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Lucinda Moores is a long-term solo traveller in her fifties and now a regular crew member on Rubicon 3 adventure holidays. She explains how she found herself on board – and why she is now such an advocate of these sailing holidays for singles.
– August 27 2021 –
I married in my twenties, quit my career to have children, looked after the house and husband, travelled everywhere on holiday as a family, got the children to university – and promptly divorced aged 47. It turns out my husband felt I’d served my purpose and wanted ‘to find himself. I hope whatever he found was a shock, but for me, it was about rebuilding a life and adjusting to being solo. For years I had dreamt of being free – unencumbered by children, the dog, the spouse, the mortgage. Yet once I was, I was lost.
I was bereft for what I had lost but also lost as to how to get enjoyment from so many things I had previously taken for granted. Chief amongst those was taking a holiday. For the first time, I began to see how tricky it can be to have a holiday solo. Everywhere seems designed for groups and families, or at least couples. I hated the stigma of going on a ‘singles’ holiday and to be honest never would. Even the places I thought looked fun or engaging wanted to charge me for joining solo and thus ensured I would feel like a square peg in a round hole.
As a child, I had sailed at school, and as a family, my ex-husband had fancied himself as a sailing captain, and we had gone on some Sunsail holidays, chartering a yacht in the Greek Islands. It usually involved lots of shouting, recurring waves of panic, crying children and a lot – and I mean a lot – of money. Despite that, I could always see the charm in it. I loved being out on the water, and for those fleeting moments when I wasn’t being yelled at to make some food, pull on a rope or change a nappy, I could lie back, close my eyes, feel the sun and wind on my face and dream of heading off to far-flung lands.
So sailing was something I looked at as a holiday post-divorce. The trouble was the children had flown the nest and had no interest, and I had no skills. A Sunsail charter requires both a group of people and skills. Step forward to Rubicon 3, which I read about in the Financial Times of all places. I was utterly entranced. They were sailing from Finland to Stockholm, and I was instantly there in my mind, weaving through the islands, sharing the excitement of sailing to another country. It was everything I had dreamt about for years. I called them up the next day and heard how they specialise in helping everyone join the adventures, with a vast number of their crew on every expedition joining solo, having almost no sailing experience and often being in their 50s or above. They suggested I join them on one of their two-week adventures, cruising the Lofoten Islands of Arctic Norway, and – undoubtedly – I had one of the most life-affirming two weeks of my life.
In the blink of an eye, I wasn’t a divorced mum of three anymore with no functional boat skills but part of a crew that was all taking part in the same adventure. I planned routes (we make up the itinerary as we go), navigated, took my turn at the wheel, trimmed sails to make us go faster, helped lower and pulled up the anchor, and scoured local markets for elusive ingredients for the day’s dish being cooked in the galley. It was easy sailing in light winds, flat water and short distances. When the sailing was done, I would be found diving in and swimming, or I would wander off, hike up a hill, and look out over the most fantastic vistas I had ever seen. Islands, fjords, beaches, sealife, eagles – I will never forget the amazing sense of peace, of connection with the world and with my crew and boat that I felt at that time. Never once did I even notice I was solo because we are all solo, yet none of us was solo as we were instantly a team, with all the parts coming together under the expert guidance of our skipper. Over those two weeks, I not only discovered a spectacular part of the world, but I discovered or rediscovered a part of myself.
Since that first trip, I have, I admit, become a Rubicon 3 groupie and sailed with them across oceans, in the Caribbean, in the Arctic and down the coast of Morocco. The crew and skippers change, but the spirit on those boats never does. Bruce Jacobs, the founder, described it to me thus by email, “we treat every customer as if they were our family member. If there is a question or someone is struggling, rather than see them as a problem to be dealt with, we aim to respond to them as we would someone we knew and cared about deeply. That is the Rubicon 3 ethos that weaves its way through everything we do. Total respect and care for every person”. For so many companies, that would sound corny and even fake, but I can tell you that that is the same experience I have had every time. The skippers are not over familiar or soft on you (far from it when the weather turns nasty and they need you to do something. They will be pretty firm if required). Still, there is never any shouting, never any disapproval and never any sense that you are an inconvenience or stupid for not getting something. Again, Bruce described it as “if I came to you and tried to be an accountant overnight, it would be chaos. You are coming to life as a sailor for a while, and why or how could you know more than you do? Remembering that is also so key to us”.
So, single, maybe even in your 50s, looking to go on a brilliant holiday and needing inspiration? I’m on expedition 9 with Rubicon 3, and I can honestly say they are lovely. Give them a try!
On our holidays, almost everyone else has come solo too, so there’s no awkwardness. Get ready for that glorious sun-drenched adventure!
Being an activity holiday, you also get to know your fellow crew quickly. It’s a group of like-minded people, usually from similar backgrounds, and our adventures have become famous for how many long-term friendships have formed. Come on a sailing adventure; from day one, you’ll be hauling up sails with them, helping anchor, planning routes and exploring ashore. Through the laughter, confusion (yes, there can be some!), learning and ultimately enormous exhilaration, it is a fast track to knowing the natural person. Finish each day with a beer or glass of wine as we cook and eat, and you’ll make new friends without thinking about it.
Most sailors have a love and even need for some solitude at times, and we chose our way of life because being at sea is such a great way to achieve it. Those travelling solo often have that same desire – to know that when you need to, you can be alone and have the space you need. On a large 60′ yacht such as we run, there are many places to wander off to and spend some time alone. Whether it’s lying down on your bunk, sitting up front at the bow and watching the waves crash off the bubble or when we dock, wandering off into town or off for a hike and just revelling in the sheer freedom that this way of life gives you.
Many yachts have that ‘squashed together’ image that can be pretty daunting, especially with people you don’t know. Rubicon 3’s boats are large 60′ expedition yachts, meaning you have all the personal space you need. Of course, everyone eats and sleeps on the yacht, and it’s brilliant for that, but you have your bunk and own storage and don’t have to share it with anyone! While you don’t get your cabin, the 8-person sleeping accommodation is large, spacious and great fun. There are also two heads (or toilets), meaning plenty of privacy.
There is no doubt that solo holidays can be daunting for those who haven’t tried one before. Common fears among single travellers include feeling lonely, safety issues, the awkwardness of eating alone, health challenges and culture shocks. The great thing is that none exists on a busy sailing yacht where everybody shares duties, whether steering, navigation, hoisting sails or cooking. You are part of a team from when you join to when you leave and long after. The mix of solo travellers is often broad and varied, with other crew being made up of people from different walks of life, from lawyers, people in the arts and politics, retirees and, of course, the sailing world.
Many people over 50 also worry they are too old to go on a sailing adventure, not least on a solo holiday. But at Rubicon 3, the average age is 50, with most crew aged between 35 and even into their 70s, with an even mix of men and women.
Cost is another common concern for solo travellers, with many holiday companies adding pricey single supplements for those going alone. It’s an absolute rip-off but be assured there are no extra fees on Rubicon 3 trips for those who come solo.
Rubicon 3 holidays are renowned for being fun and friendly. On our coastal-style trips, we sail somewhere new every day, between nine and five. Then it’s a mix of anchoring or docking in a marina or harbour, where everyone will jump off the boat and head off to explore. We’ll put some tunes on in the evening, relax over a cold beer, and cook some delicious food. Those who have enjoyed trips with Rubicon 3 describe it as a friendly and supportive environment, with everyone being encouraged to try their hand at various tasks.
Unlike a beach holiday, sailing trips involve travelling to new destinations each day. Depending on the Rubicon Adventure you choose, days could apply a short sail to a different port or a more extended passage, perhaps involving a night sail where everybody participates in a watch system. But our skippers also know that a little ‘R&R’ is vital to enjoyment, so ensure that picturesque destinations, including beaches, are visited.
You don’t need any prior sailing experience; this can be the first time you have set foot on a yacht. Our instructors have a superbly professional approach. They’ll help you gradually build your sailing skills and earn a certificate from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) while you’re on holiday. All our trips include everything you need for the Competent Crew course so that you can earn that during your time onboard for no extra cost. For most of our trips, you don’t need any other qualifications. Some of them, such as the Bay of Biscay expedition and the Skipper Masterclass, require the Day Skipper certificate, ASA 104 or equivalent skills and experience. If you’re looking at flotilla holidays and or chartering a yacht somewhere like the Greek Islands or the British Virgin Islands, then our Skipper Masterclass would be superb preparation for you.
Although these are not flight-inclusive holidays, Rubicon 3’s booking conditions mean that if we cannot run your trip, you get a full, 100% refund of all money you have paid us. We hold all customer money in a Protected Trust, meaning we do not even have access to it until the trip has run. If any holiday cannot run, there are no refund delays as you may have experienced with other travel companies, and there is no need to try and claim through your card issuer. All money you have paid to Rubicon 3 will be refunded within 14 days…and that’s guaranteed. Further details can be found on our website.
So this year, put aside the usual beach holidays, beach club or river cruises. Adventure sailing holidays are perfect for singles and solo travellers, and we are here to help you get booked up. When you’re ready, call us, and we will help you pick the best trips and the associated travel, including, if required, which flight to get and a hotel pre or post if needed.
It’s time to have a brilliant adventure!