Lucky Luck So Far, Soft Sailing Lessons

Marina with a lucky rainbow

What is luck?

Luck is a funny thing.  What is it really?  How is luck bestowed on its loyal subjects?  Even for the most devout, vying for luck with their countless charms, rituals, and mantras… cries to the almighty gods to be on their side, their luck seems to turn.  How come?  What happened?!  They did everything right, right?

And another thing, when we are born, does our lucky star have a predetermined fixed amount?  Can we run out of luck?

Things can go awry so quickly on a boat and the outcome can be downright disastrous.  So let me speak for the both of us when I say how grateful we both feel for the soft lessons we’ve received this year and a half.  Like hands-up kinda grateful.  We have been given the chance to deal with our issues in a non-emergent capacity and that is really incredibly awesome.

So, are we lucky?

Luck quantified

Nerd alert – I’m mostly a “numbers guy.”  If I had to quantify my luck idealogy, it would be as such:

L = S ± (e ± C)

yep, imma a nerd… and I like it.

Luck equals the probability of success plus/minus the outcome of energy (outside variables) and consequences of choice.  The choices you make are only half of the equation.  The forces upon you are the other.  These determine your success, and therefore, your luck, good or bad.

If you think about it, this frees your mind.  You are not the victim of you bad luck but also not the hero.  You may get a nod by the gods for a poor choice that leaves you with success or not.  Ultimately the idea is your good choice will hopefully swing the numbers so high that you will come out on top despite outside variables.

It’s a no brainer.

However, there are some who like to test their luck, purely.  This would mean starting off negatively or at zero at the very best!  No, no… For us, we like a little more certainty in our uncertainty, ya know?  But we do wish those folks… wait for it… good luck

Thank goodness for soft lessons

We are very fortunate to say, while the margins were smaller at times, we have had good luck so far… all soft lessons.  This means we for the most part, the drama was low and we were able to learn a good lesson in a nurturing way.  It also means we were able to look back and say, wow, that could have been way worse.

But what an amazing thing to say!  All this great information to take to the next round.  Go, go consequence of choice!  (Assuming we stick to the most prudent choice, that is.)  So grateful to be able to manage all this!  Because it’s a lot, folks, a lot.

Luck qualified

So what happened? What kind of soft lessons are we talking about?  What happened?  Here are some of our soft lessons.  Again, all these were presented in a way that the drama was low (mostly), taught us a good lesson, and make for a great story.  

In sailing, there is no better way.

Our anchor chain got stuck around a rock in Volcano, Italy

With a little team work, Matt, Sydney, and I were able to wiggle out… this is the short version.

NTS… Don’t anchor in rocks anymore.

Several failed attempts to anchor at night in Ibiza, Spain, prompting us to bag it and sail all night back to the beach on Formentera, Spain, to anchor safely

Nothing went right that night, nothing.  Poor conditions, after poor choices, which led us to pull an allnighter right back where we were, a beautiful 4 mile white sand beach… no obstructions.  Night anchoring can be impossible at times.

NTS… Don’t anchor at night anymore.  

Punctured a small hole in our gennaker

We couldn’t get the damn thing down after we saw the hole.  We thought, well shit, either we are just going to sail on forever or we are going to be saying goodbye to this sail.  

NTS… Need to reevaluate and practice our retrieval procedure.  

A couple hair-raising berth dismounts

One of the many gifts bestowed onto the sailor… fenders.  No damage.

NTS… Keep a flying fender on hand. 

Use marina help on windy days, that’s what they are there for.

15 ft plus (5 meter) seas off Bay of Biscay, France, and around the Peloponnese, Greece

Bay of Biscay was at night but stormy with 40 knot winds, wet and scary.  Peloponnese wasn’t windy but you saw everything, and it was BIG.

NTS… The boat can do it.  We can do it.  Very important lesson.

Proximity lightning hit in Croatia

It could have been a direct hit.  All Garmin zapped.

NTS… Run or find better high-ground protection

could potentially be more helpful

Being held up for outdated Coast Guard certification documentation in Sardinia, Italy

Guy was cool.  Just said don’t leave until we procured it, thankfully through email.

NTS… Keep all paperwork up to date and have hard copy.  

Have a list of renewals and be mindful to check periodically.

A couple threatening anchor neighbors

One guy, since named asshat, came out with his hacksaw to cut our anchor chain.  We moved.  Short version, obviously, lol. 

NTS… Can’t reason with insanity, just move.

Almost hit a lit fish farm at night going 10 knots trying escape a hysterical screaming fisherman

Not a shining moment.  Guy saved us.  Great story.

NTS… Reason with ourselves, sometimes it’s not insanity.

 Jellyfish stings

Poor Matt and Sydney.  

NTS… Wear goggles at all times and don’t go in when outnumbered.

6o knots in a “protected” bay in Milos, Greece

No fetch, so no waves, just lots of wind, and plenty of scope.  We were ready, just not in that direction.  Read about it here → 60 knots

NTS… Rain cells have their own wind,

which is not necessarily the overall wind.

Blowing 40 plus knots with waves into land in Ibiza, Spain, and getting tangled on the mooring trip line (had to cut trip line)

Thought we drug the mooring ball, so we rode up on the mooring ball, so it got tangled in a knot.  Could have been worse.

NTS… Early mooring for us, chose a mostly non-protected spot for the wind

we knew was coming… don’t do that.

Propeller caught a fishing pot off Portugal and France

Engines were off, pushed the line directly down and it freed, thanks Stuart.  

NTS… Listen and learn.

Frayed but not torn topping lift

Saw it and patched it.

NTS… Check all the lines, even the ones that seemingly aren’t a working line.

 6 foot plus (2 meter) waves on anchor in Southern Italy

Really tested our anchor that day, wow.  We were in deep water with lots of scope, and no cresting waves, all good.  Just enjoyed the ride, well, after the shock wore off.

NTS… Anchor in deep water with lots of scope whenever possible for swell.

 Haven’t been caught in a major storm, but between them, yes!

We run.

NTS… Run!

A major surge from ferry in Milos, Greece, almost landed us on the dock

Both of us snapped into action and released quickly.

NTS… Heed warnings of surge from ferries, even in the off season. 

Always look ahead. 

Bent bridle snap shackle on anchor in 35 knots that turned us onshore in Mar Menor, Spain

First shallow anchor moment.  Decided to leave because the water was much shallower closer to land with the new swell.  Got the shackle off easily and were able to leave quickly.  

NTS… Leave plenty of room under the boat for any size swell on full swing. 

Change that shackle, lol!

Dinghy died miles away from the boat resulting in a tow from Ryan and Sophie

Human error, all good.  Ask Matt.  I’ll feel bad if I tell his secret.

NTS… This is a secret.

Almost got sideswiped by a mega yacht in Cavtat, Croatia

Guy ran his ass back to the controls and recovered super quick.

NTS… Not sure how to prevent this one except to keep watch. 

Don’t assume experienced captains have everything under control.

The caveat

Matt’s favorite word… caveat.  

«shit happens» ain’t nothin you can do about it.

Nuf said.

Not too bad, tho.  Should we knock on wood?

maaaaybeeee, just in case, huh?

You know what they say... Sharing is caring! ;o)


  1. Kathy Oricchio says:

    Hello Sweet Emily, Obviously I know Absofrigginlutely nothing you’re talking about except the fact that you and Matt have Survived, Learned and are Enjoying Love and Life!
    That’s all I truly care about. As always, wonderful to hear from you and your adventures (even if I don’t understand the technical terms).
    Know that I Love you both, wish you best and and look forward to your next Post. As always, ❤️

    1. Emily says:

      You know I think you’re amazing, like ridiculously amazing. Thank you for your love and concern. Warms our hearts… luvs and hugs always!!

  2. Scott says:

    My list is that long over the years of credit card captain on charter boats…all ‘soft lessons’ as you note and each a learning experience! Safe sails ahead for you guys and happy New Years, again!

    1. Emily says:

      So happy to hear you had only soft lessons, may our good luck continue through our good choices! Looking forward to our paths crossing over water in some really cool place! Till then! All the best winds Scott!

  3. Nic says:

    Great post Emily. We can relate to most of the lessons you have shared. May the future lessons you both learn always remain the soft ones. Cheers Nic (Lady Roslyn)

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks Nic! Hopefully you can’t relate to the asshat, they are far and few, but still reveal themselves… Thanks for the good wish, same to you. Keep up the good work on your trash in the ocean effort. We support you!

  4. Kirk Thomson says:

    Great stories. All this in 6 months of sailing and just in the Med. Look forward to hearing more!

    1. Emily says:

      Hey Kirk! Thank you! A year and 6 months… thank goodness, that would be a ton to all happen in 6 months. Thanks for the comment and continuous good vibes. Means a lot <3 <3 Cool profile pic! Love it!

  5. Delouis Wilson says:

    I always enjoy your re-accounts. Started reading your blog when you first started writing it. Keep it up. I’m learning vicariously through y’all.

    1. Emily says:

      That is so cool to hear, wow. Thank you! Looking forward to spreading the word this new year. imma a nerd, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ , it happens

  6. OriginalBad Bob says:

    Good read sharing your experiences and emotions. More to come!! Keep sharing please!!

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks Original Bad Bob, lol! Will do! hugs, kisses!

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