You Can, Too

Even the most unlikely cruiser has enough will to become a cruiser. From the "Editor's Log" in our August 2008 issue

John Burnham 368

When I think about Adam Oyebanji, I recall a frigid day last winter and a pair of red suspenders, not the T-shirted sailor whom CW had encouraged to take the plunge last year as a first-time charterer in the British Virgin Islands. The subzero day occurred in Chicago, where I met Adam for lunch during the 2008
Strictly Sail show. We'd initially crossed paths when he sent us a story about his first daysail on Lake Michigan; he described himself as an "unambitious landlubber." ("Three Folks on a Boat" Underway , April 2007) In fact, Adam's life afloat began as a naval cadet in high school in the United Kingdom, and he later joined the Chicago Sailing Club. He was as self-deprecating in person as he is in print, but over warming bowls of soup, I realized he'd also acquired a measure of self-confidence.

At lunch, the more involved Adam became with reliving his B.V.I. charter, the more he threw himself into reminiscing. He showed me stacks of snapshots of his crew. While he reached for each picture, his red suspenders kept peeking out from his vest, normal attire for an attorney whose work is commercial litigation involving both domestic and international disputes.

For Adam, chartering has opened up new sailing grounds. It started with a fractional share in a Hunter that took him across state lines. Next, it was the Caribbean's British Virgin Islands, with its line-of-sight navigation, steady trade winds, moorings in sound condition, sophisticated provisioning, and plenty of entertainment ashore. And though their paths haven't crossed, surely Adam can relate to the new territory explored by Joanne and Steve Palmisano, Vermonters who took a chance that their daughter, Gabrielle, would like chartering in the Virgins-and were right.

Where will Adam and crew and others like the Palmisanos head next?
At some point, maybe, Belize.

Like his fellow sailors, Al Plaskett grew fond of the B.V.I. during several charters. Al's goal is to head offshore, and he realized it was time to kick the chartering experience up a notch. I met him in Belize, the home of the longest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere, unmarked channels, and low, even vegetation, all of which demand special focus from sailors in the country's western Caribbean waters.

Al admitted that the waters were rougher, but he enjoyed the challenge and had decided that he'd switch to a catamaran on the next go-round. He asked what had brought me to this alluring cruising ground. Busted again! Belize is the latest destination in my dossier as chartering editor for Cruising World. With me were colleagues and CW editors at large Angus Phillips and Herb McCormick, who wanted to take on Belize's shallow-water sailing aboard a cat while squeezing in some game-fishing and scuba diving. (Stay tuned for the story in an upcoming issue.)

CW senior editor and native New Englander Mark Pillsbury is a bit of a masochist-he endures winter on the docks as a liveaboard, and in the summer, he's been known to take his family on a cruise aboard his Sabre 34 to foggy Maine. Last July, he was up for a change of pace and headed to the Pacific Northwest, where the tides are bigger, you dodge deadheads instead of lobster pots, and the customs officials can keep life interesting. Mark and his East Coast crew grew fond of North America's most popular chartering grounds, in part thanks to Mount Baker, which became their constant sentinel.

To plan your first charter or your 15th, in familiar or new cruising areas, turn to page 60 for CW's annual "Charter Address Book," an updated listing of nearly 200 companies and brokers. (click here) You can also log on to CW's online how-to-charter resources (click here). And if you have any doubts, just remember: If Adam and Al and Angus and Mark can do it, so can you.

Elaine Lembo, Managing Editor