Yachting Away from Ourselves: A Voyage to Inner Peace

Yachting Away from Ourselves: A Voyage to Inner Peace

A reflection on how sailing can lead to self-discovery, exploring liberation and inner growth.

Spring is fast approaching in the Mediterranean area, and yachting is awakening after its winter slumber. Fortunate yacht owners are finishing up their winter maintenance and refitting, readying to navigate their floating playcraft out of the harbour, whilst others are beginning to contact boat chartering agencies and plan their summer voyages. Then there are enthusiasts like myself — deeply passionate — that have never stoppedsailing and racing throughout the winter.

We all know that yachting is a metaphor for life, which, like life, includes its share of contrasts, discussions, and disputes. We've experienced the bitter tase of arguments aboard a boat, and we all know there are valid reasons to avoid them. Although these reasons might seem obvious and perhaps needless to mention, let’s explore them to reinforce our understanding.  

Author’s bio:

Renzo Crovo, an Italian architect and avid sailing enthusiast since his teenage years, has extensive experience racing dinghies (420, 470 & Strale) and later on IOR and ORC cabin cruisers. Currently, he not only navigates for transfers and cruises but also competes in regattas in the IRC and ORC classes throughout the Mediterranean.

A training in tolerance

Firstly, we must consider the confined space on a boat, which can make it difficult for people aboard to avoid physical contact during an argument, potentially escalating tensions. On the other hand, the boat can serve as an effective school for tolerance: if you don't get along with your crew mate, there’s no avoiding them — three minutes later, they're back in front of you again, so you might as well learn peaceful coexistence. Boats, especially at sea, can offer a sense of isolation. This isolation can intensify emotions during an argument because there's no opportunity to "step out for fresh air" as there might be in other contexts.

Additionally, and this is a point that encompasses them all, we must take into account onboard safety. Boats are subject to risks and dangers that could be exacerbated by an argument. For example, arguing while sailing or while docking could distract the crew and increase the risk of accidents such as collisions or shipwrecks.

Orange life jacket is a safety device hanging on a steel railings on a large tour boat.

There's also the aspect of mutual dependence created by navigation: especially on larger boats or during long voyages, the crew relies on each other for safety and the functioning of the boat. This mutual dependence should discourage arguments because it is in everyone's interest to maintain a cooperative and peaceful working environment.

In summary, arguing on a boat is always wrong due to the limitations of space, the sense of isolation, the associated risks, and the need for cooperation and safety during navigation.

Everyone in agreement? I'd wager yes.

Besides these points, there are aspects that interest me even more, particularly how yachting allows each of us, in some way, to take a vacation from ourselves.

Navigation is an absolute moment, serving as a catalyst to transform what at times may seem like a prison into an opportunity for growth. On a boat, we can't escape from ourselves, and aside from the unlikely option of throwing the other person overboard, all that's left is the necessity to understand and placing the problem in the bigger picture.

The boat as an "elsewhere"

The boat is a very particular microcosm; it's an elsewhere with its own rules, where our "terrestrial self" should avoid embarking, and where we have the opportunity to build and connect with a "sea self" essentially made up of who we are and what we know how to do aboard.

On board, we become what the sea demands, stripped of adornments; the rest should remain ashore. On a yacht, apart from the captain and the owner, there is no other hierarchy; there is solidarity, empathy, and a spirit of collaboration. There is no deference; our credentials and worth are written anew each day while sailing; at sea, what matters is our attitude to navigation. That’s all.

Personally, when I'm on a boat, I observe my crewmates and I realize — as far as I know them — they are different from their land-bound selves. I believe this is something that affects all sailors with a few miles under their belts and what I observe is the gradual liberation of that "terrestrial self" by all of us. As the days go by, the more this liberation becomes apparent.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Going on a cruise with a crew full of newbies? Read on for 7 things you need to tell your crew as a captain, because these things may already seem obvious to you but aren't to them.

Happiness and relax concept for traveler people - man legs point of view on a wooden sail boat with sun and blue ocean around.

A bridge between us and nature

And it is precisely in this wonderful vacation from ourselves that the essence of sailing lies: a precious opportunity to explore ourselves within.

For many, the boat represents a sanctuary of tranquillity, an island of peace far from the pressures of everyday life. It's a place where time seems to slow down, where the sound of the waves and the wind in the sails cradle thoughts in a gentle embrace. But there is more to a boating vacation than simple relaxation and recreation. For many, sailing means taking an opportunity for deep reflection and inner renewal.

It's a moment of escape from the routine, moving away from our daily lives, far from the frenzy of the cities, finding ourselves in an environment that invites calm and contemplation. The daily routine, with its incessant demands and social commitments, can stifle our authenticity and prevent us from truly connecting with ourselves. On a boat, we distance ourselves from all of this, free our minds, and find space to explore our inner selves. It's a time for slow, unhurried travel that allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the experience. Navigation cannot have a rigid agenda and provides an opportunity to wander, observe, and absorb the environment around us.

YACHTING.COM TIP: A popular way to achieve calmness of body and mind is yoga. You can even combine it with sailing. We have the best yoga exercises for you to practice on your boat.

A woman's hand touching the ocean water before a beautiful sunset during the summer season.

Sailing helps us reconnect with nature. Life on board a boat highlights the intimate connection between humans and nature. Sailing in open seas allows us to experience the wild and imposing beauty of the natural world. This direct contact with the elements — water, wind, sun — awakens the senses and reignites that flame of wonder and amazement that often fades in the daily routine. In this natural environment, we are forced to slow down and adapt to the rhythms of nature, thus opening the door to greater self-awareness and awareness of the world around us.

The sea allows us to embrace unpredictability and seek experiences that take us out of our comfort zone. It lets us be guided by curiosity and be surprised by what we encounter along the way.

By opening the door to reflection and self-awareness, the boat offers a unique space for self-inquiry. Away from distractions and external pressures, we are free to explore the recesses of our minds and hearts. In this silence, we can listen to the inner voices that are often drowned out by the noise of modern life. What emerges is greater clarity about who we really are, what makes us happy, and what our true aspirations in life are.

This means granting yourself the time and space necessary to reconnect with your authenticity and rediscover your sense of purpose and meaning. It allows us to practice mindfulness by dedicating time each day to meditation, contemplation, or journal writing.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Apart from getting away from everyday situations and rediscovering yourself, sailing brings many other benefits. Read 7 reasons to fall in love with sailing.

Woman enjoying a colorful sunset on a sailboat yacht sailing in the sea.

Taking a vacation from yourself

Last but not least is the liberation from social roles. In society, we are often defined by the roles we play: parents, professionals, friends, partners. These roles can become cages that imprison us, preventing us from freely expressing who we truly are beyond others' expectations. On a boat, all social roles are set aside. It doesn't matter who you are in the outside world; what matters is your authenticity and your ability to adapt and navigate with the forces of nature. Freed from the constraints of social roles, space opens up to explore new parts of yourself, to embrace one's individuality, and to rediscover a sense of inner freedom.

And this lack of social titles is one of the turning points: on a boat, everyone is involved, all are equal. Everyone agrees to do their part with humility and serenity; consistency will not be built through academic titles or societal status.

A well-executed mooring, a neatly folded sail at the end of the day, and a tidy deck will all contribute to the shaping of a "sailor self", replacing the many "superfluous selves".

YACHTING.COM TIP: In addition to sailing, hiking is also a great opportunity to connect with yourself, take time to think or just be. In the article From the beach to the mountains: combining sailing and hiking, you'll find tips on ideal places to hike from your boat. 

We are involved to varying degrees in the sailing (there is the experienced navigator, the proficient sailor, and the beginner eager to learn), and everyone, without exception, plays a part in managing the boat. Shifts are respected, and chores are performed because we know it is right to do so.

Even children (who absorb like sponges and often display intelligence beyond ours) are given small tasks that make them responsible and attentive. They will be involved in boat manoeuvres, encouraged to look around and immerse themselves in the elements that surround them.

Young father with adorable daughters resting on a big boat.

The boat represents balance, and like all balances, it must be achieved with the contribution of all, each according to their capacity, without shortcuts or embellishments.

Taking a vacation from oneself and from social roles is an act of self-compassion and authenticity. On a boat, we are free to be who we truly are, without masks or pretences. It is an opportunity to reconnect with our deepest essence, to explore the boundaries of our inner self, and to embrace the freedom of true self-expression. In this space of reflection and rebirth, we find the courage to accept our uniqueness and to navigate towards new horizons of authenticity and personal fulfilment.

It's worth it.

Would you also like to get to know more of yourself? I will be happy to help you choose the right boat for you. Do not hesitate to contact me.