Go small, go simple, go now!
-- Lynn and Larry Pardey
A PhD in Sailing
I once read that to get around in SE Alaska by power of wind requires a PhD in Sailing.
We learned most of what we know of sailing up here in SEAK, engine free... let's say from grade school to wherever it is we're at. So I'd have to disagree with the letter of that observation - after all, we prove that any fool can get around! - but not the spirit.
The disagree part is that, a PhD generally implies a formal education. Years of plodding in preparation to depart. In fact, I believe that the water and your boat is by far the best school. The sooner you get going - within reason - the sooner you will grasp the arts of the sailor.
Each day will present new problems and challenges, and the solutions you meet them with - the tools and skills - brands their knowledge into your being. That growing knowledge is uniquely yours, entangled in yarns of one's own.
But the spirit of it? Yes.
The water may be the best school, but it is a school of hard knocks. It can deal a lethal blow to those who approach it lightly. Even the professors emeriti can and sometimes do founder in a hard chance.
Take it upon yourself to get all you can from books in that armchair sailing phase. Books are laden with millennia of hard won experience, distilled and filtered. Sure... read of adventure, far horizons and narrow escape, but also of weather, tides, knots, charts and the theory of sails.
Collect a set of hand tools and build some stuff (a dinghy?). Cultivate mentors whose opinion you respect, then apply a pinch of salt from your own wisdom.
Go sailing, when you can, on other's boats or in very small craft. Many sailing programs teach the basics. Puddle Duck Racers can be built and sailed by most anyone, alone or with others. A DIY, live-aboard cruiser is really just more of the same.
Home school, and work toward knowledge. But don't let the lack of PhD stop you!
Go forth, start small and live large!
And now, a touch of Cutsie:
P is for Patience -- 'Tis truly said the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar. Doubly so for an engine-free sailboat. We await the Opportune Moment which arrives in its own due time. To push into conditions beyond your abilities is to court disaster. Rather, enjoy yourself in the moment at hand, until the moment to go arrives.
h is for Humblitude -- Be humble. Be very humble. Lest ye be humbled! Start small and work up. Look to your safety margins and fail-safes. Actively build your skills and knowledge. Humbly does it.
D is for Determination -- Kick yourself in the butt and go! Whatever your dream, pursue it. We've each got our One Precious Life, and the clock is ticking. Kids... you're not immortal. Fellow Old Farts... we're soon going to be out of road.
Go small, go simple, (go safe), go NOW!