From the Editor: December 2004

There's a curious pleasure in mile-munching. Covering long distances at a relentless pace...

There?s a curious pleasure in mile-munching. Covering long distances at a relentless pace and with a single objective in mind can be enormously rewarding. On the whole I prefer to travel at a relaxed pace, stopping where and when the mood takes me, but sometimes you can?t ? you just have to get there.

In a previous life I used to go to a 24-hour motorcycle endurance race in the South of France. A few friends and I would ride down through France taking the scenic route (a ruse to thrash down the fabulous road that runs off the top of the Massif and down through the Ardèche). We would call in at interesting-looking Routiers along the way, we?d stop and admire the view, we?d even turn around and ride back down the same couple of miles of particularly good road we?d just come down. But the trip home after the race was different ? it was a flat-out blast from Marseille to London. Stopping only to take on fuel, we would put our heads down and go for it. It was tough, gruelling work riding at thoroughly illegal speeds for 12 hours (don?t try this at home!), but it needed to be done and there was immense satisfaction in rolling into London on the same day as you left the Côte d?Azur.

I?ve done the same in boats, too. Last summer Lester and I did 320 miles in a day in a 30ft open boat. We didn?t really mean to, we just kept pressing on while the weather was good and suddenly found ourselves turning into Cowes for supper having had breakfast in Amsterdam. And a couple of years earlier I did Nassau to Providenciales in the Caribbean in one hit because we?d spent too long dallying in Bimini.

There?s something wonderful about long passages, night watches, and the relentless thrum of diesels beneath your feet. Alone at the helm at 3am, with a million stars overhead and the mysterious depths of unfamiliar waters beneath your keel, you are transported into a different, romantic and slightly surreal world.

Not many of us get the time to do much long-distance cruising, but if you do, grab it with both hands. You don?t have to have a boat capable of 1,000 mile offshore passages, either? you can coast-hop your way around Europe in a 30-footer. But whether you put in the miles at speed in a small boat or at a more sedate pace in a bigger boat, exploring interesting far-off places is part of what makes boating such a joy. I hope our long-distance special informs and inspires you.

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