The Slow Sailing manifesto

Whatever your craft, whether a rowing boat, or a luxury yacht, it’s your relationship with your boat and the sea that matters. Regardless of length, price and equipment, your craft isn’t just another of your many possesions but rather an agreeable travelling companion with whom you can learn about the sea and, more importantly, about yourself.

Spend time aboard your craft even if it’s just tied up in the harbour. Make the boat part of your living space. Do little jobs aboard, this will heighten your sense of ownership and will strengthen the ties between you and your craft.

Leave your hurries and worries on the quay when you go sailing. Go without a set time to return, as if you were leaving for a long journey. Forget your watch and let the sun guide you. If you take speed and time out of the equation you’re left only with space: the sea.

Sail without a strict course or destination. Let the wind and sea take you where they will. Don’t think about miles covered or those still to go. Don’t go anywhere, just sail and enjoy the moment.

Disconnect the electronics and sail like they used to. Learn not to depend on your instruments. When was the last time you took a bearing? Or a sun sight? Find your position and mark it on the chart. Forget the windspeed indicator, feel the wind on your face. Learn the art of sailing, become a real sailor.

Disconnect the mobile and turn off the music. Cut your ties with the land. Listen to the murmuring sea, the bow wave, the flap of the sail, the breathing wind.

Don’t hog the helm. Let somebody else take it. How long has it been since you stretched out on deck or sat at the bow? If you’re sailing alone, tie off the tiller, balance the sails and let yourself go. Trust in your crew and in your boat.

Write a log book. Detail your sailing trips and note down your feelings. Then go back over your notes and re-live the experience. Share your experiences with others in what ever way suits you best.

Race, if that’s what you like, but don’t go for the prize. Go to learn about the sea, your boat and yourself. There’s no more stimulating prize than this.

Don’t desert your boat, she’d never desert you. (This is a play on a famous Spanish campaign to stem the amount of pets that are abandoned by the roadsides in Spain, particularly during the summer holidays.)

Contemplate the sea for a while each day, let its energy flow into you and take it wherever you go.

By Joan Sol via Ben of the Invisible Workshop – where you’ll find some great videos of Ben sailing the Western Mediterranean in a boat not unlike my Walkabout. Thanks Joan and Ben.



  1. Peter Brackenbury

    Very Nice! I have just started to sail and have enjoyed learning a lot from just being around my boat. There seems to be a small but beautiful (sorry stole that from Schumacher!) movement that is pushing for a deeper connection to both the earth and ourselves in recreation and in work that I hope will bring a greater awareness of the beauty and wonder around us. Sitting in a boat entirely powered by oneself or a natural system like the wind can only have positive results. I hope more people will find inspiration from this manifesto and apply it to whatever else they do. Slow biking, slow hiking, slow gardening, slow swimming, etc. Just slow down and realise that everywhere and in everything there is beauty! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Very nice. Slow is so good. I wrote a piece called Fun Boat Manifesto, which compliments this story. You can see it here:


  3. Mark

    Centre board stuck, outboard won’t start, amazing how pleasant a cup of tea is on the boat in the harbour. V slow sailing this weekend. Mark

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