Unfortunately, we see a common tendency to focus selfishly on what is most comfortable for ourselves, that has a huge impact on others. We see that in a frequent unwillingness to “compromise” on luxury or “convenience” despite the impact on others. We also see it when people take advantage of loopholes in rules designed to limit the pandemic – particularly around travel and wanting to claim special treatment for ourselves.

We continue to believe that working through plans and being eager to make changes so that they are more sustainable is worthwhile, satisfying and better for us all. We are not about punishing ourselves or being ascetics but we are about understanding our impact and working against privilege, inequality and injustice.

So what are we going to find after not being able to visit Vida for 6 months? What changes are still to come? Is there any chance that I will get sensible about stretching to become a little more flexible physically to keep up with the flexibility of our plans?