Our 10th anniversary was approaching quickly, and we wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion.
We had heard about the beauty of Lucerne, Switzerland from other travelers and decided that it would be the perfect backdrop for a memorable celebration. When we saw that sailing lessons were available, the whole trip suddenly came together.
We had been talking about the possibility of living on a sailboat at some point as a way to enhance our nomadic lifestyle.
We also knew that it would not be as simple as hopping on a boat and sailing off into the sunset. Nature can be brutal, and you can’t expect the ocean to cooperate with an inexperienced sailor. So, we figured that the first step for us would be to take a sailing lesson and see if a sailing lifestyle would be something that could work for us.
Lake Lucerne is calm and it seemed like a logical place for an easy first lesson.
Learning to sail is not something that can be learned quickly, and we wanted to start as simple as possible. We found an instructor named Andi who gave lessons at Lucerne Bay. His schedule was flexible enough to work with
It was a beautiful day in the most gorgeous of settings when we met up with Andi and set sail on our first lesson.
We appreciated the fact that he wanted us to be very hands on. He handled the most difficult of tasks, probably because he didn’t want a couple of newbies sinking his boat, but overall he had us do everything. Experience is the best teacher and he was great about giving us instructions while we went through the mechanics of sailing around the lake.
We took turns with all of the aspects involved with sailing the Surprise Cruiser.
Andi had me focus on the steering and keeping the sails catching the wind while Mimi did most of the work with the jib sail. The most challenging aspect that we learned was about tacking which is a method of sailing into the wind. The trick is to zig-zag back and forth to catch the wind at an angle since sailing directly into the wind would be impossible.
Sailing with the wind is fairly straightforward. But what happens when you want to go back to the dock and the wind isn’t blowing in that direction?
Imagine only being able to go in one direction and having to wait until the wind changed to a new direction that you wanted to go in. You could be there for days waiting for the weather to cooperate. That’s why learning to tack was important. Taking a lesson from an experienced sailor answered questions that we didn’t even know enough to ask before we started.
We learned a lot that day, but it also made us realize how much more we still had to learn if this was going to be something that we could commit to as a lifestyle.
Sailing is a much different experience depending on the conditions you’re sailing in. The water in Lake Lucerne was clear and calm. That made it easier for us to focus on learning the basics without the added challenges that sailing on the ocean could bring. Learning to navigate is a whole other skill in itself and one that we would also have to learn. The only way to get good at it is to sail as much as possible and gain that firsthand knowledge in a variety of different conditions. With our love of the ocean, that is a challenge that we welcome.
Andi was a great teacher and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting. The sun was shining, and the mountains framed the backdrop for some of the most gorgeous scenery we could imagine. On a day as perfect as that, it was easy to see how people could fall in love with the sailing lifestyle. We still haven’t ruled out the possibility of sailing away one day, but we now know that we will need many more lessons and practice.