How do we furl this headsail in?

riley-sleepingI called Lucas:

 Me: ‘Hey mate, you know how I was gonna buy that Yacht?’

Lucas: ‘Yeah?’

Me: ‘I got it.’

Lucas: ‘Oh, shit … Wow that’s Awesome mate.’

Me: ‘Your gonna have to fly over to Italy and help me learn to sail it’.

It did take a bit of convincing him, but  a month later we were sampling local beers and wines in Monopoli and organising the last of the paperwork.

I had enlisted a ‘pilot’ to help me learn to sail on the trip from Monopoli over to Split (Croatia) but due to a translation error he booked another charter a day later assuming we wanted to use the engine and get there as quickly as possible.

So Lucas and I would be left alone in Split to fend for ourselves. We went out on the town and decided to head out the next day.

Que Wind

It was the worst conditions we experienced on that particular trip, certainly not out of control looking back but well out of our skill level at the time.

riley-climbingmast1Once we managed to unfurl the headsail we realised neither of us knew how to roll it back in again.

Nagging doubts soon came to the fore during this first sail, saying repeatedly to myself: “You’ve bitten off more than you can chew, Riley” … ‘If that sail shreds you can’t even afford a new one, Riley”… “Should have learned first then got the boat Riley!” … “Are you really cut out for this, Riley?”

To be perfectly honest I was scared.

Not for my safety (although that was another doubt pinging around in my anxiety-riddled brain) …  but scared about having made a mistake of colossal proportion.

Not being the owner of the boat, Lucas seemed a lot less concerned  as I’m pretty sure he suggested we get pissed drunk and have another crack tomorrow.

We got the sail in eventually but the noise of it smashing around was extremely unnerving as I had no idea how much was normal. We turned the engine on and motored back into Split for another night out.

A truly horrible feeling to have those thoughts spinning around that evening and it wasn’t until the next day we went out and the weather gods were kinder to us that I could finally begin to relax.

We belted straight over to Croatia was because three couples who are some of my closest friends were doing a “Sail Croatia” and Lucas and I were going to tag along behind them.

I had told them to cancel and that I would take them myself on my boat but they told me it was apparently “too late to cancel”.

I think they weren’t 100% on my Sailing abilities just yet.

Good move.


Learning On The Fly

For those of you that think learning on the fly is dangerous and stupid well you are kind of right I suppose.

But without that kind of attitude you wouldn’t get the boat would you? And having bought the boat you wouldn’t leave the harbour until you’re a Doctor, mechanic, electrician, master of knots and ropework, physicist, and fully-bearded Salty Seadog.

You Can’t Ever Have It All Covered

I’m reminded now of the novel Dove, and I am not unmindful of the staggering amount of time, effort and cost to us taxpayers which was involved in this escapade by three teenagers who sailed to Lanai in an old lifeboat.

It was a pretty big goof up on their part, and I doubt very much if they are front page heroes to their friends, as I am sure they now feel pretty stupid about the whole affair.

But what really gets me is this trying to equate the attitude of “We wanted to see if we could do it” with your correspondents’ propositions about “this dry rot affecting the youth of our nation.”

Think what the elimination of the attitude of these boys would have meant to the world.

Would Columbus have discovered America?

Would the Wright brothers have flown at Kitty Hawk?

Would Mount Everest have been climbed?

Indeed would our Hawaiian ancestors have ever discovered these lovely islands?

A little red-blooded urge to excel, to do the impossible, to see what is over the next hill and to take little heed of the consequences—these are as American as Apple Pie.

It is obvious that the angry critics of these boys had probably never walked a neighbor’s fence, swam a forbidden hole, pushed over an outhouse on Halloween themselves?.

Irresponsible? Yes. Thoughtless? Yes.

But dry rot in the nation’s youth? Baloney.

The letter was signed: Gene Weston.

Now I’m not suggesting for one second that anything I’m doing is remotely comparable to the story of Dove I’m just saying that a bit of that kind of attitude is good.

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Comments 12

    1. Hahaha, the Rolling Furler system is very simple. Just look it up on YouTube! As you unfurl the head sail the tube it is wrapped up around spins. This tube has the end of a rope attached near the base, about 12 inches above the bottom of the tube. As the rolled up sail is unfurled off the spinning tube, the rope attached to the base begins to wrap around the tube. Coiling the rope around it as spaghetti wraps around one’s spinning fork. So.. When you’re done with the head sail, all one must do is pull on the line wrapped around the base of the tube and it spins the tube in the opposite direction spun when letting the sail out! Naturally, this furls the sail again.

  1. Hey Riley- You seem to be a creative guy and I’d like to speak with you regarding corporate sponsorship for food, hardware, clothing etc.. You’re only just starting here and I foresee massive potential for you in a creative marketing opportunity for sponsors of Vagabond. Just don’t sell your soul out in the process. I have a list of 10 unique and successful ways a corporation could market its products in your video as well as a Request for Sponsorship letter typed up and waiting to be sent delivered to the Marketing Departments of the Top 100 of the most trusted and timeless names in Sailing & Yachting business. If you’re curious about the idea, email me and I’ll elaborate. Essentially, I’m offering to manage the sponsorship of Vagabond pro-bono. I can already envision your hull and canvas looking like the windows of a retail marine supply shop and videos becoming 3 part story, 1 part DIY/Instructional/Informational/Product Review. You have already proved the potential concept, now realize it! The competition isn’t going to wait! I must have read about a dozen other couples planning to set sail using the platform you’re developing.

    Cheers Mate,

  2. Yes, i wonder what would have happened with the world, and i do not mean mankind, if Columbus and the others did not do what they have done!? Would nature be better of are we proud about all our so called achievements? Are we more happy since mankind leave the trees and go compete each other and killed a very lot of good natural things? Are we happy with our greatest invention so as God? Or did we do the wrong things?
    I like to read your commentments, i would not dare what you did but look what you did achieve, great man! Chapeau!

  3. There is a lot to be said of leaning by doing. I’ve seen many people who buy a used boat and spend all their time trying to understand it before they take it out, getting every thing just perfect. years fly by and they never sail actually. Others jump in like you but, one little mishap and that is it, done.

    I can suggest a reading if you haven’t read it. Sailing around the world alone, I’m sure there is a free download copy some where as well.


    Timothy L. Snell
    SV (Mi Amour)

  4. Hey Riley & Elayna

    Been a subscriber for a while, got hooked on the beauty (not just you Elayna) of what you’re doing, the realism, quite frankly (who’s that guy) the adventure. Loved the story from the get go.

    It wasn’t long after finding your channel (not that you were the main factor but…) that I too, without stepping foot on a sailboat, jumped in and bought a vessel (Maxi 84), I call it my learning boat. The first task was to get from the bottom of Sweden up the coast to Gothenburg, I likewise enlisted a friend with more knowledge than me, (easily found) and spent 2 days in less than ideal weather giving me a quick introduction to sailing. It included 1 nice day to show me how it could be and I loved it from the get go.
    I then, due to lack of available help, I solo sailed it 3 more days to our home marina. I recall the first moment I untied from the slip alone and headed out into moderately trafficked waters and how I felt those butterflies of excitement, anticipation and the unknown. The following days were the most alive I had felt in many years and it was amazing, all of it. (My wife, however did not see your side of the “Learning on the fly” post.

    For me It’s just the beginning, I’m in it for the long haul. Hope to see you out there.
    If you come to the west coast Sweden, drop me a line.

  5. Wow, I just discovered you guys a couple of days ago and got so addicted watching all the videos and everything! Sailing myself quite often, but only on a lake, I am dreaming of learning more about sailing on the sea. A lake is just nice to learn…no currents, hardly any waves…but at some point, I’d looove to do longer stuff on the ocean!

    I would have a question to you: Maybe I didn’t find it, but I suppose you were required to get some official sailing licenses and offshore certificates and stuff? Did you do them on the way?

    Anyway, save travels you two!

  6. Hi Riley & Elay

    I have watched all your videos and happy to remain a patron. At first my wife and kids scoffed at me waiting for your next adventure, they now join me to watch the latest instalment when posted. The TV channels can keep the rubbish they serve up, I prefer real reality.

    We have now taken the plunge and recently bought our own La Vagabond. She is called “2easy” and charters out of Pittwater (summer) and Airlie Beach (winter). I get to move it between the two ports, learning as we go, eventually we will set off on our own adventure and maybe even meet up with La Vagabond.

    Fair winds and following seas!

    Ross & Leanne Smith


    Keep up the videos,

  7. Hi Fran

    someone correct me out there if i am wrong, because i have actually no idea of sailing. But i think is the following: for example if you are a Citizen from US, Norway, Sweden or Australia you dont need any license. Seems to me just crazy countries like Switzerland, with no access to seas ask their citizens for a license, if they want to sail under their flag.
    Depend the Country you are sailing they will ask you the license you are supposed to have according the flag your boat is register. So an Australian will need no license on his boat, while a Swiss will need one. Same waters but not same rules!

  8. With regards to licenses, I’m not too sure that the boat’s flag determines the need or lack of a license; I think you are supposed to abide by the law governing the waters you are sailing in. A bit like a driving license: even though you can get a driving license in the UK at the age of 17, you cannot drive under that license in countries where the legal age is 18.
    At least that is what I believe to be right…might actually look into it…
    All the best,

  9. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by people that I couldn’t just up and go do something THEY thought was “crazy” or “impossible” or “unfeasible” and I would figure out what it was I absolutely needed and then just went and accomplished without putting their barriers in my way. 99 times out of 100 it was always “you can’t afford that” – ie, money. And 99 times out of 100 they were completely wrong: it wasn’t money that kept me from achieving something – it was their nagging insistence that only money could “buy” my way in to doing it. No – money buys the equipment or the tools or the vehicle or the food or the gear – it’s your persistence and determination that accomplishes the goal – whether you know what you’re doing or not – whether you learn from a pro or just wing it – persistence and determination will out you as a real human being or just a pretender every time.
    Riley – what you and Elayna are doing is providing a very open window into that philosophy of life. You’re allowing people to see in on a secret about life that few know and even fewer are willing to embrace: that there is nothing holding us back from living a full life but our own inhibitions and if we let what inhibits us go and just step into the open space in front of us where life happens, anything – ANYTHING – can be accomplished. Good on you both, and thanks for sharing the adventure.

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