by Joshua Colvin
The concept isn’t particularly new—especially not to Small Craft Advisor readers—but the more general outdoors crowd is beginning to figure out you don’t need to trek to the Himalayas or row across the Atlantic to have a satisfying, challenging experience in nature. More would-be adventurers, it seems, are recognizing that with the demands of work, family and other responsibilities, they may never find the time and money to schedule that grand expedition. Magazines and blogs are buzzing about so-called “micro adventures,” short, thrilling trips that fit in around work and family commitments.
Author and adventurer, Alastair Humphreys, is the most prominent voice of the microadventure movement. On his blog he offers five bullet-pointed reasons to live more adventurously:
• To experience the wild and escape from the rushed, mundane real world.
• To do something new, fun and different.
• To spend memorable time with your friends, family or by yourself.
• To challenge yourself, surprise yourself, and achieve something to be proud of.
The fifth is, of course, to put into practice the fun suggestions you’ve seen in his best-selling microadventures book.
Some of Humphreys’ microadventure suggestions include:
• Sleep in your garden.
• Swim wild—in a river, lake or sea
• Sleep under a full moon
• Forage for your food, or at least pick some blackberries
• Learn to identify a new bird or new tree each month
The list of possible microadventures is limited only by your imagination, but it occurred to me that our small boats are like microadventure magic carpets—perfectly facilitating our desires to be out in nature exploring, escaping, or challenging ourselves. How quickly we could make our own list:
• Sleep aboard your boat
• Sleep in your cockpit under a full moon—heck, even in your driveway!
• Row or sail to that shore or island and forage for food or pick berries
• Beach your boat in that tidal creek down the road and stay overnight
• Carry that dinghy, inflatable, or kayak to a nearby mountain lake or pond and be maybe be the first to explore it by boat
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about using our small boats to their best advantage. In fact I write about the topic and a recent shallow-water cruise in the coming issue (#94). I think we small-boat sailors sometimes have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees, or the estuaries for the bays, if you will. I remember when I sailed California’s Morro Bay being determined to push myself and my small boats by venturing out of the harbor mouth and into the open Pacific. I’d sometimes sail out and away from shore and then realize there wasn’t much to see or do. Now what?
Meanwhile the scenic, protected back bay—a tortuous maze of shallow channels and tidal currents—was teeming with marine life and just begging to be explored by a shallow draft boat. Today I regret I didn’t spend more of my sailing time back there solving my own little Riddle of the Sands and beach-camping the dunes.
Here in Port Townsend it’s a similar story, as nearby islands, bays and creeks offer endless opportunities for micro-adventuring, yet so many sailors race off under outboard power toward the San Juan Islands for a rushed, sometimes stressful few days of cruising. It’s good to stretch sometimes, but we shouldn’t forget that with a small enough boat, we don’t need a lot of time, money, or energy to have remarkable experiences.
What kinds of small-boat microadventure possibilities do you have near you? Leave a comment and let us know—maybe we’ll see you out there.