Sailing Vacations Are The Answer If You Want to Discover True Freedom
Jane Cloughley is from Manchester in the UK and sailed in Greece recently on one of our yachts. She is featured in our recent #MoreWomenatSea video with friends, and found some time to explain how she got into sailing and what it means to her.
How did you get into sailing?
My husband and I were on a villa holiday in Kefalonia and every day we walked up and down the harbour admiring the yachts. There seemed to be a great camaraderie going on and people helping each other. We admired it. While walking up and down, we were invited to look at a yacht by a very nice gentleman and we went on board, had a look around and really liked it.
The following year, we decided to get out of our comfort zone and have a go. We booked a 27ft boat and it was our honeymoon. The skipper we booked on this sailing holiday was really focused on me more than my husband, as he knew he would have to work on me because I lacked confidence. I was really quite fearful of the sea and I didn’t even like swimming in the seaweed. It was because of him and the help he gave us that set us off on the beginning of our sailing journey.
What made you get your ICC licence and how did you do it?
To continue sailing, we knew we had to be qualified and to develop our sailing skills and knowledge. We studied for our exams at night school and got a babysitter for our young children every week. The practical we did in Wales and had to do it separately as one of us had to look after the children, including my one-year old baby. I was first and I was dreading it because I was on a boat with people I didn’t know. But actually, I had a great time and really felt liberated.
Where have you sailed around the world?
We’ve sailed in Turkey, various places in Greece and the British Virgin Islands. The best place sailing for us has to be Greece because of the mix of wonderful bays and anchorages. I particularly like the culture out there and the food.
Why is sailing so important to you?
We absolutely love it! Now it gives us the chance to give our friends the opportunity to experience sailing, which is a great thing to offer. Sailing allows us the chance to explore areas you wouldn’t do on a villa holiday. You can be in a different place every day if you choose and I absolutely love the freedom – it’s like a floating home. It’s so exhilarating and you learn, relax and laugh a lot. It’s great fun.
How have you grown your confidence at sailing?
When I started I had a fear of the deep sea. I really was not a very good swimmer and I lacked self-belief in being capable of handling a boat, particularly because you see a lot of men on the helm. Very rarely do you see a woman and that’s quite difficult to get over. I’ve gained confidence just by getting out there, having a go and learning by mistakes. There’s only so much you can learn out of a book, you just have to go and do it as it is very different when you are out at sea.
For me, gaining confidence is all about taking time about your manoeuvres, analysing the situation and, my top tip, not feeling under pressure by other people who are around you.
What is your sailing highlight?
My sailing highlight was coming into Göcek, Turkey, in a storm and we were on our own at the time. The harbour was packed with boats because all the other boats were coming into shelter. It was windy and rainy and the harbour had just one very tight space left. I knew if we didn’t get in that space it was our only chance of getting shelter.
In front of this space was a lot of tavernas full of locals and skippers watching the sailors come in. I bet they were all thinking about how a woman was going to bring this 34 ft boat into that space stern to with the choppy seas and rain. I was really nervous but I knew I had to do it. I nailed it perfectly and the locals all clapped and cheered! It was a real achievement and I really felt on top of the world at that moment.
You’ve recently been sailing the Greek Islands with Dream Yacht Charter, what did you think of it?
It was clear it was a very professional company right from the moment we arrived at base in Lavrion, Greece, with a really friendly and helpful team. Our yacht introduction was very thorough and it was clear they take great care of their yachts. It’s very important when you go sailing that you have a reliable backup when you are out at sea. We experienced that the team is excellent as a backup and very prompt at replying. I am looking forward to our next experience with Dream Yacht Charter.