New Year’s Sailing Resolutions

New Year's Sailing Resolutions - 12° West

New Year’s Sailing Resolutions

It’s a new year, that hopeful time when many people look ahead and set resolutions for the coming year. I’m not normally big on resolutions, but last year I set one simple goal: sail more. My thinking was that sailing more would increase my quality of life in multiple ways.

The Collins English Dictionary defines a New Year’s resolution as “a promise to yourself or decision to do something, especially to improve one’s behavior or lifestyle in some way, during the year ahead.” I’m happy to report that I achieved my goal of sailing more last year – and it did indeed improve both my behavior and lifestyle! So for this year, I’m doubling down on sailing resolutions.

While “sail more” is still an overarching goal, I decided to be a bit more intentional about this year’s sailing resolutions. For 2018, I’m focusing on four ways I can be a better sailor.

Become a more confident captain

A lot of my sailing experience comes from racing on J/24s, and I have a decent level of mastery on a small keelboat with an outboard. Last summer I spent several weekends on Long Island in a larger boat. It was loads of fun, but also made me realize that handling a larger boat with a diesel engine is a lot different than steering a J/24. So this year I want to focus on a couple of ways to be more confident on a bigger boat. The first is by getting better at docking. It’s not something I’ve had a lot of practice with, so my goal is to work on good docking techniques. Second is to brush up on my navigation skills and passage planning. Electronic navigation aids are great, but they can fail. This year I’ll pull out my parallel ruler and dividers and practice plotting a course manually. As they say, practice makes perfect.

New Year's Sailing Resolutions - 12° West

Goal for 2018: brush up on navigation skills.

Explore new horizons

It’s easy to get in the routine of sailing the same places over and over. I sail regularly in New York Harbor, which is never the same on any given day – but I’m comfortable there (as long as someone is keeping an eye out for the Staten Island Ferry!). One of my sailing resolutions this year is to sail in new places, because I learn more every time I venture out of my comfort zone. I will definitely explore more of the Long Island Sound and Gardiner’s Bay, and I’d like to get out on the Chesapeake Bay for the first time. And while I’ve sailed a lot outside the U.S., I haven’t been on a big sailing trip since the Australian Whitsundays in 2016. So it’s time for a new sailing adventure!

New Year's Sailing Resolutions - 12° West - Sailing the Whitsundays

Goal for 2018: sail somewhere new. In 2016 we sailed the Whitsunday Islands in Australia.

Pare down on plastics

New Year's Sailing Resolutions - 12° WestThe more time I spend on the water, the more I see the tragic effects of plastic pollution on our oceans. For 2018 I’m focused on 2 concrete things I can do to play my part in reducing plastic pollution. The first is to avoid single-use plastics when possible. The easiest way for me is do this is to carry my own water bottle and reusable bags. My go to products are a Hydro Flask bottle and Baggu reusable shopping bags. I’m also refusing plastic straws. Did you know that Americans dispose of 500 million plastic straws every day? Very few of these are actually used, and even fewer are recycled. Skipping the straw is a pretty low effort way to do my part to cut down on plastic pollution.

My second action is to commit to “take 3 for the sea.” Every time I’m on or near the water, I’ll collect at least 3 pieces of garbage and dispose of them properly. The inspiration came from conservation organization So simple – but if everyone did it, imagine what a difference it would make!

Share the love

Sailing has changed my life in so many positive ways, and I want to share that experience with more people. In 2018 I resolve to introduce more people to the sport – especially women. I love sailing with my regular crew, but this year I want to take out some people who are new to sailing. I hope they will experience some of the freedom and joy I find on the water. Even if only one person gets half as much enjoyment from it as I do, then the world will already be a better place.

New Year's Sailing Resolutions - 12° West

Goal for 2018: share the beauty of sailing with new people.

There you have it, my 2018 sailing resolutions. What’s on your horizon for this year?