Climate Change

Time for a Change? Why Sailing is a Great Way to Spend Your Career Break or Gap Year

Longer voyages

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When you’ve been doing the same old thing for a long time it’s beneficial – no, essential – to get a new perspective on things. Trust me, I’ve been there! Whether you’ve just finished years of education and your next step is more school at Uni. Or you’ve worked the same 9-5 for way too long and it’s starting get you down. Take a break and get far away from it all. While you don’t have to run away to sea like I did, it really is a great place to start! It doesn’t matter if you are having a mid life crisis, want to live life differently,or just travel the world. You know when its time for a change. 

I had worked a job that was unfulfilling in many ways for 10 years. The commute via the M6, crossing through Spaghetti Junction at rush hour twice a day was gruelling. Being in the education sector, I found myself constantly counting down the days to the next half term holiday (not that I had that off, but at least the majority of students and staff were gone for a while!) And wishing away the days is not a healthy way to live, believe me.

I knew something needed to change and around the same time I was fortunate to strike up a conversation with a young sailor. I knew in my mind what needed to be done – I needed to run away to sea. As a Brummy with zero sailing experience that may seem like a bold move but it just made so much sense to me. I needed a change and what a change it turned out to be!

Classic Sailing to the rescue!

I booked my first voyage with Classic Sailing onto Morgenster – a leg of a Tall Ships Race from Liverpool – Dublin soon after chatting to the young sailor. As the voyage date approached, things had gotten worse at work. The race was incredible – from the parade of sail out of the Mersey River, becoming becalmed off the coast, choosing to break away from the other racing ships and managing to catch the favourable wind North of the Isle of Man and subsequently winning the race for that leg as we arrived victorious into Dublin’s fair city!

The buzz was incredible. I was totally in love with Tall ship sailing and while I didn’t think for a second at the time it could be the change in career I so desperately needed it was definitely the catalyst. Once back at work – something had changed. I didn’t dread the morning alarm. Didn’t sigh at every knock at the door or get wound up when the students made a racket outside my office. I felt confident – I mean I’d just sailed a square rigger! I’d climbed a 100′ tall mast and wrestled a sail into a furl whilst balancing on a yard high above the sea with my new friends and fellow sailors. If I could do that I could easily cope with yet another meeting that could have been an email!

While my new perspective had helped, I missed the sea. The next voyage was on Pilgrim, which resulted in me and my partner becoming volunteer sea staff. Very long story short, I now write to you from MY desk at Classic sailing – as a professional seafarer with 1000’s of sea miles in my logbook and working hard towards my Yachtmaster qualification. (It took a surprisingly short time too!)

“So what are you saying Jess, I need to take my life in a completely different direction?” No – not at all (though there is always a chance you might get hooked too!) The point is that time at sea on tall or small ships can give you the rest, refocus and change of perspective you need. Research by ASTO (association of sail Training Organisations) suggests the teamwork, routines, challenges and responsibilities you experience while sail training helps you develop management and organisational skills, builds self confidence and improves self esteem, leaving you with a great sense of achievement and a can-do attitude (and I totally agree with that)

It’s the same story with long charter trips too! A month or more on a tall ship or traditional boat gives a unique time to reflect and talk with people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds, as well as the challenge of living as part of a close shipboard community, sailing one of the last great wildernesses. And did I mention you’ll be travelling to some of the most spectacular places on earth (in a very planet-conscious, low emission way), seeing incredible wildlife and immersing yourself in different cultures and cuisines? Making lifelong friendships and learning skills you didn’t know existed?

“But Jess, my employer wouldn’t just let me have a year off.” You might be surprised. Since the pandemic, many employers have realised that the conventional in-office 5-9 isn’t the only way to operate productively. With more & more employees requesting work-from-home hours, career breaks aren’t too far from the realms of possibility. Many organisations have procedures in place for career breaks for staff with a minimum period of service. Even if yours doesn’t, a period of unpaid leave can often be negotiated as employers are keen to be seen as pro-mental health and are reluctant to lose an experienced member of staff. Not sure if your employer will go for it? See Jobs.ac.uk’s article ‘Taking a Career Break’ for some useful hints and tips.

How to Prepare for a long Voyage.

Read our brilliant article on getting ready for a long voyage. Including how to get time off and sabbatical leave.

Getting ready for a long voyage

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Typical Gap Year or Career Break Triggers 

Do you recognise any of the following feelings: Burn out, guilt at excess and affluence. Sensory overload, mid life crisis(es), freedom from responsibilities, retirement. Needing new sense of purpose or fulfilment, children flown the nest, retirement, no need to work, shaking out the cobwebs, once in a lifetime goals, can now afford to travel.

Try Tecla

If you’ve been saving for your sabbatical for some time and you’re all set to go, Tecla has a fantastic series of voyages coming up at the end of March through to July – join one or many! Voyage one (TC310323) sees you joining the ship in Chile and sailing to Easter Island. Continue to French Polynesia on voyage 2 (TC230423). Next stop is Hawaii (TC240523) and ending in Dutch harbour, Unalaska for voyage 4 (TC240623)

Try Tecla

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